On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

"Sometimes words aren't needed for you to know a change has come upon you." 


The blurb

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare . . .

Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well - until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. 

Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he's determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. 

But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realises that Braden  won't be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her . . . down to the very soul. 

Becca's thoughts

Oh my freaking good god. I had no idea how much I was missing out on. So many people have been speaking about this book for so long, I should have took a hint sooner. Thanks to my very good book-blogger friend Erin, after much persuading, I finally decided to purchase the book that everybody is going wild about, and DAYUUUUM, I am so so soooo glad that I did. 

I purchased On Dublin Street from Amazon UK and enjoyed it in eBook format on my beloved Kindle (which is dying slowly, boohoo) On Dublin Street is the first book that I have read by the very talented Samantha Young, but I can assure you, I will be investing in every single thing she has ever created because she is one hell of an author, and yes, I found that out by reading just one book. Cray'. 

One thing that I have discovered since owning a Kindle is that you don't get to see the cover for yourself. It's sad. Very sad. Because I LOVE looking at book covers. Luckily, the internet allows me to have a look and although it's not the same, it's better than nothing. To me, the cover depicts everything about this novel. The woman on the cover is the perfect imitation of the main character, Jocelyn. The way the woman is posing makes me think of how Jocelyn is quite secretive about her life, and doesn't like to trust in people too openly. Also, she's alone, and a lot of the time in the story, Jocelyn tends to feel alone. The cover is perfect, and couldn't be any more spot on. 

Now for the title. It's pretty simple, nothing ambiguous about it. On Dublin Street is where it all begins, and why not name the novel the place where the story unravels? It's straight to the point, no messing around and sets the scene before you've even started. I'm not a very geographical person, so obviously I googled it and had a look around on Google maps. Seeing a real place that's in a story makes me feel all mushy inside. 

The characters are probably now my favorite bunch of fictional characters in the world. Although there are lots of characters included, I'm going to focus on my four main ones which are Joss (Jocelyn), Ellie, Braden and Adam. Let's talk about Joss first. 

Joss has had a disturbing past, one that could fuck up anyone's outlook on life. She lost her mother, father and younger sister Elizabeth in a car accident, and now, she is too scared, petrified even, to let anybody into her life, for fear of losing them again. I loved Joss. I guess the way she dealt with it all seemed the easiest way, but it really puts a strain on creating new friendships and relationships in the present. After the accident, Joss spent her childhood going to foster families and living in care homes, which is a tragic thing for any child/teenager to have to go through. What I also loved about Joss was the fact that she wasn't this iddy biddy thin, model-like woman. She's curvy, she has D sized boobs and she has an attitude to go with it all. After her parents died, Joss was left with a hefty inheritance. When we first meet her she's about to go to Dublin Street in a cab to view an apartment. Instead of spending the money on crap, she's spending it on something worthwhile. As she is about to grab a cab, she lays eyes on Braden for the first time, and this my friends, is where everything begins...

Braden. Braden. Braden. What to say about Braden. Even his name is drenched with sexiness. Braden freakin' Carmichael. When Joss first bumps into him, she refers to him as 'The Suit', because that's what he's dressed in. A sexy, sexy suit. Okay. I'll stop now. Braden Carmichael is a hunk. A controlling, possessive, used-to-getting-what-he-wants hunk. He's cheeky, he smirks a lot, he's demanding and he likes to order his bedroom mate around. Hell yes. Braden wants Joss. Joss wants Braden. The chemistry between these two characters is off the damn hook. Any eye contact they make, if they touch accidentally, EVERY SINGLE type of contact ends with Braden giving her "the look". We all know what that look is. It's the "get to the fucking bedroom now" look. The build-up between these too is mental. I just wanted them to have sex and get it over with because if they didn't I was afraid my Kindle was going to explode. With Joss being so afraid to let anyone in, it kinda gets in the way, but trust me, when it all falls together it is so, so worth it. Braden is my new favorite book boyfriend. After Mr Grey of course. But he's definitely right up there on the list. As much as I could go on about his DAMN SEXINESS, I need to show you his other side. The "boy" side. He's all man most of the time, but every now and then, you get a glimpse of his mushy side. He likes to spoon, he cares about his family deeply and he's extremely protective over his loved ones. He's actually everything a woman could want, confident, cheeky, sexy, intimidating but in a hot way... Honestly the list could go on. Seriously ladies, if you haven't already, then I suggest you meet Braden. You have no idea what you're missing out on. 

Ellie is Joss' new housemate. She also turns out to be Braden's younger sister. Ellie is the most adorable female in the world. She loves Joss completely, and they become friends quite quickly, to Joss' astonishment. Ellie has been crushing on Braden's friend Adam for a long time. She has to sit through his countless dates whilst biting her tongue. Let me rephrase that. She LOVES Adam. When tragedy strikes later on in the story, we soon find out how much. I think when Ellie and Joss first meet each other, Joss isn't quite sure of her. She doesn't want to let anyone in for fear of losing them, so why should she left Ellie in? Their bond becomes stronger though, and soon it's like they have always known each other. 

