Making you talk about book genres.

So, we're onto my second interview of the #MakeYouTalkTuesday blog feature, and this week I have the lovely Rebecca from Forever Between Pages book blog. I chose to discuss book genres with Rebecca, and here's what we said...

The Interview

B ~ Today, I have the fabulous Rebecca with me, and we're going to be chatting about the different genres of books. Welcome, Bec!

R ~ Hi Bec, and thanks for having me! :)

B ~ So, when it comes to genres, which would you say is your favourite? 

R ~ Chick-lit or horror. It depends what kind of mood I'm in and where I am. Usually in winter, I love the horror/thriller books and then in summer I love a good chick-lit. 

B ~ Ooh, I love a good horror too. Let's talk about chick-lit first. What things does an author typically have to include in their story for you to class it as being in the chick-lit genre? 

R ~ I generally like it to have a nice setting, a hunky hero, and a love story. Even if there faint in the book generally what I like them to have. Ooo and a pretty cover. Chick-lits 9/10 have really nice girly covers. 

B ~ They do, totally agree. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover! And what about horror? Do you think there is a distinct line between the horror genre and the thriller genre? What would you say are the differences between these two? 

R ~ Ermmm... I don't really know to be honest. I think horrors are generally more gruesome/killer books and thrillers are more detective type books. 
I'm making no sense am I haha...

B ~ Course you are! I get what you mean. Horrors tend to feel a bit more on the creepy side, whereas thrillers are more detective. I get you! 

R ~ Yeah. That! Haha. And there's staple writers in horror such as Dean Koontz, Stephen King & Karin Slaughter. Them types. 

B ~ Oh, Stephen King. He's awesome. And we've spoken about Dean Koontz before. When it comes to covers, do you think you can determine what genre a book is just by looking at the cover? 

R ~ Yes definitely. Your chick-lits are girly and fun, horrors are darker and give away a lot less, thrillers usually have someone on the cover etc. You can generally tell. Sometimes a book can surprise you though. I was surprised by From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge! 

B ~ That's one I haven't read, but from looking at the cover I'd say it was girly/romantic/chick-lit? Am I wrong in saying that? 

R ~  It's definitely a romance/chick-lit but has such a cool twist to it. Really fun!

B ~ Sounds very exciting! Pretty sure it's on my never-ending to-read list somewhere! ;) 
So what's a genre that you don't normally go for? Your least favourite? 

R ~ Historical Fiction. I was sent a Philipa Gregory in a book swap, and it's in my to-read pile, but I've never found myself even looking for it if I'm honest. I never liked history in school, I'd rather go and look. 

B ~ That makes sense! I do enjoy reading a historical fiction now and again, but I don't think that I could read them constantly. 

Do you think there are any over-used plot lines within any of the genres that we've mentioned? 

R ~ Yeah, I love chick-lit but the 'girl runs away from crappy boyfriend, finds lovely man, boyfriend causes drama, gets together with said holiday romance, stays forever, happily ever after' definitely think that's over done a touch. But sometimes an author does write a book like that and adds something new. A nice twist to it. Such as Paige Toons The Longest Holiday, I bloody loved that book! 

B ~ Aurwh, Paige Toon is just brilliant with her chick-lit. She knows just how to hit the spot, doesn't she? I get what you mean. 
What about any typical plot lines in the horror genre? 

R ~ She really does, and she's a lovely person. I loved meeting her! 
With horror I'd say more than likely with the ones I read the plots are very varied! And each author adds their own twist to the book, adds something that only they can write. Like a signature kinda thing?! 

B ~ Yes! It's amazing how they do that, isn't it? 
Do you think that you would be able to tell which genre a person enjoys most just by looking at them? 

R ~ It really is something special! 
I used to get the train to uni every single morning, and whenever I'd see someone reading I'd always wonder what they were reading, and think what genre they'd more than likely be reading. With Kindles and E-readers it's a little more difficult now haha. 
But no, I don't think you can really. People surprise you with books. 

B ~ I agree. You could see a girly girl reading a gripping thriller, or a male reading a classic romance. You just don't know do you?!
Do you think a write gets better with more experience from writing in the same genre, or when writing different genres? 

R ~ I honestly think they do. Even Dickens got better, I mean I adore his books, and classics I think you can even see changes in their work. And even up-to-date writers like Dean Koontz who has over 50 odd books out, if you read the first and last there's a real difference.

B ~ So sticking with the same genre then? 

R ~ Yeah I think it's better. Sometimes feels odd reading a different genre from the same author. J.K. Rowling nailed Harry Potter but the Casual Vacancy was casual bore-fest! Haha.

B ~ Haha, I haven't read that one but yes, I can definitely understand what you mean. 
Are there any genres that you've never tried? 

R ~ I don't think so. I only read like a chapter of a historical fiction, but really don't like it. So I suppose you could say I've never had a full hearted attempt? I've only ever read one autobiography too. 

B ~ Do you prefer fiction to non-fiction? 

R ~ Yes definitely. It's more fun and quirky and even though it's not real I really connect with the characters. 

B ~ A lot of people talk about escapism when reading. You wouldn't find escapism in non-fiction, would you? 

R ~ I don't think so, I mean don't get me wrong I like reading them, but only if I like the person first? And it's be a rare occurrence. 

B ~ And what genre is your own bookshelf more or less made up of? 

R ~ Split half and half. I have two bookshelves. And chick-lit on one and horror on the other. 

B ~ Oh, you organised little lady, you! So, to finish off, could you tell me your top three books from the chick-lit genre, and your top three books from the horror genre? 

R ~ Haha! It's unusual. 

The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon
Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin
Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern
Midnight by Dean Koontz
The Sleep Room by F.R. Tallis
Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs 

Been a pleasure Bec, loved it!

B ~ Thanks so much for taking part, Bec! Loved having you here!   

