Review Round-Up – February ’15

Hi readers, we hope that you are all well and looking forward to the arrival of Spring, as Tina and I are. We want to say goodbye to the cold and gloominess, the bugs and viruses, and welcome some clear, blue, sunny skies to wake up to and motivate us to get out and about. I’m sure if it wasn’t for certain responsibilities I would just hibernate with my books and laptop throughout the winter months!

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away I hope that you are all in the mood for love! We have been reading many great romance novels, whether they are contemporary, historical, paranormal, comedy or erotic, and so there are more than enough reads to bury your head into to prepare you for the weekend of love!!

Amongst our latest, thirteen reviews we have two thrillers and a non/fiction travel and food book – if you are planning to go away, or want to try something new to eat, this is a fab read of first-hand accounts with recipes at the end of each chapter!

We hope you enjoy our selection. And whatever your plans, have a lovely Valentine’s weekend! (As always, please click on the titles for our full review!)

Caroline & Tina ❤

Torment (Dark Alpha 1)Torment (Dark Alpha #1) and Pleasure (Dark Alpha #2) by Alisa Woods, paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Torment (Dark Alpha #1) – short story

New Adult Paranormal Romance serial

Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City.

Jak enjoys the female human population of Seattle as much as any wolf, but his heart belongs to a female shifter who’s already mated. Worse, she’s the mate of his alpha’s brother.

Arianna was captured from her pack when she was only twenty and mated to a wolf whose dark side takes full advantage of her unbreakable bond to him. Her nights belong to him, but her days are free to explore other things… including feelings for a wolf she can never have.

Is love stronger than magic? Or will breaking an unbreakable bond destroy them both?

Torment (Dark Alpha 1) is 60 pages or 15,000 words. It’s the first of six episodes in the Dark Alpha serial.
Adult content. Ages 18+.

Pleasure (Dark Alpha 2)Pleasure (Dark Alpha #2) – short story

Blurb: New Adult Paranormal Romance serial

Shifters live in the shadows of Seattle, just under the skin of the alpha male, dot-com entrepreneurs who are building a new Silicon Valley in the Emerald City.

Jak and Arianna have found something special in each other’s arms… but is it something they can keep?

Is love stronger than magic? Or will breaking an unbreakable bond destroy them both?

Pleasure (Dark Alpha 2) is 60 pages or 15,000 words. It’s the second of six episodes in the Dark Alpha serial.

Adult content. Ages 18+.

Guildhall Guardian: Thamesian #1 (Thamesians)Guildhall Guradian: Thamesian (Thamesians #1) by Aidan Ladsow, paranormal romance, mystery (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: SHE HAS JUST FOUND THE ADVENTURE SHE CRAVED FOR

Italian Art Graduate Gioia Di Terzi has left Rome for England, upsetting all her plans of a future as a Museum administrator. Now working as a civil servant, she settles into a British working-class routine which comes nowhere close to her dreams of English Gothic tales.
That’s before she discovers the Medieval Quarter of the city and steps into its Guildhall, a building which instantaneously fascinates her.
Little does she know she just crossed the supernatural underworld’s threshold…

AFTER CENTURIES AS A GUARDIAN HE MUST COME OUT AND FIGHT

In 1430, Roydon Thamesian made a pact with Vampires who saved his life and became the powerful Guildhall’s guardian.
Ruling the Medieval Quarter, he doesn’t know humanity anymore.
Until Gioia Di Terzi stumbles into his life and he becomes the target of unmistakable attacks from a Hunter…

511kNDVGIzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_Plea From a Stranger by Derek A Barrass, thriller, slight paranormal (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A young woman’s casual visit to a garage accompanied by her young daughter; becomes her worst imaginable nightmare when the owner tricks her and locks them in his basement. June, who was once a nude model for lad’s magazines, is the dream-girl he believes has been sent by fate to be his. He is a psychopath who has killed his wife and the man she left him for. He also hides other crimes from his past which he believes he was entitled to do if anyone crossed him.