To be completely honest with you readers, the only thing I can think of to say, is READ this book. It's emotional, it's sexy, it's exciting, it's everything that a book should be. 

I'm rating On Dublin Street 10/10. 
EXTRAORDINARY STORY WITH BEAUTIFUL CHARACTERS. 








Sex Love Repeat by Alessandra Torre

"His voice should never be heard in tandem with Paul's, their presences should never be intersected, much least raised in tandem in what sounds to be an argument."





The blurb 

I love two men. I screw two men. I am in a relationship with them both, and they are both aware there is another. That is all that they need to know, that is all that I let them know. They don't need to know a name; they don't need to know anything, but that they are not alone in my heart. 

They have accepted the situation. Stewart, because his life is too busy for the sort of obligations that are required in a relationship. Paul, because he loves me too much to tell me no. And because my sexual appetite is such that one man has trouble keeping up. 

So we exist, two parallel relationships, each running their own course, with no need for intersection or conflict. It works for us, for them, and for me. I don't expect it to be a long-term situation. I know there is an expiration date on the easy perfection of our lives. 

I should have paid more attention, should have looked around and noticed the woman who watched it all. She sat in the background and waited, tried to figure me out. Saw my two relationships, the love between us, and the moment that it all fell apart. 

She hates me. 
I don't even know she exists. 
She loves them. I love them. 
And they love me. 

Everything else hangs in the balance. 

Becca's thoughts

I received Sex Love Repeat by Alessandra Torre as a free copy via Net Galley for an honest review.
I read it on my Kindle and I loved it. Like seriously loved it. 

So firstly, from the blurb, you get that Madison is in love with two guys, Stewart and Paul. My first reaction to this went along the lines of, "Oh no. This is going to be one of those kinky, crazy stories involving threesomes and orgies..." 
Nope. It's nothing like that, and you kinda realise it once you get to the ending of the blurb, and you're told about this "other woman". Just listen to me okay? It is NOT what you think. The story line in Sex Love Repeat is completely and utterly insane, and I sat in a state of shock once the twist was revealed to me. I remained in this state of shock until it came to an end. It is THAT good. 

Sex Love Repeat is written in first person, and we get to hear everything from Madison's point of view the majority of the time. But what I loved, and I mean REALLY LOVED was how small parts pop up in the story where we get a glimpse from one of the men's point of views, and also the other woman's. (Again, believe me, it is NOT what you think! I repeat, it is NOT what you think) It makes the story so enjoyable and there's nothing better than getting a sneaky peek into the weird and wonderful mind of a male, right ladies? ;)

Madison was a great character. Not going to lie, when I first started it I became judgmental and automatically assumed she was a cheating little s***, which was incredibly wrong of me to do. There is so much depth and reason to Madison, and until you read on and learn about her circumstances and what actually happens to get her into the position that she's in, you'll probably think the same too. Madison is a sex-a-holic. She loves it. She doesn't understand how society can frown upon a woman who loves sex. She lost her virginity at an incredibly young age and she describes her first sexual encounter by telling the reader, "It was the best forty-two seconds of my life thus far." Madison had an amazing childhood, surrounded by mansions, Dior and Versace. She was, in a sense, a spoiled brat, until her father killed himself and then everything went downhill from there. She was dropped into normality. Her luxuries came to an end, and she was left with no choice but to live a normal, regular life. Once the story really gets going, you finally realise that Madison isn't really that bad of a person. She's down-to-earth, does normal everyday things. The only thing that really makes her any different is that she is in love with two men. But if you sit down and really think about it, there's got to be more than one woman in the world who has loved two men, so it's not really all that shocking. 

The first guy that I want to introduce you to is Stewart. Stewart is a work-a-holic AS WELL AS a sex-a-holic. He loves to fuck and he loves to work. Working is in his blood, it's constantly on his mind and he doesn't have time for all of the things that a relationship entails, like long walks, spooning and going on holidays. Madison loves Stewart for this side of her double relationship. There's nothing that's very "loving" about how he has sex with Madison. For example -

"His brand of fucking is relentless, strong fucks in which he devours my body without restraint. It is what I have come here for, it is what I want. I need the domination, the edge of insanity that he barely holds in check."

He's rough, he likes to be in control and he is bossy. He comes from the same genre of men as Mr Christian Grey so you can kinda get a feel for him from that. The crazy thing is, Madison knew when they first got involved with each other that she would always come second best to his career. She knew there would be no "relationshippy" things between them. It was sex. Hard, rough sex. And that's the way she likes it. 