The List by Joanna Bolouri

I never thought that one little list would turn my entire life upside down.

Title - The List
Author - Joanna Bolouri 
Publisher - Quercus
Publication Date - April 10th 2014
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 400

The blurb

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn't feel fabulous.It's been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution. 

The List: Ten things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right? 

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe's got her work cut out for her. 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, a massive thank you to the fabulous Lauren from Quercus for sending me a gorgeous copy of The List in the post! Such an eye-catching cover, and I won't lie, I stroked it. Multiple times. Ahem. And of course, an even bigger thank you to the absolutely hilarious author Joanna Bolouri for providing me with a book which I can now happily and honestly class as one of my all-time favourites. From back to front, I laughed, and came close to wetting myself on more than one occasion. 

The List is written in the form of a diary (which I LOVE!), spanning out over the length of a year, and belonging to the brilliant Miss Phoebe Henderson, after being suggested to her by her therapist, as a way to let Phoebe's pent-up thoughts and emotions loose. Have you ever wanted to have sex with a complete stranger? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to try sex, but using the back-door rather than the front? And have you EVER wanted to get dressed up and enjoy a bit of role-play? Yes, you say? Well, I think you and Phoebe Henderson may have a few things in common. The List takes you along on Phoebe's journey of sexual-discovery, and I think, self-discovery too. Not only is she moving forward into her future, but she's also letting go of her past, and of a man who definitely does not deserve or appreciate her as much as he should. 

Throughout the four hundred pages, not once did I feel like I was getting bored, not once did I roll my eyes at the story-line, and not once did I put the book down willingly. I was constantly entertained, and even when something major wasn't happening in the plot, I was then looking forward to Phoebe's next sexual challenge, or date, or a party, or just ANYTHING that was coming up in her life. Joanna gifted Phoebe with such a strong, believable character, that I genuinely felt like I knew her in real life. Being invited to read through her diary was just brilliant, there's something so personal and sneaky about it, and it add heaps to the enjoyability scale in my eyes. 

Besides Phoebe, there are just TONS of characters for you to get to know. First and foremost is the absolutely charming Oliver, Phoebe's best-friend. I began to develop a major crush for this guy as I carried on with the story, despite him being a complete ladies man. Phoebe and Oliver's relationship was one to be envied. They joked, insulted each other, laughed, hung out, and their closeness was evident. Oliver looks out for Phoebe, and also detests her ex Alex. At the beginning of the novel, Phoebe is still pretty messed up from Alex's actions, and Oliver helps to put her back together, not only with companionship, but with agreeing to a little something else, too. Oliver was brilliant. A one-of-a-kind type of guy who I think really made the novel what it was. 

There's also Lucy, Phoebe's female best-friend, who provides the wine and stupid ideas, but makes Phoebe smile constantly. Again, the relationship between Phoebe and Lucy was gorgeous, they confided in each other, helped each other out and emailed each other during work. I genuinely looked forward to whenever Phoebe and Lucy got together, their chit-chat never failing to make me giggle and want to spend time with my own best-friend. Lucy was lovely! She also added in the great aspect of failing dates to the story, which Phoebe also experiences by the way, and I was sitting there hoping that she's find her Prince Charming sooner rather than later. I was completely pulled into Phoebe's whole life, experiencing her boring days at work, the excitement of the upcoming challenges, and drinks with the ladies which would no doubt involve in an interesting topic of conversation. 

Everything about The List drew me in, from the characters to the sexual challenges, I was hooked! Joanna unearths the truth about experimenting and trying out new things to do with the bedroom. Seeing Phoebe taking on the challenges was brilliant, and with a sense of humour like hers, it made for comical reading. Outrageous at times, but addictive the entire way through, The List by Joanna Bolouri is a MUST-READ, through and through. Joanna, five cupcakes from me! ;)



The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks ~ BLOG TOUR!

"Don't take my advice. Or anyone's advice. Trust yourself. For good or for bad, happy or unhappy, it's your life, and what you do with it has always been entirely up to you." 

Title - The Best of Me
Author - Nicholas Sparks
Publisher - Sphere, Little, Brown UK
Publication Date - September 11th 2014 
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)

The blurb

They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks - with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart. 

Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip... 

Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. 

Can true love ever rewrite the past? 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd just like to say a huge thank you to the wonderful Poppy Stimpson from Little, Brown UK for sending me a copy of The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks, and also for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this beautiful story! Super excited to be taking part, so thank you, Poppy!

Before now, I have never had the pleasure of diving into a book by Nicholas Sparks. I've seen them, of course, but they've always been surrounded by an air of overwhelming sadness and surreal love, and so I've stayed away. But, when I was asked if I would like to read and review The Best of Me for the blog tour, I realised that my time of avoiding the heart-ache was over, and that sooner rather than later, I would have to read a Nicholas Sparks book, whether I liked it or not. When it arrived, I fanned the pages against my fingers hesitantly, and re-read the blurb again and again, and with a deep breath, I turned to page one and began. 

Now, here I am, after finishing the book, and I just don't know what to say. 

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks was powerful, poignant, and deeply moving. At first, I was under the impression that this was going to be just another beautiful love story, but when I turned the last page, I had already realised that it was so much more than that. The story conjured up a complete mess of emotions inside of me, drawing tears and heartache and a crazy surge of hope for the characters, Amanda and Dawson. Memories flooded the pages, bringing with them an overpowering sense of sentimentality and nostalgia, and without giving too much away, there's nothing quite like second-chance love. I love it. Absolutely love it. I love it when two characters are forced apart, and then for some reason, are drawn back together. I love how feelings that have been long-forgotten, begin to bubble beneath the surface. ARGH, it's so bloody romantic! 