Songs_of_the_ManiacsSongs of the Maniacs (novella) by Mickey J. Corrigan, new adult, psychological thriller, dark drama, urban crime, romantic suspense (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Who are we when we lose everything, including our personalities? From her office at a mental health institute in the tropics, a troubled young woman counsels deeply disturbed clients while coping with her own heightening concerns. These include frightening consciousness lapses, violent memories of a high school sexual relationship, a menacing stalker, and an annoyingly arousing visitor who may or may not be insane. All this on a single stormy day at a time when a new mental health disorder has become epidemic and is threatening to distort memory and identity, unmooring the validity of reality itself.

A seductive and chilling novella, Songs of the Maniacs takes readers on a fascinating descent into the abyss beneath the lush surfaces of contemporary American paradise.

jack5.500x8.500.inddBroken Dolls by Kitty Thomas, literary erotica 18+ (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Mina Calloway always finds herself in the hands of the wrong master: Gentle at first, then brutally sadistic and abusive. She no longer believes it’s possible to find a man who will be gentle with her. After seeing a kink-friendly therapist for months, the doctor makes her an illicit offer she isn’t yet smart enough to refuse: “Let me find you a good master.”

Brian Sloan is a borderline sociopath with a dark and brutal past. Only taking his sadistic urges out on the women at a submissive training house allows him to sleep through the night. When Brian sees Mina, she should be ripe for the picking, but her damage is too similar to his own. Can he fight past his demons to protect the one person he considers worth saving?

Note: This book happens in the same world as Guilty Pleasures with reoccurring settings and characters. However, it is not a direct sequel and it isn’t necessary to have read Guilty Pleasures first. If you enjoy this book, however, you may also enjoy Guilty Pleasures by Kitty Thomas.

Travel BitesTravel Bites by The Hungry Traveller, non-fiction, travel, food (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Travel Bites is a collection of short stories that criss-cross the globe. It is the first work by The Hungry Traveller who has combined his two great life passions: travelling and eating!

The Hungry Traveller has been travelling for the last fifteen years and, along the way, has experienced many different sights, tastes, smells and cultures. Central to his travel experiences has been the role of food. Through his unique and very personal style of storytelling, you too can share in the highs and the lows of his stories from around the world. At the end of each story is a recipe for a dish inspired by his adventure.

Travel Bites will capture your imagination and curiosity; and will leave you yearning to plan your next holiday, adventure or escape!

The Hungry Traveller is a travelling enthusiast who loves to eat! When travelling, he enjoys meeting new people and engaging with locals to learn about their culture, history and the food that they eat. He is ‘currently between trips’, saving money, but always has his passport on hand, ready for his next adventure! He always likes to hear about other peoples’ travel experiences and your thoughts on his book!

Lady Smut Dark DesiresThe Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires, erotic, paranormal, humour (reviewed by Tina)

 The Immortal Longing of Brenna Bang by Liz Everly

When a vampire materializes through her computer, successful vampire-romance romance author Brenna Bang finds herself marked for inescapable passion with a tech savvy bloodsucker.

The Lying, the Witch & the Wardrobe by Margery Kempe

Jeanie tries to figure out how to unlock her grandmother’s wardrobe and uncover what happened all those years ago when the goblins came to offer their sensuous erotic fruits.

Sexsomnia by Madeline Iva

Jenny needs to unravel the mystery of what she does at night and who she does it with in order to subdue the sexual demon inside her.