Paul is in a completely different league to Stewart. He's a surfer, always relaxed, carefree and enjoys life. Paul and Madison live together, and they do do the "relationshippy" things. I love how they met, queuing for a roller coaster at the Santa Monica pier, and it just stemmed from there. There was chemistry fizzling between them both and they end up being seated next to each on the ride. I'll leave the next part to your imagination. They come home to each other, eat their dinner together and lie in each other's arms. Of course they have sex but it's not as brutal as it is with Stewart. It's loving, and Madison knows there's a difference between the two. 

The two men that Madison is in love with are completely different. The way they act, the way they have sex, the way they look at life. Throughout the story, Madison continuously says that she knows this "thing" is a time-bomb, that one day something will happen and the perfection will all come to an end. All that I can say to that is you will just have to read it and find out for yourself. 

This book had me completely enthralled. Every inch of it was dripping with curiosity and excitement. With such an usual plot-twist, it really does blow you away. It's best for you to be at least 18+ if you're planning to read this. There's a lot of dirty scenes, and it's very visual. It's just so different, something that I have never read about in a book before, and I really, really want to share it with my fellow readers. I can honestly say, you will LOVE it, and I hope just as much as I did. Insane, crazy, it really blows your head off. 

Alessandra Torre, what a creation. I can't give Sex Love Repeat a high enough rating, so I'm going with an incredibly worthy 10/10. 

To find out some more about Alessandra Torre, read my interview with her by clicking below!


Sex Love Repeat will be made available on December 1st, 2013. 
Buying links will be added at a further date. 



   













Author Interview - Alessandra Torre on Sex Love Repeat

After reading Sex Love Repeat, I just HAD to find some things out about the incredible author that is Alessandra Torre. I was lucky enough to ask her ten questions, and I loved her answers! Here they are book lovers!


(Alessandra Torre - Author of Sex Love Repeat)


1.) Where did you get the idea for Sex Love Repeat from? 

I have always been fascinated by people who lead double lives. This book explored a woman who has two separate romances at the same time, but without cheating or lies. I wanted to know if this was a viable possibility, and where a dual romance like that would go. 




2.) Have you always wanted to write in the Romance/Erotica genre? If so, why? And if not, what changed your mind? 

I have never been a romance or erotica reader. The only erotica I read was little paperbacks I'd pick up at sex shops. I've always read thrillers and suspense books. So it was really odd that, when I sat down to write my first book (Blindfolded Innocence) - out popped an erotic romance. I moved back to my roots with my second book, The Girl in 6E, but have developed a fondness for romance. I will stay in the erotic romance genre for all long as the ideas keep flowing. 

3.) Are any of your characters based on real people? 


I, throughout writing this book, had Blake Lively in my head as Madison. I think that's because of the movie Savages, and how she seamlessly carried on a relationship with two men in that movie. The only characters I have ever based on real people would be the couple in Blindfolded Innocence. That is definitely based on me and my husband, and our relationship dynamic, which is based on a lot of wit and connection.




4.) You are amazingly good at writing your sex scenes! Is there anything you do to help you write them so well? What tips would you give to other hopeful Romance/Erotica writers?  

That is so kind of you! Hmm…. How to write hot sex. I have trouble writing a scene in which the scenario doesn't personally turn me on. So I probably won't ever write about anal sex, or double penetration, or heavy bdsm. I think the most important thing is to imagine yourself in the situation, and how you would want the man to touch, fuck, and talk to you. Every woman is different, so you will never be able to touch every reader. But I think its important to throw caution to the wind and run full force into your fantasies. Even if it means the neighbors now cross the road to avoid conversation. :)


5.) I've read that you initially self-published your first novel, 'Blindfolded Innocence'. How did it feel sharing your creation with the world? Were you nervous? 


I went into self-publishing blind, so I really didn't know enough to be nervous! I honestly had very low expectations. I wrote Blindfolded in 6 weeks, spent about 2 weeks cleaning it up, and then stuck it on Kindle. I think I had three sales the first day, which all turned out to be my husband, logging on through his work and personal accounts, and buying the book so that I would feel special. NO ONE, and I mean no one, other than the two of us, were aware of the book. I had no idea of how it would be received, had no idea if it was incredible, horrible, or boring as hell. When my first review hit Amazon and a stranger said that they loved it, it was a really great moment. They also mentioned that I had no website, no Goodreads or Facebook page, and they had no idea how to find out more about me. That kicked us into gear and I started creating a brand at that time. My nerves came later, when family and friends started to find out about the book, and it really started to gain traction. 




6.) Have you ever been in the position that your main character Madison was in? Loving two guys at the same time? 