Despite the stunning romance within the story, of course, there was a whole load of sadness alongside it. And when I say sadness, I mean that I bawled my freaking eyes out and had to take deep breaths to calm myself down. It blew my mind. Silenced me. Completely screwed with my heart. It was just SO powerful and absolutely crystal clear that this novel was one that will stay with me forever. Selfless, one of the best kinds, the type of love that lasts long after we leave the earth. 

Becca's Books is giving The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks a FABULOUS five cupcake rating! As I said, the story within is now ingrained into my mind, and I keep finding myself thinking back to it, wondering if there is love like that, out there somewhere, in the big wide world. An AMAZING book to read to introduce myself to the world of Nicholas Sparks. I am in love with this man's writing, characters, and beautiful imagination. Just INCREDIBLE.



These blogger friends of mine...

I think, as I've grown older, I've grown apart from people. People that I thought I'd be incredibly close to for basically the rest of my life. Unfortunately, life gets in the way. Work, family life, drama, just all those things that kinda' separate you. To tell you the truth, readers, I'm a little bit of a loner. I think maybe always having my face in a book could have played some small role in this, or the fact that I'm not a very outgoing person maybe, but the truth is, I kinda' love to be alone, with a cup of tea and a good book. It's not so bad that I don't see another human being for weeks on end, but these days, I tend to keep to myself. Of course, I see the people that I used to be close to every now and again, but everyone seems so busy with their own lives these days, that I guess I decided to do the same. If I pass them in the street, it's a quick "Hello, how are you doing?", and then we part ways until we happen to fall across each other some other time. It's sad really, isn't it? How friends grow apart over time. At one point we would have been whispering and giggling about our latest misdemeanors, intertwined with each others lives, and barely a day would pass by without us talking. Sadly, that's not the case these days. 

When I became a book-blogger, I was introduced to a world full of people who share the same interests with me, who have the same "bookish" quirks as me, and who, despite me never meeting them face to face, have made me feel like I'm not a loner anymore. Crazy, isn't it? I've never hugged these people, never spoken to them using my actual voice, never nudged them playfully or laughed with them, and yet, I feel like I have a whole other family right here. A bunch of people who make me smile endlessly, who make me giggle and also make me feel like I'm not and never will be alone. Some of them live on the other side of the world, others live a couple of hours away. I remember before I became a book-blogger, I would scoff at the idea of on-line friendships and wonder what the hell the world was coming to. But do you know what? Thinking about it now, I am incredibly grateful that our paths managed to cross, and I honestly do not know what the hell I would do without these people in my life. We say "Good-morning" to each other, we say "Good-night" to each other. We share our worries and troubles, we celebrate each other's ups, and offer comfort for each other's downs. We talk non-stop, about books, about our different lifestyles, about our jobs, about how we feel about anything and everything, ha, we even tell each other what we're having for dinner that night. These bloggers are my comfort blanket. My go-to ladies that lift me up when I'm down. I have wanted, so many times, to reach into my screen and squeeze these people tight, just to let them know how much I appreciate them being there. It's unreal. What started out as a few friendly tweets here and there, now feels like a friendship that is unbreakable. 

A friend, no matter how that friend was made, is a friend. 

Do you have a bunch of blogger friends who make you feel less alone? Who comfort you, and make you smile? Why not post below and share the blogger love? 

To my special bunch of ladies, I adore you x


The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan ~ BLOG TOUR!

"Hope is a wonderful thing." 

Title - The Mill River Redemption
Author - Darcie Chan
Publisher - Sphere, Little, Brown UK
Publication Date - August 26th 2014
Format - (Paperback provided via publisher)

The blurb

Having unexpectedly lost her husband and lacking the means to support herself, Josie DiSanti and her two daughters take refuge in the small town of Mill River to live with Josie's aunt, Ivy. The sisters, Rose and Emily, are inseparable growing up - until a shocking tragedy tears them apart. 

Years later, Rose and Emily return to Mill River for the reading of their mother's will where they learn that Josie would do anything to force their reconciliation: the sisters must move into neighbouring houses for the summer and work together to locate the key to Josie's safe deposit box, which contains their inheritance. And so, left with no choice, Rose and Emily reluctantly begin their search. But in a place known for its magic and miracles, little do they know that an even greater treasure awaits them...

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, major thanks to the fabulous Clara Diaz from Little, Brown UK for sending me a copy of The Mill River Redemption and for getting me involved with the blog tour, which I am absolutely delighted to be a part of, by the way! And an even bigger thank you to the author Darcie Chan. I cannot put into words how much I truly enjoyed The Mill River Redemption, but in typical Becca's Books fashion, I'm about to rant and rave about it, and hopefully you'll be able to make some sense out of my rambling. So, here goes! 

I have to say, when Clara sent me the email asking if I'd be interested in reading The Mill River Redemption, I was a teensy bit dubious. It's not that it sounded rubbish or anything like that, it was just because it wasn't something that I would normally pick up to read. But, I thought what the hell, it's probably time I broadened my bookish horizons and dipped into something completely different to what I'm used to. And let me tell you something readers, I have never been happier about taking a chance on a book. Never.

Darcie Chan splits the narration between a number of major characters. First and foremost is Josie DiSanti, mother of Rose and Emily, and also widow. The story begins as Josie and her daughters are on their way to live with Josie's aunt Ivy in Mill River. It's a brand new start, and a fresh chance at life for all of them. 

The structure of The Mill River Redemption is absolutely breath-taking. Not only does Darcie switch the narrative between Josie, her girls, Aunty Ivy, and a number of other Mill River characters, but she also hops back and forth in time, too. I adored this, absolutely adored it. You were given glimpses of their life just starting out in Mill River, and then Darcie brought you back to the present day, where for some unknown reason, the sisters Rose and Emily now detest each other, and Josie's wake is being attended. There is nothing more delightful than being whisked back in time to a characters past, especially when the past and present are so powerfully different. It's incredible to read and experience, and Darcie did such an exceptional job of it. I really was stunned. 