Divine by Elizabeth Shore

Locked in an abandoned mental asylum, an ambitious filmmaker soon discovers she’s trapped with a Dionysian god.  He offers her a glimpse of astounding future artistic success—but it will only come true if she’ll perform an erotic ritual to free him.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00057]Concealment (The Cassano Series) by Scarlet Wolfe, contemporary, erotic, romantic suspense (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Victoria Hart is supposed to be the enemy. She is an undercover detective who infiltrated my hotel and casino as an employee to take down my illegal enterprise. What she doesn’t know is I am fully aware of it. The operation I’m orchestrating is monumental compared to anything her mind could envision.It’s the burning desire I feel when she’s near that I didn’t see coming. An unwavering draw to touch her, and the need to break down her walls is testing my restraint; however, nothing can stand in the way of my ultimate goal. She could destroy everything my brothers and I have worked toward to avenge our father’s death.To keep the upper hand, it is vital to know your enemy. How deeply can I go, peeling back her intriguing layers while still concealing the truth? How much of Victoria can I claim before she’s too close … too close for me to let her go? This novel ends in a cliffhanger and is for a mature audience due to harsh language and descriptive sexual scenes.

23006645A Desperate Wager by Em Taylor, regency historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Nathaniel Spencer, the Fourteenth Duke of Kirkbourne wakes up with an almighty hangover and a wager note in his pocket stating he has agreed to marry the Earl of Brackingham’s daughter. And he can’t even remember ever meeting the chit. Clearly his drinking has got out of hand.

Lady Sarah Steele is horrified when her father announces that the Duke of Kirkbourne has agreed to marry her and even more horrified that her father wagered her hand in a game of cards. Not only that, but the earl has not told the duke of the riding accident that left Sarah paralysed when she was sixteen. But he’s dying and she knows he wants to see her settled before the inevitable happens.

Despite Nate’s drinking and Sarah’s possible complicity in the earl’s plan, they agree to marry. But when accidents start to happen, the newly-weds must deal not only with the fact they are practically strangers, but they must find out who is trying to kill one or both of them. Nate’s drink problem and Sarah’s disability are only a couple of the hurdles they must face to find lasting love.

Werewolves of Shade (Book One)Werewolves of Shade (Beautiful Immortals #1) by Tim O’Rourke, paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…

Note: This ends in a cliff-hanger. Part Two will be released 13th February 2015 and is now available for pre-order.

For readers 16+

strands-of-sollus-3Strands of Sollus by Cheryl Suchacek, fantasy, erotic (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: A contract from the Order of Aurora sends Myst in pursuit of a stolen magic sword. The job soon finds her partnering with Lotus, the rightful owner of the sword, as well as two beings bound to each other, Tol and Grayoch.

In the course of their mission, the group uncovers that behind the theft are sinister forces bent on resurrecting the dark lord, Maridon, in order to overwhelm the forces of light and take over the world of Sollus.

Facing their enemies, Myst finds that not only does she have to contend with Maridon and his minions, she also has to deal with the growing complications of her relationship with Tol and Lotus.


Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard, contemporary, romantic comedy, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

**REVIEW** Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard

After thoroughly enjoying Laura Barnard‘s previous work with ‘The Debt & the Doormat’ series, I couldn’t wait to read her latest novel, Tequila & Tea Bags! Barnard’s writing style is full of humour and antics, whilst romance is also blooming for the main characters. The only trouble is, will their love survive these comedic, but sometimes troublesome, capers? If you like, quirkiness and cringe-worthy moments, packed with emotion and fun, then you will LOVE Laura Barnard’s work!

Blurb

Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

REVIEW

Romantic comedy and chick-lit fans will LOVE Laura Barnard‘s work, and Tequila & Tea Bags is no exception! Poor Rose! She’s young and hasn’t a clue which direction to go in. With no real true friends, apart from Janey who is swanning off to Mexico for a good time, and no solid boyfriend, she spends her time living the high life, drinking and having sex! After her parents have had enough they decide to drive her up to a small village in Yorkshire where she can stay with her cousin Elsie who is preparing to become a nun!

As you can probably imagine, the idea of living somewhere so quiet and remote does not excite Rose one bit. It isn’t long before Rose, the new girl in the village, is becoming distracting and causing problems for many of the residents, although unintentionally.

Tequila & Tea Bags is a fun and emotional read. Rose is so easy to like and relate to – she even has elements of my younger self as she is impatient to have a good time and wanting to let herself go, and yet she has such a big heart that many don’t see because of her actions sometimes. As soon as people begin to see the good in her, they then find out about her latest capers and they get pulled away again!