Thank God, no. The closest I came to that was in high school, where'd I'd have 'crushes' on two guys at once, neither of which had any interest whatsoever in my scrawny ass. Thankfully, for me — once I met my husband, it changed the way I looked at any other man. No one else could come close. 

7.) Have you always wanted to be a writer, or did you have other plans? 

I never ever expected to be a writer. I would never have gone through the traditional process of sending a manuscript out and being rejected a hundred times. I always LOVED to read, but never saw a viable career in that. I always thought I'd work in hotels or possibly web design. 

8.) I read on your bio that you love watching movies! Any particular favourites?  

Wow. Tough question. I love:

-Forgetting Sarah Marshall
-Paul
-Transformers
-Django UnChained




9.) What's your ultimate dream? 


To be a New York Times Bestselling Author, and to have one of my books made into a movie. 





10.) Last but not least, if you could bring one of your characters to life from Sex Love Repeat, who would it be and why? 

Dana. Paul or Stewart would be too tempting for me, and Madison is so perfect I'd want to throttle her. Dana and I could drink tequila and discuss penis sizes and pet peeves. 

Thanks for these great questions, I had a fabulous time with them!!

                            

Author Bio:
Alessandra Torre is a author who focuses on contemporary erotica. Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, was published in July 2012, and was an Erotica #1 Bestseller for two weeks. Alessandra lives on the beach in Florida and is married, with one young child. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and playing with her dogs. Her favorite authors include Lisa Gardner, Gillian Flynn, and Jennifer Crusie. Learn more about Alessandra on her website at www.alessandratorre.com.

Author Links: 
Email her at alessandratorre4@gmail.com
 * Like her on facebook
 * Follow her on twitter
 * Fan her at www.goodreads.com/AlessandraTorre
 * Follow her on pinterest

You can also click here to read my review on Sex Love Repeat. 
Thanks again Alessandra! 
xxx






Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

"Merry Christmas. Look at the stars tonight and remember me."




The blurb

Tis' the season for love and second chances...

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge first: Carrie must score the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author. 

Living in Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a bestselling book about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone, and no one even knows exactly where he lives. With her career at stake, Carrie sacrifices her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she expected. And soon Carrie is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart. 

Becca's thoughts

This is my first full Christmas story that I have read in 2013 and it has gotten me right in the mood for Christmas! I'm even listening to Christmas songs as I'm writing this post. Crazy huh? ;)

The cover for Debbie Macomber's Starry Night is absolutely gorgeous. It just looks so cosy and warm in that little log cabin, out in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. There is not one single thing about this cover that doesn't scream CHRISTMAS at you. If you're looking for a lovely, romantic Christmas read this year, then Starry Night would be the perfect choice. 

We meet Carrie first. She's bored of writing the same old stories, attending the same old social events and wearing the same old painful heels to look the part. What she actually wants to be doing is writing BIG stories, about real people and real lives. So when her managing editor Nash makes a deal of a lifetime with her, Carrie feels that she would be crazy to say no. She is ambitious, a real go-getter and she knows she has more to offer her company than attending the repetitive social gatherings that she is assigned to. Carrie's career is extremely important to her too, and this is revealed when she changes her plans of going home for Thanksgiving to find the almost invisible Finn Dalton instead. She's desperate for a break, and so she's willing to do anything to move forward with her career. 

Finn Dalton is the man every reporter is trying to find and have an interview with. After publishing his amazingly popular and bestselling book Alone, Finn has managed to remain out of sight in his small cabin somewhere in the snowy Alaskan wilderness. Finn is a beast of a man, with dark eyes and a dark bushy beard that practically covers his entire face. He's content with his life; sitting by the fire with his dog Hennessey and drinking hot cups of coffee. He's pretty sure he has everything he needs... until of course, Carrie Slayton decides to walk into his life. Finn has a pretty messed up relationship with his mother, convinced that she can't have loved him after she walked away from him and his father when he was just a boy. Since then, he hasn't taken a liking to the female race, deciding that he can't trust a single one of them. When Carrie arrives and is holed up in his cabin with him as a snowstorm howls around them, he realizes how attractive she actually is. 

Being shut up together in the lonely cabin in the woods, how could sparks not begin to fly between them. Finn isn't looking for a woman, and Carrie just wants her interview. 

To tell you the truth, I could see what was coming. It was kinda hard not to, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the story immensely. Even though I knew what was coming, it was a fun read, and very entertaining. It's hard not to feel festive when the setting of Alaska is set so perfectly. The snowstorms, the frozen lake, the log fire burning away in Finn's cabin. It really was beautiful. 