I think Darcie created every type of character when it came to the people of Mill River. Of course, you have the main characters of the story, Josie, Rose, Emily, Aunt Ivy... But there was also Father O'Brien (Mill River's very own priest), Kyle (one of Mill River's police chiefs), Claudia (Kyle's girlfriend), Alex (Rose's son), Sheldon (Rose's husband), Daisy (a local woman who brews up potions). Honestly readers, there was just so much to get my teeth into! I loved the whole community atmosphere that Darcie created. It felt like one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody else, and it was incredibly easy for me to lose myself within it. 

When Josie DiSanti passes away and Rose, Emily, Aunt Ivy and a few other Mill River residents come together for Josie's wake, Darcie begins to let the reader know that something major happened before that point and the sisters cannot stand each other. You're constantly made aware of the glances and snide remarks that occasionally slip out. At this point though, you've already been taken to the past and seen how much Rose and Emily adored each other when they were children, and so, you can't help but try to imagine what on earth threw them so far apart from each other. The reason, once it is revealed to you, is both tragic and heartbreaking, and suddenly, the divide between them completely makes sense. Darcie is amazing at keeping you guessing as you read. She drops the most subtle hints here and there, almost as if she's teasing you and reeling you in once she knows that you're hooked. Which I was, throughout the entirety of reading.

When Rose and Emily are made aware of their mother's last wishes, they are horrified. What Josie wants them to do is live next to each other, and work together to unearth the hidden clues that will unlock their inheritance. Now, this would have been brilliant if the sisters actually liked each other, but as it is, they can't stand to be in each other's presence for more than a few minutes. I do believe that this part of the story, the part where Rose and Emily have to be together, was my favourite. They bicker and fight and argue, in true typical sister fashion, and I found it endlessly entertaining. 

The sisters, now that they are all grown up, are the complete opposites of each other. Rose, the eldest of the two, has an alcohol problem. She lives in a swanky pad with her husband Sheldon and their son Alex. For Rose, escaping from Mill River as soon as she possibly could was her only priority, so having to come back and actually live there wasn't something that she very happy about. It upset me actually, to see what she had become when I had already been introduced to this pleasant little girl who cared for her younger sister. Rose in the present day seemed to me to be a very bitter, spiteful woman, who was struggling underneath her guilt and regret for what happened all those years ago. I also found Rose to be very stubborn, mouthy, and loud. 

Emily, on the other hand, was quiet, polite and didn't lose her temper until she'd been  pushed right to the very edge by her elder sister. She didn't have as many material possessions as her big sister, so when she moved to Mill River to uncover the secrets of their mother's will, she arrived in her beaten up old car, with her dog Gus. Emily knew Rose had a drinking problem and couldn't stand it. Both sisters were gorgeous, and both had their own reasons for figuring out where their mother's inheritance was.    

I can't say how blown away I was with the emotional effect of this story. I have four younger sisters myself and so I know of the unbreakable bond that is formed. I can't ever imagine being in the same situation that Rose and Emily found themselves in, and so it really moved me and made me want to squeeze my siblings tighter. There is such a chasm between them, and just as much as Josie wished for them to come back together, I did too. I was hoping and praying that before Darcie closed her story, they would put their pasts (even though it was horribly difficult) behind them and start again. Besides the sisters though, I couldn't help but notice the constant thrum of family and love that laced every page. Josie would have done anything for her girls and you see this when Darcie takes you to the past. It was moving, bitter-sweet and gut-wrenching.

Beyond the love and the family feel of the read, there's also mystery and magic, which added such a beautiful touch to the setting of Mill River. Secrets oozed out of the pages and intrigue and mystery completely took hold of me. Darcie help me captive with the story of the DiSanti ladies, and she will do the same to you, too. Trust me when I say this readers, The Mill River Redemption will be one of those books that creep inside your mind and mess with your emotions, as well as your outlook on life. The message that popped into my head as I turned the last page is that life is too short for regrets, and that there's always time for forgiveness. The characters, the beautiful story, and the unique way in which it was told was staggering. I am so glad that I took a chance on this epic story and I am dying to read Darcie's debut novel The Mill River Recluse just to feel that magic once more. 

I think it's evident that The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan will be receiving FIVE cupcakes from me. I only hope and pray that myself and my own sisters stay as close as we are, and if a distance was to ever appear between us, I'd take a leaf from the DiSanti girls' book. 


Hopelessly Devoted to You by Jill Steeples

There were far too many decisions to be made when it came to dumping your boyfriend.

Title - Hopelessly Devoted to You
Author - Jill Steeples 
Publisher - Carina UK 
Publication Date - August 14th 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 304

The blurb

Meet Ruby's fiancé, Finn. He's gorgeous, thoughtful, successful and adoring - pretty much everything anyone could ever want in a man. In fact, he's perfect. The catch? He's just not perfect for her. But when Ruby finally plucks up the courage to come clean, Finn's so furious that he misses his footing as he runs down the stairs - and suddenly, it's not just his heart that's broken!

When Finn wakes up, he can't remember a thing. Not that Ruby dumped him - not even that they were ever engaged! It's on the tip of Ruby's tongue to come clean, but somehow, it never seems to the right time... And as the weeks pass, she sees a new side to Finn. Arrogant and a shameless flirt, he's irresistibly bad, and the chemistry between them is explosive!

It's not that Ruby's lying... she's just withholding the truth. And seeing as things are going so well, perhaps there's no need for Finn to have his memory jogged... The trouble is, there's every chance Finn might remember for himself. 

Becca's thoughts

The fabulous Jill Steeples has done it again! After reading and reviewing Jill's previous title Let's Call The Whole Thing Off, I could not wait to get my hands on another one of her brilliant stories, so when I spotted Hopelessly Devoted to You on NetGalley, I clicked the crap out of the request button and held my breath until it was safely downloaded onto my Kindle, leaving me in the safe knowledge that it was ready and waiting for me. Ahh, bliss! 