Because of the connection I could make with Rose, I mean, she is so lovable but also flawed, it makes the story believable, down-to-earth and full of feeling. Mix this with humour and the magic of romance, which lifts the reader’s spirits, and it is a delightful read. I was so involved with the storyline that I found myself cringing at times as I could see another shenanigan unfold and Rose getting into deeper trouble.

There are also many loveable characters in Tequila & Tea Bags. Aside from the elderly residents in the care home – some of whom you’ll love dearly – there are also Will, James (the one Rose was warned to stay clear of), Riley (the vile ex of Rose’s love interest), her new friends in Megan and Lauren, as well as the elderly couple living next door who carry out sexual role play pretending to be The Black Eyed Peas!! Many of the locals have their own stories that Rose learns about and becomes involved with during her stay, however to go into too much detail about these characters now would spoil all the fun.

My final point on Laura Barnard‘s stories is that they are packed with solid characters and storylines for many of them, which really supports the main story. There is always something happening, even if the main character has a moment of solace. And the read truly is an emotional rollercoaster as you find yourself laughing out loud, cringing, telling the characters off and drawn to tears at times. I love Laura Barnard‘s books and can’t wait to read her next story!

A copy of Tequila & Tea Bags was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Laura previous work includes The Debt & the Doormat and it’s sequel, The Baby and the Bride. Both books have been reviewed on this blog, and both received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can also find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

**RELEASE BLITZ** Tequila & Teabags by Laura Barnard

Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in
the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her
friends as a club rep in Mexico.
 
When she hears about a council
incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the
most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.
 
But she doesn’t plan on bonding with
the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie
not to become a Nun.
 
Soon she’s questioning who her real
friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.
Can the village win her over and will
she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

 

 

 
Meet
Laura

My name is Laura Barnard and I am an
author from Hertfordshire, UK. My first chick-lit novel, The Debt & the
Doormat was an Amazon number 1 best-seller and won Best Laugh Out Loud Book of
2013. It is available via Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks. Barnes and Noble, The
Book Depository and many more.

 
In my spare time I enjoy drinking my
body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of my face, drooling over
hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio…oh and my husband of
course! I like wearing yoga clothes and reading fitness magazines while I sit
on the sofa and eat chocolate. I’m a real fan of the power nap and of course,
READING!
 
I write not to get rich or famous, but
because I LOVE writing. Even if one person tells me they enjoyed my book it
makes the midnight typing worth it!
Follow
Laura

 

 

**COVER REVEAL** Tequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard

 

TequilaTeabags Front cover

We are delighted to present the cover for Laura Barnard’s next release, Tequila & Tea Bags. This will be released on November 17th!  I am looking forward to reviewing this fun chick-lit with romance. Tequila & Tea Bags is a stand alone novel, not to be confused with Laura’s ‘The Debt & the Doormat’ series!

Blurb

Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

TequilaTeabags complete cover backandfront Final_Design

Teaser!!!

Tequila Tea Bags Teaser-2

You can check it out on Goodreads too!

Although Tequila & Tea Bags is a stand alone novel. Please check out her previous work below. The reviews will give  you an idea on just how FUN Laura’s books are!!

Laura previous work includes The Debt & the Doormat and it’s sequel, The Baby and the Bride. Both books have been reviewed on this blog, and both received a brilliant 5* from us on Goodreads and Amazon! The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads of 2013! Check our reviews by clicking on the links below:-

the-debt-the-doormat_1The Debt & the Doormat

This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. Go grab a copy now!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The Baby & the Bride (incl. interview with Laura Barnard)

You can also find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US for a small price.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

**Review** That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies by Rob E. Boley

That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies (Scary Tales, #1)

That Risen Snow has a twist on the Snow White fairytale and is to be read as a sequel to the original, albeit adult readers only (17yrs+). Complete with Snow White, the seven dwarves, the prince and the evil Queen it is a quirky horror story that will certainly be a treat for Halloween!! This is  Rob Boley’s debut novel, published earlier in 2014 by StoneGate Ink. And the first in The Scary Tales series.