The characters were complete opposites of each other, but you know what they say, opposites attract. And damn did they! Carrie, the smart, business-like woman, with her laptop and phone and high-heeled shoes. And then Finn, with his rugged appearance, making stews and acting quite rudely towards her, only to stop his feelings from growing even stronger. The attraction between them both is evident from the beginning. Carrie doesn't quite know why, but there's something about this cave-man like male, who is so in touch with the earth and the land around him, that she finds him extremely intriguing. I guess it's a refreshing change from all those clean-cut, suit and tie wearing men that she's used to from the city. Whatever the reason, it's adorable watching the flame grow into something more than lust between them. 

I really liked both of the characters, and I even found myself becoming a little bit intrigued by Finn and really hoped he would let himself go and show the reader what's really beneath the cold, rude exterior. 

This was a lovely, warm Christmassy read that is the perfect book to cuddle up with next to a roaring fire with a hot chocolate! I'm giving Debbie Macomber's Starry Night  a 7/10 rating! I'd recommend this to anyone that's feeling ready and willing to dive into the ultimate Christmas spirit!






The Time Until by Casey Ford

"My mom says everyone needs someone. Well, you're mine. Now you need me."


The blurb

Alan Green and Samantha Cohn have known each other for as long as both can remember. They have a special relationship that has grown far beyond mere friendship.Inseparable, Al and Sam have spent their lives with one another—from childhood secrets, through awkward teenage years, to finding themselves as adults—it’s always been the two of them together.
When unexpected tragedy hits, and Sam is left fighting for her life, Alan can only watch and wait. Left alone without his best friend, Alan spends his time reliving his past, ensnared in the memories of the chaotic relationship with the girl that stole his heart.
How would you spend the time until?
Becca's thoughts

I just need to put this out there. This is the most emotional book I have read in a long time, and I mean it. I was an emotional mess whilst reading The Time Until and Casey Ford deserves nothing but the highest praise for this amazing story. Love, friendship and tragedy, this is the story that will make you hold your loved ones tighter, because you just don't know what is around the corner. 

The Time Until is given to the reader in first person, all from Alan's point of view, which I absolutely LOVED because I rarely read a book that is written from a male perspective. It's not that I don't choose to, it's because there's a lot more women writers in this genre than men. Reading from Alan's point of view was a refreshing change and really added to how much I enjoyed the story. 

The structure of The Time Until was out of this world. Casey Ford jumps back and forth between the present and the past, letting the reader in on all of the details from Alan and Samantha's past, starting right back when they first meet in Kindergarten, at the tender age of only five years old. This carries on as the story progresses and it has a beautiful effect, allowing us to begin right at the beginning with them. 

The characters in The Time Until are exceptional. 
Alan Green is the main character and through Alan the reader is able to relive all of his memories and feel his emotions with him. Alan seemed like a very sensitive guy. He cares about Samantha deeply and they have such a beautiful connection with each other. Alan decides that he is love with Samantha from an early age, and I was wondering whether it would eventually wear off, but it doesn't. No matter what happens, Sam is ALWAYS Alan's first priority, and no one is able to get in the way of the overwhelming love that lies between them. 

Samantha is a vibrant, energetic care-free girl/woman. From the moment they meet, Samantha takes charge and Alan follows her lead. 

"I got it" she announces, her face brightening up slightly as if she just thought of something really good. "My name's Sam and from now on you're mine."

Once their friendship begins, there is no parting them, even though both of their parents do try. Sam endearingly refers to Alan as a "pansy", but Alan doesn't really mind. He loves having Sam around, and it doesn't change as they get older. With their bond blossoming from such a young age, it is just so incredibly strong, there are no words to even describe it. 

Casey Ford really sets the tone in the story, making it sombre, emotional and incredibly grim. There's a lot of nostalgia too, as Alan constantly looks back to his past, bringing up old memories of himself and Sam in better times. The whole story just plays with your emotions, taking you to a place of happiness and then dropping you back into the present, which is depressing and grey.

I'm giving the unforgettable The Time Until a well deserved 10/10 rating. This book is honestly something else, and I advise everyone to read it. Not only is it a beautiful story, but it's incredibly thought provoking too. As I said at the beginning, it makes you want to grab all of your loved ones, hold tight and never let go. HUGE high five to Casey Ford, what an amazing story. 

If you would like to know more about the author, I have been able to include his bio too!

Author Bio

I like to write and love just about anything romance [Except triangles, I hate triangles.... Oh! And Squares! They're the worst].
Anyway, I live with my wife and two kids in good ole U.S.of A. and I actually work full time as a Graphic Designer. I write to relieve stress and because I like to create stories.
The Time Until is my first book and it's both a joy and a chore to write.
Buying links!
Kindle
Paperback 









Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

"When the thing that was going to change my life arrived, it didn't look anything like I'd expected". 


The blurb

Nell Sullivan has always been known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan'. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances. 

Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of a lifetime to a place where anything's possible - San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max Rossi. Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell's second home. 