I ADORE Jill's writing style. It's fresh, it's girly, it's feminine, and it's also comical. It's everything that you expect to find when reading a good, solid chick-lit book, and Hopelessly Devoted to You was everything that I hoped for. Jill writes so fluidly and it just makes the whole experience of reading it completely effortless. Within the story itself, there's the fabulous heroine Ruby, her hunky Lawyer fiancé Finn, and a colourful, entertaining cast of other characters that keep you smiling all the way through. 

Ruby's character was one that I loved immediately. From the get-go, she was incredibly likeable, and I just couldn't help but to cover my face with my hands and groan when her plan to admit the truth to her perfect fiancé went completely down the pan. I freaking LOVED the terrible turn of events that Jill added to her plot, and it was such a spanner in the works to Ruby's plans! I felt so damn sorry for the girl and I was constantly kept wondering about what the hell she was going to do next. Ruby wasn't a bad person, not at all. I think she was just scared about telling Finn the truth, and I thought it was completely understandable. What I adored was that Finn hadn't actually done anything wrong. He was pretty much perfect! He hadn't cheated on her, lied to her, broken her trust... She just kinda' fell out of love with him and was waiting for the right time to tell him. But of course, with their wedding looming and Ruby questioning whether what she felt for Finn was enough to ahead with marrying the guy? Well, I just couldn't put it down. 

Finn, Ruby's fiancé, was lovely. A lawyer, polite, loving, caring... Everything that you could ever want in your future husband, except Ruby of course. That is until his accident, and he returns to reality almost as a different man entirely. Jill must have had so much bloody fun writing Hopelessly Devoted to You because I found constant satisfaction when reading it! Finn begins as a rather safe and normal character, and then all at once, is replaced by a flirty, gobby male who suddenly decides that he's changing the direction of his life completely. What made it even MORE interesting was the fact that Finn lost his memory, and it's only a matter of waiting for Finn to regain his memories of that night and remember what Ruby's last words were before he tumbled.

I felt like I was constantly waiting, alongside Ruby, for Finn to snap back to reality and remember Ruby's words. It was a waiting game; tension, lip chewing and a million and one worries about what Ruby was going to do IF that happened.

It was just BRILLIANT. A gorgeous story about falling out of love, and then falling straight back in. I loved the characters, the plot, the constant humming of the truth lying just beneath the surface, bubbling it's way to eruption! This truly was a fabulous read and I would recommend it to any chick-lit lovers out there who are in need of a pick-me-up! Hopelessly Devoted to You by Jill Steeples is the one! Four yummy cupcakes from me Jill! 




Becca's first giveaway ~ A little thank you!

Hi lovely bloggers. 

I've been blogging for a while now, and it's came to my attention that I've never once done a give-away, which is rubbish, isn't it? So, for my first give-away (and it's only something small), I'm giving away a £5 gift certificate for Amazon. The give-away will end on 23/08/14 at 12 am. As I said, it'll only be a little one, but fingers crossed!

It's pretty simple. Enter, follow the instructions, and I wish you luck! 

For all of your support and the friendships that I had no idea I'd make, thank you!

Becca xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Making you talk about settings in books.

To kick off my newest feature on Becca's Books, Make You Talk Tuesday, I chose to discuss settings in books.

The lovely Marie who tweets @marieteapot22 talked to me about what makes her perfect settings when reading, and her favourite places for a story to be set. Here's what we said...

The Interview

B ~ Marie, I just want to say a huge thank you for agreeing to take part in Make You Talk Tuesday. Today, I want to discuss the settings of books with you. So first, where are some of your favourite places for stories to be set in? 

M ~ You're very welcome, glad to take part in Make You Talk Tuesday. I think some of my favourite places for books to be set in I would have to say somewhere like Italy only because I want to go there one day myself. Another place I like books to be set in is Cornwall because well it really draws me in and takes me right to that place! Which is what me as a reader wants! 

B ~ I have to agree with you, I absolutely love Italy! It's such a gorgeous, romantic place to set a story, especially a summer romance! What are some of the things that HAVE to be included by the author when describing the settings of their story do you think? 

M ~ I think that the author has to include and draw on all of our senses when describing the setting which in turn puts the reader there so to speak! Also making us, the reader, included while we read. 

B ~ Yes, brilliant point. I love it when you feel as if you're there, and you can smell and taste and see. It makes it all seem so much more real. How do you feel about the setting of New York? Does that work for you? 

M ~ Well New York for me is a setting that is full of excitement with it being such a busy place and all. I especially enjoyed Sophie Kinsella's book Shopaholic Abroad which was set there. 

B ~ Oh, that's one of the Shopaholic books that I haven't had the pleasure of reading, but definitely plan to. Could you tell me some of your favourite books that aren't set in the UK? 

M ~ My first favourite book that is set abroad would have to be Chocolat by Joanne Harris which is set in France. It's so beautifully written that you are transported there!
My second choice is On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves. This is set in the Maldives and is a fab book to read in the summer, I couldn't put it down!

B ~ They both sound gorgeous! So, what about settings that you're not too keen on? 

M ~ I must say as a book lover I am up for reading books that are set anywhere! 

B ~ Oh, brilliant! So, if you were to write a book, where would you choose to set it? 

M ~ As it happens, I am giving it a go! I've chose to set it in the Caribbean, a.) because I would love to visit there and b.) because I am a sucker for a palm tree, breach and sun!! 

B ~ Argh! Really?! How exciting! Can you tell us more? 