BLURB: The zombie sequel to Snow White begins where the classic fairy tale ends, with the Prince’s kiss waking Snow from her cursed slumber. Snow wakes up, but she doesn’t wake up right.

Now a deranged zombie, Snow infects both the Prince and the seven dwarfs’ leader. That leaves the young dwarf Grouchy, who is secretly in love with Snow, to find a cure for her malicious curse. So begins an epic journey that pits the lovesick Grouchy against dwarf-hating human soldiers, Snow’s ever-growing zombie horde, and his own bad temper. But when Grouchy and his motley crew of survivors escape Snow’s clutches and seek refuge in a nearby human village, he soon finds that her affliction has spread faster and further then he ever could have imagined. Snow is hell-bent on spreading her horrid curse across the land, and it’s up to Grouchy to stop her before it’s too late.

So begins THE SCARY TALES, a dark fantasy series featuring mash-ups of traditional fairy tale characters and classic horror monsters.

REVIEW

Trick or treat? That Risen Snow is a brilliant combination of horror, quirkiness and fairytale, although certainly for the adult reader! It is definitely a ‘treat’ in my opinion. I imagined the dwarves to be scared for their life in a truly dark, life threatening and terrifying horror, filled with blood, guts and gore. Although this was a part of the story, what really surprised me was the fun and humour content as well as the heart-warming feelings that Grouchy has for Snow White.

The dwarves are like you have never imagined, with bad language and sarcasm, but these moments add another element. They are not typical of the dwarves we are familiar with, but in fact have characteristics of real people, which I loved. Even Snow White wasn’t as graceful and elegant as one would think!

The layout of the story is interesting too, with chapters written from the different character’s perspectives. The reader learns what is happening with each character which keeps the reader informed and able to see where the author is going, and suspense can be built-up from this. Another area of the story which fascinated me were the flashbacks. The flashbacks were mostly Grouchy’s personal thoughts and feelings towards Snow since she came to their cottage. The reader feels the growth of affection that Grouchy has for Snow and begins to understand why he wants to find a cure for her curse, rather than just be rid of her and the undead.

After reading this you will certainly feel that you know the dwarves more personally than ever before. From the past thoughts and dialogue between the dwarves we are made aware that they have all been having private discussions with their leader, Bones. Each dwarf has their own problem and obstacle that they need to overcome and Bones was helping them with this. Merry’s story was one that touched me, as we learn that he longed to be trusted and respected by the others. Bones gave him tasks to do to make him feel worthy and needed, but once their life changes and they are being chased by the undead Grouchy tells Merry how it really is. It is then up to Merry to either pity himself or do something about it.

Battson, a dwarf-hating human soldier working with the Prince, is, initially, an unlikeable character who would prefer to see the dwarves harmed in a typical encounter. Yet, as the story unfolds and continues into a survival story, the war between human soldiers and dwarves is swept aside as they begin to work together to keep the remaining survivors alive and hopefully find a cure for this disease that their friends are suffering from. Battson does begin to slowly show a quiet, heroic side which changes the readers opinion into respecting and admiring him for his new-found quality.

Although an extremely trying time of desperation, hardship and fear, the reader does not be given many opportunities to feel the tragedy and terror due to the humour and fun way in which it That Risen Snow is written. However, as the story continues, and more dwarves and soldiers are turning, it does become a little more serious and desperate for the remaining survivors. The reader is left on a hanger at the end, and I for one really want to know the outcome in the sequel, That Wicked Apple! Grouchy has come so far, and for the reader to walk away at this point would be like leaving him there for the curse to take him too!!