But when it's time to return to London, will she leave the 'new Nell' behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away? 

Becca's thoughts


First thing's first, the cover. I hate to admit it, and I know the old saying goes, "You should never judge a book by it's cover", but sometimes you just can't help it. The cover of Miranda Dickinson's fifth novel is absolutely beautiful. It shows an independent woman, doing her own thing, making her way through San Francisco. Not bad at all. I love the image of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, which plays a big part in the later stages of the book. It also represents San Francisco; the place where Nell Sullivan makes things happen. 

Take a Look at Me Now is given to us in first person, from the very lovable Nell Sullivan's point of view. My edition was paperback, and was purchased from Asda. A brilliant 390 pages long, full of adventure, magic and excitement. 

Nell Sullivan sits down to her computer at work one morning to find a green post-it note stuck to her computer screen. Seeing that it's from Aidan Matthews, her on-off lover for the past 5 years and also her Line Manager, Nell begins imagining that maybe this is it, Aidan is going to declare his undying love for her, and their rocky road of a relationship is going to be a thing of the past. Turns out, Nell is very wrong. What's actually happening is she is being made redundant and Aidan is the one to break the news to her. Packing up her things, Nell doesn't know what to do. After always being known as 'Miss Five-Year Plan', Nell now doesn't know what's happening next week, never mind in the next five years. Feeling sporadic and slightly outrageous, she heads into a travel agents, and books a flight to San Francisco, where her cousin Lizzie lives. She plans to stay for 8 weeks, getting the most out of the experience before she returns to miserable London to the dreariness of job hunting and worrying about what she's going to do. The night before her flight leaves, Nell is lying in bed, pondering about the next 8 weeks of her life. 

"This is it Nell Sullivan, I told myself. Tomorrow my adventure begins."  

To me, jetting off to San Francisco is the ultimate adventure, and Miranda brings each and every detail to life in Take a Look at Me Now. The character of Nell Sullivan really put everything into perspective. Unfortunately, I am also being made redundant at this moment in time, so reading this when I did actually made things a little easier to deal with. I love it when you can connect with the characters, and I haven't read a single book by Miranda Dickinson where I haven't been able to. 

Nell Sullivan is the girl with the plan. She has everything mapped out and she's prepared for what life has to throw at her. Except losing her job. She's funny, she's down to earth and she is incredibly genuine too, which is a fantastic trait for fictional characters to have. The day she loses her job, she also loses Aidan. She gets herself all worked up and excited to be told that he loves her, and then he tells her she is no longer employed. How dreadful is that? No wonder she jumps on a plane and flys away. I would too. Nell is ambitious, and has dreams of her own, safely tucked away. No one knows about them, not even her best friend Vicky. I also found Nell very inspiring to say the least. You don't realise it at the start, but she's a real go-getter. She knows what she wants and how she wants it. She has that drive, that power to keep pushing, and I loved that about her. She's a brilliant woman. I just wanted to be in San Francisco with her. 

Miranda lights up the setting with her descriptions of San Francisco, making it impossible for you not to feel like you're there with Nell. She mentions the "warm Californian sun" and "the glittering cityscape of San Francisco" and it's hard to not fall in love with the place. Throughout the story the setting is constantly spoken about; what the characters can smell and see, what they can hear. It's amazing, and Miranda makes it feel so, so real. You've got to be lying if you say you don't want to go to San Francisco after reading Take a Look at Me Now. 

The mix of characters that Nell meets when she arrives in San Francisco is brill. There's lots of new faces and characters that you're introduced to. There's Nell's cousin, Lizzie. There's Max Rossie. There's the children of the S-O-S club, who are adorable, and there's the old couple, the Alfaros too! You get a real feel of community spirit whilst reading and it's just heartwarming. I didn't want the story to come to and end. 

I'm giving Miranda Dickinson an easy 9/10 for this. A perfect girly chick-lit novel about a woman finding her place in the world, and making her dreams become a reality. It's inspiring, thought-provoking, and it makes you look at your life and think, "I need to do something like this!" 

Buying links for Take a Look at Me Now
UK
Paperback - Take a Look at Me Now
Kindle Edition - Take a Look at Me Now







Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

"I wasn't sure how long we could survive, but I knew I wasn't dying on day one of the fucking zombie apocalypse."


In Jamie Mcguire's outstanding novel Red Hill, we are introduced to a world full of panic, danger and the separation of loved ones. 

Scarlet is the mother of two girls. After the panic rises, Scarlet needs to get to them, and fast. The girl's father, Andrew, is picking them up from school, but other than that, Scarlet has no idea of where they are. 

Nathan has just arrived home to find a note from his wife, Aubrey. She's left not only him, but their young daughter Zoe too. It's now just Nathan and Zoe against the horrors of the world they're now facing. 