M ~ Well it's about a woman who is a CEO of a women's magazine and is a workaholic. She never takes time off for herself, she doesn't trust men due to being hurt by her first love. Her best friend persuades her to go to this private island in the Caribbean that has been turned into a luxury holiday place, where your every need is catered for. First of all, she struggles to be away from from her work life, but eventually begins to relax. A few funny things happen to her and then she bumps into someone she never expects to be there! I haven't quite figured out the ending yet!

B ~ Marie, that sounds brilliant! I love the idea of the Caribbean, that's my idea of a perfect holiday, without a doubt. Are there any authors who you think are exceptionally well at bringing their settings to life? 

M ~ I think Jill Mansell is a perfect example of bringing her settings to life. I haven't read one of her books that has made me not feel like it's brought to life. I really enjoy her writing style and humour. 

B ~ Jill Mansell is one of my all time favourite authors! She's just so romantic. I fall in love with her stories so easily. Do you think that books that are set at home and not abroad somewhere on holiday have the same effect on us as readers? 

M ~ That's a good question! I think that they don't have the same effect on us as the reader. Books that are set a home for me feel more comfy like a snuggly pair of slippers! And books that are set abroad make me feel excited that I am experiencing a different place and culture! 

B ~ Totally agree with you there, Marie. Well, I think we've had a good chat, but I have one more question for you! What would be your perfect holiday? Describe it to me!

M ~ My dream holiday would be to Australia. I would check out the beaches first to do some sun bathing (with a good book of course!!!), and then I'd want to explore the country and cultures there!

B ~ Ahh, that sounds perfect! I think I will join you! ;) It has been an absolute pleasure chatting with you Marie, and thank you again for taking part! 

M ~ You're very welcome my sweet, been lovely chatting to you too!  

Bad Bridesmaid by Portia Macintosh

If you haven't worked it out by now, I'm just really good at faking it. 

Title - Bad Bridesmaid
Author - Portia Macintosh
Publisher - Carina (Harlequin UK)
Publication Date - August 22nd 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via Netgalley)

The blurb

'My wedding is ruined and my marriage is going to fail. And it's all your fault!'

LA romcom writer Mia Valentina has it all; money, success, a tanned and toned body, golden blonde hair and a string of sexy lovers. She's almost forgotten her previous self: plain old Mia Harrison. Until a wedding invitation arrives and requesting (demanding!) her presence as chief bridesmaid at her younger sister Belle's upcoming nuptials. 

Mia's barely been back in England before she's accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally 'cursed' the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister's soon to be brother-in-law! 

With the wedding of the year going dangerously off the rails, Mia has no time to waste - especially with sexy fireman and best man Leo on hand to help... Will she use all of her expert romance knowledge to save the day or will she just walk away? No one ever said a bad girl had to turn good...

Becca's thoughts


Firstly, a huge thank you to Portia Macintosh for inviting me to read her newest title Bad Bridesmaid. I was over the moon when I saw the email from Portia sitting in my inbox, and felt honoured that she had taken the time to get in touch with me and personally ask me if I wanted to read it. Hell to the bloody yes I wanted to read it, and I am OVER THE MOON that I did, because readers, let me tell you, this is THE funniest, naughtiest, and at times cringiest (made-up word) book that I have read this year. I was laughing. I was snorting. I was shaking my head. I was scrunching my face up. It was just EVERYTHING that I hoped it would be, and then so much more. Seriously, Portia, I cannot rate Bad Bridesmaid enough. *Cue the rambling review where I make no sense whatsoever*

In Bad Bridesmaid, we meet Mia Valentina. Living in a swanky pad in LA, and a script-writer for rom-com movies, she has it all. The money. The looks. Her life is pretty much perfect, until she is invited back to England for her younger sister Belle's wedding. She may write some of the most romantic moments for the big screen, but Mia is so not into romance and love and relationships, it's not even funny. She doesn't believe in love at first sight, she doesn't believe in settling down and having children, and she cannot believe that her younger sister is choosing to do just that. Love? No thank you. 

Cut short, because I just really want to get to the part where I go on and on about how much I loved Bad Bridesmaid, Mia heads back to England to attend the wedding of the year, but from the minute she steps off the train and is greeted by her sister and her sister's husband-to-be, things begin to very swiftly go downhill. No, in fact, they begin to ROCKET downhill. And it is, without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable plots that I have had the pleasure of reading. 

Firstly, the humour. MY GOD. Out of all of the books that I have read (and that's a lot), I do not think that I have found an author that can really make me laugh the way Portia did with Bad Bridesmaid. I'm not talking about a little titter here and there, I am talking about full-on, tears in the eyes, laughing so hard that my stomach began to hurt kind of laughter. Mia's character has the exact same sense of humour as me. It's sarcastic, sometimes inappropriate, and left to fall flat a lot of the time, but I swear to God, I was sobbing into my pillow at 2 o'clock in the morning because it was that funny. It's not just Mia's character that got to me, it was the entire scenario. Let me paint the image. Mia hasn't always been a glamorous, hot young woman. In fact, before she moved away to LA, she was fat and boring, and her younger sister Belle grabbed all of the attention, and she still does to this day. When Mia moved away, she decided to recreate herself. She lost weight. She ate healthy. She dyed her hair. And basically readers, she became 100% HOT. Mia's family all seem to have a problem with her, and when things begin to go terribly wrong in the lead-up to the big day, all blame is thrown in poor Mia's direction. Everything, and I mean everything, is blamed on her. The things that Mia came out with, the things that she did, I just couldn't believe it, and therefore, I laughed, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop. It's also Portia's writing style. It's just immense! She is out-there, and genuine, and straight to the point, and it added heaps to Mia's character. There were scenarios where I could just imagine the scene perfectly in my head. For example, girls. If you have long hair, then you can probably agree with me that sometimes, going to the hairdressers for a simple cut can turn into an absolute nightmare. For Mia Valentina, this is also true. I'm going to just use a tiny extract from the book to show you what I mean by the style and humour used. I'm sure we can all relate. This is Mia's trip to the hair salon. She tells her mother time and time again on the way there that she does not need anything doing to her hair, but her mother insists that Mia goes along with it, just to keep the bride-to-be happy. I was crying. Tears from laughter were streaming down my face at this point. 