A copy of That Risen Snow: A Scary Tale of Snow White & Zombies was provided by the author, Rob E. Boley, for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

You can check out our SPOLIGHT for That Risen Snow with author bio for Rob E. Boley, along with extracts of more reviews here.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones #3) by Helen Fielding (blurb & review)

Bridget Jones: Mad About the BoyBlurb: What do you do when your girlfriend’s sixtieth birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s thirtieth? Is it better to die of Botox or die of loneliness because you’re so wrinkly? Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating? Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Is it normal to be too vain to put on your reading glasses when checking your toy boy for head lice? Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant? Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood? If you put lip plumper on your hands do you get plump hands? Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day? Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age.

REVIEW:

This was an absolute pleasure to read. Oh, I have missed Bridget! Mad About the Boy is as hilarious as ever and very heart-warming. I found myself laughing out loud one moment and resorting to tears the next at this sensitive time in Bridget’s life. And now she is back on the ‘single’ pile, a born-again virgin. Only, her friends urge her to change that fact! Is she ready?

Bridget (now 51), has aged, along with her audience; she was married, had children, and lived a settled family life. I found this easy to relate to as a reader, making the story believable and easy to read. I loved how Fielding has kept to the characters we all know and love, i.e. her family, her friends and even…… Daniel Cleaver!!! And yet, at the same time she has also introduced new characters as potential ‘love interests’ for Bridget. The main focus being on Roxster.

Roxster (29) is a fun and lovable character. He is cheeky, rude and dirty – but not in a Daniel Cleaver womanising way. Roxster is really uplifting for Bridget. He is silly, flirty, and yet he is respectful and mature when accepting Bridget’s lifestyle. The introduction of Roxster’s character is also great to cater for the younger audience, therefore building on the following that Bridget has.

As well as having to deal with her love-life, kids, mum and friends, Bridget is also juggling a screenwriting career and trying to work her way around modern technology! Being useless with a tv remote is one thing, but then figuring out Twitter, along with numerous dating sites, adds to the comedy. I found Fielding was able to use this aspect of the story to cleverly incorporate current issues into the storyline, e.g. horse meat found in ‘beef’ products, the Royals and their new arrival, etc. This kept the story real by allowing the reader to relate not only to the characters but the storyline as a whole.

There are areas of the story which I will not go into for fear of spoiling it for the potential reader. However, I do feel many of you will be a little disappointed with Mark Darcy’s storyline. I must admit that I was. However, life changes and it doesn’t always work out the way we thought. With this thought in mind, I was able to accept this instalment of Bridget Jones. Oddly enough, it is Darcy’s storyline which is fundamental to Bridget’s whole situation.

My only other niggle is that the story ended a little abrupt for me. There are twists (which I enjoy), however towards the end I didn’t feel that there was enough build-up for the reader to get too excited about. This did not change my overall feeling towards the novel as throughout I was giggling and generally feeling most of the emotions that Bridget was at the time. For me that was an important factor.

Mad About the Boy is written in the same diary-style we are used to seeing in this series. Bridget is still noting down her weight, calories and units of alcohol, with the added comical occurrence and sarcastic remarks. Due to the style of the chapter layouts it is very easy to put down and pick up where you left off so easy, whilst also allowing for those readers that can only fill a few minutes of reading here and there.

Certainly not my favourite of the Bridget Jones series (that will have to be the original), however for fans of the series, Helen Fielding and/or those who are looking for a fun, heart-warming starting-to-date-again chick-lit/rom-com Mad About the Boy is a touching and exciting read!

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US in both ebook and hardback versions, with paperback versions set for release in June 2014.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

The Baby & the Bride (The Debt & the Doormat #2) by Laura Barnard – blurb, interview & review!!!

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2The very much awaited sequel to Laura Barnard‘s ‘The Debt & the Doormat’ has been released today, 1st March 2014. I am thrilled to introduce ‘The Baby & the Bride’. Not only are we lucky enough to post the fantastic cover, blurb and review this hilarious chick-lit/rom-com, but we also take pride in interviewing Laura. This is certainly not one to be missed! We hope you enjoy! (Please scroll down for Laura’s interview and our review below). Caroline 🙂

BOOK BLURB:

Poppy and Jazz’s lives sound perfect on paper.  Jazz has a new baby and Poppy’s getting married.  But their realities are very different.