Miranda and Ashley are on the way to their father's ranch to stay for the weekend. During their journey towards their destination, people begin acting rather strangely. Families begin leaving their cars in the middle of the highway, and Miranda isn't sure why. With her younger sister Ashley in the back panicking, Miranda needs to stay in control and get them to their father's ranch in one piece. 

Becca's thoughts 

I know, I know. My book blog is all pink, and girly and romantic themed BUT, I do love me some zombies and apocalyptic goings on. 

Red Hill is written in first person, but we're not just limited to getting the thoughts about the apocalypse from one point of view. We're treated to the views of Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda, the three main characters. 

Scarlet is a mother of two daughters, Halle and Jenna. Working at the hospital and taking care of her children pretty much takes up most of her time. With no man in her life, she's pretty much an independent woman, getting things done and taking no crap from nobody. As the story progresses, we get to see how much of a strong woman she really is. Actually, I'm just gonna throw it out there and say she's a kick-ass zombie killer in this book, and there's nothing better than a female taking the lead role. She's feisty, fearless, and when her children are involved, she laughs in the face of danger. She takes control of situations that a normal person would probably lose their wits in. She will do anything for her girls, and that reflects through her actions within the story. I loved Scarlet. How she takes on board the fact that a zombie apocalypse is 
taking place is how I want to be if a zombie apocalypse was to happen.

Nathan is an adorable guy, I have to say it. He works damn hard, and he's married to the most miserable woman in the world. I felt so sorry for him. His confidence is at rock bottom and he's in a loveless marriage. When we meet him, he hears the radio in his car inform it's listeners, "This is a red alert from the emergency broadcast system. Canton County sheriff's department reports a highly contagious virus arriving in our state has been confirmed. If at all possible, stay indoors..." He races to Zoe's school to pick her up. McGuire really enforces the image of disarray and panic when Nathan enters his daughter's school. She tells us of "frantic mothers" and "frightened parents". Once Nathan has his daughter safely in the car with him, he takes them both home, and that's when he finds the note from Aubrey, basically saying that she can't be a mother and that she's left. From that moment on, Nathan does what he has to do to keep him and his daughter safe. But that's a lot easier said than done. 

We're first introduced to Miranda as she's driving towards her father's ranch, along with her younger sister Ashley, Ashley's boyfriend Cooper, and Miranda's boyfriend Bryce. The panic is just reaching where they are at this point; people are running past her car, banging into her wing mirrors and bumping into the side of it. After news of the outbreak reached them, their classes were cancelled and they decided their dad's ranch was the safest place for them to go. As a person is taken down beside their car and eaten by someone else, the four of them know that this isn't a game. This is real, and suddenly, their only aim is to try and stay alive. 

I think McGuire thought of everything whilst writing Red Hill. She even included zombie children, which a lot of people don't write about when writing about this type of genre. I think it just makes it even more real and more enjoyable. She really creates an atmosphere of disaster and panic. Crying, screaming, anxiety, it's all in there. Hell, I got that lost in this story, I became rather creeped out and panicked about there being zombies in my back garden. Everything seems so real and detailed, she's really put a lot of thought into this novel, and it shows. It's gripping, exciting, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Damn, I read this in a day, that's how good it is. It's action packed, full of emotion and disaster. I genuinely can't do it justice with my words. 

I know for a fact that I'm giving Red Hill a worthy rating of 10/10
It really is THAT good. 

If you're a zombie-lover, then this is for you. If you like tense, dramatic, emotional scenes, then this book is for you. If you love action-packed novels with a kick-ass woman as the main character, then this book is for you. Y'know what? No matter what your favorite genre is, then this book IS FOR YOU. Seriously, you need to read it, and if that's not enough for you, it even has some romance in there too. Yep. She's that good. 

Buying links are here!
UK

Amazon - 

Amazon -







   

Far From Over by Sheila O'Flanagan

"It's not easy, she thought, this extended family lark. But it's something you can learn to live with."


Warring ex's, family issues and a woman who feels the need to spend, spend, spend when things get rough. Far From Over is a genuine, down-to-earth, warm story, that really brings the true meaning of love and family to the surface. Sheila O'Flanagan highlights the real problems within a family, and instead of smoothing them over, she deals with them through her brilliant array of colorful characters. 

Gemma and David were married. They had the big, beautiful house, the money, the holidays, all the luxuries they could ever want. Until everything fell apart, their life with their two children, Keelin and Ronan, was pretty much perfect. David turned into a workaholic, spending less and less time at home with his family, less time with Gemma, and less time with their relationship. Unable to take any more, Gemma Garvey decided to go down the divorced mother of two road, and do it on her own. 

Now, David has found himself a new woman, who just happens to be a size ten, twenty four year old, tall, elegant, flame-haired beauty. Gemma can't stand her. 