'It's a bit... orange,' I say, my manners getting the better of me. What I want to do is hit her over the head with that mirror she's holding and yell: 'you stupid bitch, you've given me clown hair!'

Hahaha, I'm giggling again as I'm reading it back to myself. There are just so many brilliant parts to touch upon in this story! The wedding cake, the groom getting a late-night treat, Mia being a bad-influence, a sex ban, the hen-do, the bridesmaid dress. It really was a fantastically f****d-up ball of wedding madness and I cannot put into words how much I freaking enjoyed it. 

Mia's character herself is not normally someone that I would get along with. Let's face it. She's a b****, she even admits it herself, countless times. She sleeps around, she walks around half-naked most of the time, and she kicks men out of her the bed faster that you can say the word, 'orgasm,' but do you know what? Despite all of that, I could not help but to love the girl. When she first talks about heading home for Belle's wedding, I really didn't get why she was being so damn negative about it, and I wanted to shake her up and force her to smile and be happy, but from the minute she arrived home and her family began to cut into her, that was it. I was on her side completely. You begin to understand why Mia is the way she is, and I couldn't help but sympathise with the girl. She isn't actually all that bad. In fact, she is an absolute barrel of laughs. The things she has to put up, I am totally not surprised that she acts and talks the way that she does. She has one hell of an attitude problem but she pulls it off effortlessly. She's cheeky, flirty, sarcastic, and very, very naughty, and all of that combined made for one hell of a read. 

If that isn't enough to make you want to read Bad Bridesmaid, then let me reel you in a little bit further. In the big beach house that everyone is staying in for the big day, not only including Mia's family, but the groom's family, as well as other family members, there are a number of mischievous wedding guests to be introduced to. Mia's disapproving mother and Gran, Dan's snobbish mother, Belle's friends that once bullied Mia when they were back in school, Mia's aunty and uncle, and her younger cousins too. And how on earth could I forget the absolutely GORGEOUS Leo, who just so happens to be a fireman? Holy hot damn. He was fiiiiiiiiine. He had the body of a God, all muscles and huge biceps, and of course the sizzling chemistry between Leo and Mia just added another layer of fun and naughtiness to entire story.

Readers, I am not kidding you when I say this split my sides. I could not contain the bubbles of laughter that arose almost constantly. My love for the main character was one that I really did not expect to exist, but by the end of it, I wanted to be Mia's best-friend. She drew me into the story of her little sister's wedding and despite the constant bickering and fighting between the two of them, you could tell that there was also love. There are a whole heap of exciting things going on in this story, not just the wedding, but other characters lives are pulled up by the author for you to get a glimpse into. It's fast-paced, it's enjoyable, I just couldn't stop reading. I was dragged into Mia's world and forced to feel everything that she felt. Weddings make a plot fun anyway, but Mia made this wedding a whole lot naughtier, and I just loved watching her sticking her foot in it repeatedly. 

Without a doubt, Bad Bridesmaid by the brilliant Portia Macintosh is receiving FIVE cupcakes from me. I adored everything about it. Mia Valentina, I freaking love you! 



Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman

"Here's a chance to have your own story: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give people a chance to love you for it. Or give them a chance to hate you. That could happen, too." 

Title - Summer at Castle Stone
Author - Lynn Marie Hulsman
Publisher - HarperImpulse
Publication Date - July 24th 2014
Format - eBook (Provided by Netgalley)

The blurb

This summer, lose your heart in Ireland...

Shayla Sheridan's a New York native born into big city luxury, but she's never really fitted in with the "it" crowd. Desperate to make it as a writer and to finally step out from her famous father's shadow, Shayla decides to take on a tricky assignment across the pond...

Swapping skyscrapers and heels for wellies and the heart of the Irish countryside, Shayla must go about ghost-writing a book of recipes by the notoriously reclusive and attractive head chef of Castle Stone, Tom O'Grady. 

The only problem? He has no idea that she's writing it. 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, a great BIG thank you to the publishers for accepting my request to view Summer at Castle Stone by Lynn Marie Hulsman via Netgalley. After one of my lovely bookish friends @reviewedthebook posted that she was reading this on Twitter, I spotted the cover, read the blurb, and just knew that I had to read it too. 

I haven't commented on covers for a while, but I feel like I definitely should when I look at Lynn's cover for Summer at Castle Stone. I don't know what it is, but there is something exciting about a city girl heading off into the countryside and being stranded with no wi-fi. Instantly, I wanted to know how she copes and survives (little bit dramatic on my part). I think the cover depicts the story of Shayla Sheridan perfectly. And of course, Castle Stone can be seen looking magnificent in the background. It's chic, it's feminine, it's girly, and it caught my attention right away. 

The plot itself was brilliant. Shayla was fantastic, a real girl of the city, with her coffees and busy lifestyle, but she's also a writer who's trying to make it big. Her father Hank is famous, and understandably, Shayla is constantly trying to escape from out of his constant shadow. Everywhere she goes, people know who her father is, and I was just as desperate as Shayla for her to make it on her own. So, Shayla takes matters into her own hands and decides that she's going to go undercover to gather a book together, using the very angry and broody Tom O'Grady as her muse. But it's not as simple as it sounds. Tom is refusing to have anything to do with Shayla and her prying New York ways, so Shayla fakes a new name for herself and goes ahead and does it anyway. Ha, girl power! 