Poppy must strive to keep her cool new job with crazy hours, while trying to keep Ryan happy.  Before she knows it her wedding has got out of control, thanks to her mother, the runners at work are bullying her, her parents are in financial difficulty and she’s doubting everything and everyone she ever knew.

Meanwhile Jazz is struggling with motherhood, something a credit card won’t fix.  Why won’t this baby give her a break?  Will Jazz be able to cope before she loses it?

And will Poppy make it down the aisle?  Will Ryan even be waiting?

INTERVIEW with Laura Barnard:

Hi Laura and welcome to A Reader’s Review Blog. I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time out for answering some questions in regard to your new release, ‘The Baby & the Bride’, sequel to ‘The Debt & the Doormat’!

When did you realise there was going to be a sequel to The Debt & the Doormat, or was it planned before you began writing the first novel?

I never actually planned on writing a sequel.  When I released The Debt & the Doormat I never had any idea of how popular it was going to be.  It was only when book bloggers and fans started messaging me begging for one, I thought why not!

Does the comedy in your work reflect your personality? If so, would you say you were like Poppy, Jazz or any other character from your books?

I love all things comedy, although I didn’t exactly set out to make the book ‘funny.’ I just wanted it to be embarrassing and amusing; I definitely wasn’t expecting it to reach #1 Amazon best seller in free humour! 

I’d say I’m definitely like Poppy.  I’m so accident prone it’s ridiculous!  My husband is constantly saying things like ‘What is wrong with you? Why can’t you get through the day without getting another bruise?!’ I think I just have no co-ordination and I don’t realise how wide my hips are – I’m constantly just walking into walls, window sills, door handles.  It’s a wonder I survive at all!  I also have a serious problem with saying ‘no’ to people, which lands me doing all kinds of ridiculous things.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve started a story and my friends have said ‘having problem saying no again, Laura?  Stop saying yes!’  I’m just a people pleaser!  But I’m trying to be better.

And have you written about any of your own experiences in your novels?

Yes, some of them have actually happened to me, some have happened to friends and some are pure imagination.  I won’t embarrass myself and tell you which ones! 

Both book covers look great! Could you let us know who designed them and how much input you had?

My friend Karis Staniforth from Deer Beth (www.deerbeth.co.uk) designed both.  I had a lot of input and am naturally bossy.  It’s hard when it’s a friend, as I can feel bad asking for things to be re-done, etc, but she’s always given me amazing covers.  I’d definitely recommend her to everyone. 

What influenced you to become a writer, and in particular to write a rom-com?

I’m obviously a massive reader and also enjoy watching loads of films.  It’s naturally the genre I go towards.  I don’t like the idea of writing something so ridiculously deep that it would depress me.  I want to write something with a happy ending that will put a smile on someone’s face.  That’s what I want when I escape into a book. Unless I fancy some book porn ha ha!

When taking a break from writing what do you like to do?

Take a break? What is that?  Ha ha!  I like to hang out with my family, who I’m very close to.  My friends are also a tonic.  We go see movies, talk about how much weight we want to lose and discuss the filthy books we’ve read.  I know I can always call them and whinge down the phone ‘I think this book is going to be crap,’ and they’ll tell me to shut the hell up and get on with it.  It’s the smack back to reality I need.  Other than that I love to sleep!  I could seriously sleep twelve hours a night if allowed to. 

Will there be a third book in the series?

No.  This is definitely the last instalment for the foreseeable future.  I’ve wrapped everything up at the end and want to concentrate on my next stand-alone book.  As a reader I can get frustrated with a series, as you don’t feel closure until the next book, which you normally have to wait a year for.  Although never say never.  Jazz does inherit her trust fund money when she turns thirty and this could change a lot of dynamics within her relationships, which could be fun to look into. 

the-debt-the-doormat_1To read our review of The Debt & the Doormat (Book 1) by Laura Barnard please click here. This first book is FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US. The Debt & the Doormat was one of my Top Reads for 2013. Go grab a copy now!