It's a clash of the titans. Gemma, David, Orla, Ronan and Keelin are about to be taken on a bumpy adventure, through the twists and turns of family life. 

Becca's thoughts


Firstly, I just want to say a few things about the cover of Far From Over, because it is just perfect for the story inside. The cup of coffee, the mummy looking apron, the pink and purple font themes, it's just lovely, and it depicts the feeling of home, of a hard working mother and of family. It's feminine, it's simple and it's pretty. It's 100% spot on. 

Sheila O'Flanagan has given this story to us in third person narrative, and we get to see through the eyes and feel through the hearts of many different characters. We get Gemma's point of view, as well as her daughter's, Keelin. We also get David's and Orla's too, which makes things even more interesting. As the pages are turned, the viewpoints swap and change, dropping the story with one character and then swiftly picking it back up with the next. What I love about this is we get to find out things before the characters in the book do, and it's so satisfying and enjoyable. 

The characters in Far From Over are a brilliant mix. We have Keelin, who is only fourteen years old, right up to her father David, who is forty years old. 

Gemma Garvey is the very first character that you get to meet in the book. She works a hairdresser and is a complete and utter shopaholic. Even when she can't afford something, she still buys it anyway. She's thirty five, which isn't actually old at all, but when comparing herself to David's new "flame-haired bimbo bitch", she feels as old as anything. She constantly puts herself down in the story, complaining about the fact that she has put on weight and that she feels ancient, but I think this is all down to the fact that David's new wife is eleven years younger than her and looks like a supermodel. Gemma tries, she really does, and I did feel so sorry for her in many parts of the book. David flounces around with his new piece, whilst Gemma isn't really going anywhere, can hardly be responsible over money and spends her free time washing and cleaning at home. She is always talking about the beginning of her and David's relationship, how wonderful and perfect it had been and how in love they had been with each other at the start. She's funny though, and she's got quite a sharp tongue. She's a fantastic character, and she really makes the story what it is. 

Orla Hennessy is the "flame-haired bimbo bitch" that Gemma cannot stand. There's no particular reason as to why Gemma doesn't like Orla, but Orla isn't too keen on Gemma either. It's practically wife wars! Orla is only twenty four years old, so she's a lot younger than her forty year old husband. She is beautiful, tall, thin and incredibly attractive. She is also very ambitious, and not really meant to play the role of a house wife at all. As much as I took Gemma's side throughout the majority of the book, I did feel, now and again, a bit sorry for Orla. She's this stunning young woman, married at such a young age, to a man with two children and an ex wife that is still pretty much in the picture. She has a lot to deal with, but she believes that she is well and truly in love with David, and of course, love does conquer all, doesn't it? 

David Hennessy is Gemma's ex husband, Orla's new husband and the father of Keelin and Ronan. He's a very hard worker, in other words, a workaholic, who made a complete mess of his marriage with Gemma. He's very traditional in his beliefs, believing that a man should go to work to provide for his family, whilst the woman stays at home with the children and has dinner on the table, waiting for him when he comes home. He's a good father though, seeing his children regularly and giving Gemma money to keep them in luxuries, he even pays for them to go on holiday together. He gets it right, but he gets it wrong the majority of the time. Sometimes I felt like punching him in the face. Okay. A lot of the time. 

Keelin is David and Gemma's daughter, and also Ronan's sister.She's a beautiful young girl, who can look almost seventeen when she puts effort into her appearance. Since the divorce between her mother and father, Keelin has become a bit of a recluse. She usually has her dark hair falling over her face and doesn't really say much, but when she does, you're quite surprised at how wise such a young girl can be. She's at the age where boys are becoming interesting rather than yukky, and she's very clever. She plays a great role in the story, and it's also really refreshing to get a glimpse of  a teenager's point of view too. 

Overall, the characters are a great bunch of people, and once you get to know them, they become so real it's crazy! 

The tone of the book is very family orientated. It focuses a lot on the couples, how they're feeling, and it really throws you too! There's a lot of unexpected goings on included in here, which makes it even more enjoyable. They go on holiday, we get to see the aftermath of Orla and David's honeymoon period, Keelin's thoughts about her father's new wife and Gemma's thoughts too, which are hilarious by the way! It's a great book, and I'm so glad I took the time to read it. It's quite long, at 599 pages, but it's worth it once you get to the end. 

I'd recommend Far From Over to anyone who enjoys a bit of drama, a bit of bitchiness, and a lot of giggles. It's funny, heart-warming and so, so genuine! Trust me, you'll love it! 

I'm giving Far From Over a fantastic rating of 9/10! It deserves nothing less. You completely lose yourself in the story and in the characters, and it's magical when that happens. Sheila O'Flanagan deserves nothing but praise for this, absolutely fantastic!