Lynn then whisks us away from busy and bustling New York to the lush, rolling green hills of Ireland. The transition between the two settings was like a breath of fresh air. I could almost feel the worries and stresses of Shayla's life slipping away as she stepped off the aeroplane and placed a foot onto the Irish soil. To Shayla, it was as if she was in the middle of nowhere, a completely different atmosphere and way of life to what she's used to. It was just so entertaining, watching Lynn pick up her character and drop her off somewhere new and unknown. Ireland was beautiful and I so wanted to grab a flight and land there myself. 

The plot then remains focused on Shayla and her mission to grab as many recipes and notes from the people of Castle Stone and Chef O'Grady himself, without Tom knowing who she really is, of course. As I was reading, the thought of Shayla being found out really dragged me along, not that I needed to be dragged because it was such an enjoyable read, but that thought just pushed me even further. 

Lynn does a fantastic job of bring Castle Stone and it's many fabulous characters to life. It was like a community within itself. I really didn't know how Shayla managed to stay undercover, because I would have given up right away, but she perseveres and sticks to what she needs to do. The desperation for Shayla to finish and complete the book is highlighted to the reader, and I was cheering her on too. 

Tom' O'Grady was one of those fictional men that you would love to crack down and really get inside of. He kept himself quite hidden away from Shayla, which was a bit of nuisance when she needed to do research, but due to a nasty past of invasion of privacy, Tom really isn't taking any chances, and that's understandable. He doesn't joke, laugh or smile for that matter. He's stone-cold, and ladies, why is that so DAMN attractive?! Moody and broody is Tom O'Grady's style and he was completely swoon-worthy. 

The plot was smooth and I loved it. The characters, the gorgeous setting of Ireland, the determination to succeed behind Shayla Sheridan. It was a fabulous read and Castle Stone was just magical. Lynn did a brilliant job of creating this story, and I really, really enjoyed it! 



You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

If only falling out of love was as easy as falling in it.

Title - You're the One That I Want
Author - Giovanna Fletcher
Publisher - Penguin 
Publication Date - May 22nd 2014
Format - Paperback (Self-purchased)
Pages - 372

The blurb

Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob - the man she's about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben - best man and the best friend any two people ever had. 

And that's the problem. 

Because if it wasn't Rob waiting for her at the altar, there's a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right? 

Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it...

Becca's thoughts

I think this is going to be the first time in absolutely ages where I don't begin my review by thanking the publishers for my review copy. As much as I love them, there is nothing that can satisfy me quite like the purchasing of a new book. The feel of it in your hands, the smoothness of the cover that's brand-spanking new. Of course, if you're a book-lover like me, you'll understand what I'm talking about. 

This book is ridiculously sweet. And I mean, ridiculously RIDICULOUSLY sweet. After starting off the book by having Maddy stand at the end of the aisle and make her way down towards Robert, Giovanna takes us right back in time to the very first day that Maddy, Ben and Robert met, during school. There's an instant connection between the three of them, and with them all being so young and innocent, it really made me feel that wonderful freedom of being a child once more. There was no worrying about what others would think, it was just pure fresh friendship, only just beginning, and I loved it. I think experiencing their friendship blossoming from that far back in time really grabs you and gets you involved with their story. I felt like I knew them all incredibly well, and by the end of the book, it was as if I had lived the entire story right beside them. 

Giovanna chose to set out the story in an entertaining and interesting way. Not only does she start off the story in the present day at Maddy and Robert's wedding, but she goes back time. And every now and again, there's a small section of Robert's wedding speech added in there, which I guess kinda' separated the different parts of the book. It also allowed us to have a small glimpse into Robert's point of view too, because you only really get to read from Maddy's and Ben's point of view during the actual book. The story progresses by age, so at the beginning of each chapter, Giovanna lets you know how old Ben and Maddy are before you continue to read. I loved all these little aspects of the book. Giovanna added so much personality to her characters, and to the story itself. It just seemed so believable and I couldn't help but to get sucked in. I cared deeply for the characters and was genuinely concerned about where the story was going to take them all. At times it was beautiful, at others it was heart-breaking, and I can only really describe the remainder as being bitter-sweet. Gorgeous but equally painful.

I raced through this book because I couldn't wait to see what happened at the end. Giovanna hooks you in right from the start, and I'm a sucker for books that begin with a wedding, so I loved it instantly. And of course, an unsure bride makes for an interesting read, does it not? I adored being able to follow Maddy, Ben and Robert through the major parts of their lives, from heading off to university to moving out and living in their own places. It was wonderful watching the transition from childhood to teenhood to adulthood. Giovanna really nailed the whole thing, and I couldn't believe how sucked in I felt. I became a little bit devoted to the characters, and was clutching the book insanely during some parts. It's a real up-and-down read that really gets your emotions all tangled up. It was absolutely BRILLIANT.

To me, this was like stepping back in time to when I was a little girl. Remembering my school days and then of course being a teenager, and those first little sparks of attraction. It was exciting and passionate and just such a joy to read. It gets right underneath your skin and scratches at your ribcage, and of course, inevitably, it gets to the very centre of your heart. When I finished the book, I turned it over in my hands, looked down at it, and realised that I was leaving the characters behind. It was a sad moment, but once you reach it, you'll take a deep breath and smile, because I honestly felt like I had lived another life. 

This book is perfect for chick-lit lovers, romance readers and all the other readers in-between. It will reach out, grab you, and pull you into the pages, allowing you to become completely and utterly involved in the story that takes place between the pages. Beautiful, moving and devastatingly bitter-sweet. A love triangle that will wrap you up and squeeze you extra-extra-tight. I loved it. Adored it. And I would recommend You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher to absolutely everybody. 

Becca's Books is giving this fabulously written story five gorgeous cupcakes. I think Giovanna has achieved the telling of this tale perfectly. I wanted to continue reading about the characters after I closed the book, and I sat there for ages trying to imagine how the story would have continued. Major congratulations to Giovanna Fletcher for this amazing story. Just BEAUTIFUL.