REVIEW of The Baby & The Bride (Laura Barnard) by Caroline Barker:

She’s done it again! Another fantastic masterpiece in chick-lit/rom-com from Laura Barnard! Reading The Baby & the Bride is like meeting up with an old, close friend. Within seconds you become familiar with the characters you know and loved from Book 1, The Debt & the Doormat, and can easily relate to them, experiencing their roller-coaster of emotions. To read this book, you will need more wine, more choccies and be prepared for giggles throughout as Poppy and Jazz’s lives are turned upside down with some rather embarrassing moments along the way!

Oh dear, Poppy! Some things never change. She is still the doormat she always was, although trying not to be. It seems she’s running around after everyone like a headless chicken whilst Ryan is left waiting! Although very exciting, it can also be a disaster at times when your mother tries to plan your whole wedding for you and you haven’t a chance to express what you’d like! And Jazz, what trouble are you in this time? If it’s not debt, it’s a baby! What a fab start to the sequel, with great storylines for both characters and just as much excitement and tension as before. Laura Barnard has created a sequel that is just as good as the first.

The+Baby+%26+the+Bride_2In The Baby & the Bride Poppy and Jazz, although more grown up and settled in some ways, have their own crisis’ to deal with. At the same time they try to look out for each other, sometimes keeping secrets to protect the other from being hurt and yet always there to help each other when they are in need. We all need a Poppy and Jazz in our life, needing a pick up from time to time.

As a mother, I can completely relate to Jazz as early motherhood for her is exactly how I felt when I had my first – without too much exaggeration! In fact it was so precise, I thought that Laura Barnard was writing about me! The tiredness, the depression and the downright humiliating moments that childbirth and a baby can bring. But did I say depression? Well, yes, but Laura has a fantastic way of turning it around, uplifting these moments whilst at the same time still keeping them real. She makes it so natural for the reader to relate to the characters.

One of my favourite aspects of The Baby & the Bride is that Laura Barnard has kept all of the characters from The Debt & the Doormat. The reader can follow up Poppy and Jazz’s housemates, families and colleagues. Many of which have their own storylines which can interfere with Poppy and Jazz’s life at times, making their lives all the more topsy turvy! As Poppy hates to let anyone down she almost puts everybody else first, even before her own wedding!

The reader also has more of an incite into Ryan’s family (which brings along it’s own troubles which adds to all the chaos) and Poppy’s brother, Ollie. There is no mistake that Ryan is a hottie, handsome, sexy and affectionate. But as the reader discovers more about Ollie I’m sure there won’t be any disappointments there either!

As mentioned in my previous review of Book 1, this series is Bridget Jones meets Miranda Hart. As well as being heart-warming and sweet, one cannot escape the humour, the awkward moments and the slaptick. And when one sarky accusing question ends with ‘are we?‘ it reminded me of the Miranda tv series and I was in stitches. This is brilliant writing that had me laughing out loud so many times.

Due to the nature and fun style of Laura Barnard’s writing the series/book is a quick, fun read that leaves you feeling sparkly and energetic. It is completely uplifting. I strongly recommend that Book 1, The Debt & the Doormat, is read first, and at the moment there is no excuse as it is absolutely FREE on Amazon. However, The Baby & the Bride is written so well that new readers to this series could read this as a stand alone.

I cannot get enough of Laura Barnard’s writing. May she write many more wonderful, sweet and delightfully fun work in the future. This is an author not to be missed!

The Baby & the Bride was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

You can find The Baby & the Bride on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

You can also find the first book of the series, The Debt & the Doormat, for FREE on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Contact info:

Laura would love you to check out her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/laurabarnardbooks and while you’re visiting please give her a ‘like’!

Laura also has her own website at www.laurabarnardbooks.co.uk and is available on Twitter: @BarnardLaura

Reviewed by Caroline Barker