Blog Tour: Book Review - Does My Bump Look Big In This? by Amy Lynch

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be sharing my book review of the latest release from the fabulous Amy Lynch, Does My Bump Look Big In This? as part of the blog tour.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - Does My Bump Look Big In This?
Author - Amy Lynch
Publication Date - September 29th 2016
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 329

Blurb
The mother of all comedies is due...

Newlyweds Barry and Becky are just back from their tropical honeymoon. The tans are gorgeous, and it was five star luxury all the way. But there's been a problem. Barry's desperate for a baby, and Becky's not quite so keen.

Surrounded by pregnant friends and a mother who's talking about the ticking of invisible biological clocks, Becky starts to feel the pressure. When a surprise pregnancy rocks the boat, Becky's friends and family are rooting for her all the way. Will she navigate the choppy waters to motherhood? Will she survive antenatal classes? Can she avoid stretchmarks, indigestion and her dreaded boss?

And most importantly of all... does her bump look big in this?

Review
And we're back with the hilarious Becky, folks!

Since being introduced to Rebecca in Lynch's Bride Without A Groom, it's safe to say that I've missed her hilarious outlook on life and all that it happens to throw her way. So when news about Lynch's next novel began to make the rounds, I couldn't wait to see what Becky would get up to next. Whatever it was, I was certain there'd be plenty of laugh-out-loud moments along the way, which is something Lynch provides plenty of for her readers.

In Does My Bump Look Big In This?, readers take the ride alongside Becky to motherhood. Just back from a gorgeous honeymoon, the pressure to begin a family is beginning to weigh on Becky's shoulders. With all her friends already mummies or mummies-to-be, Becky begins hearing the baby-talk in all directions and isn't sure what to do about it. Is she even mummy material? Could she really cope with all that a child would bring into her life? It's a tough call, but even Barry seems to be taking everyone else's side. It's just not fair!

As expected, Does My Bump Look Big In This? was absolutely rammed with moments of hilarity. Becky's original personality positively shone through and, despite being a woman who enjoys the drama of life, I can't deny that I have a soft spot for her, even though she could possibly drive me wild if I knew her in real life. Lynch achieved a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life in this one, each of them bold and vibrant in their unique ways of life and how they acted/spoke. Barry, as always, had my sympathies for having to put up with Becky, but it was clear that he loved Becky, no matter what she did, and I loved this about their pairing. Although rather opposite in their ways, they were perfect for each other and the love radiated from them.

I was laughing and giggling pretty much right the way through this one, as well as feeling the pressure on Becky's behalf. I'm sure a lot of women could relate to the emotions Becky feels throughout the novel, myself included. Lynch got it spot-on and I was cheering for Becky right the way through. She's got to be one of the most entertaining characters I've had the pleasure of meeting, fiction wise, and a memorable one too. She sticks with you, stands out from the crowd, and reading about what she gets up to throughout the novel is a pure joy.

Overall, Does My Bump Look Big In This? was an absolute pleasure to read from beginning to end. Peppered with Becky's trademark hilarity and total outrage when things don't go to plan, this was a book that had me grinning from ear to ear, and doing so right the way through. Becca's Books is awarding Does My Bump Look Big In This? by Amy Lynch with four of my bookish cupcakes! A proper laugh-out-loud comedy!



I Turned My Love Life into a Novel by Jenny Stallard, author of Boyfriend by Christmas

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be welcoming Jenny Stallard, author of Boyfriend by Christmas, to the blog. Jenny will be sharing a fabulous piece she has written on how she managed to turn her love life into a novel. Enjoy, lovely book folk!


How I Turned My Love Life Into a Novel
By Jenny Stallard

This time last year I was anticipating the release of my first novel, Boyfriend by Christmas. It tells the story of a writer who is a 'dating correspondent’ for a lifestyle website, and told she needs to find a man or a new job. 
But to say this was an idea out of the blue, nothing to do with my own life, would be untrue. 
I've been single bar a couple of three to five month 'relationships' for 18 years. 
As those years went on and I developed my career as a journalist I also developed something of a 'can't beat em? Better join em!' mentality. I'd always been drawn to confessional journalism, always wished to be a columnist - why not use the 'predicament' of being single to my advantage? 

And so it began some 5 or so years ago. I wrote some magazine pieces about being single, even about having never been told 'I love you'. (I know, don't feel too sad, it's ok, they paid me).

Then, in October 2014, I pitched a column to Metro newspaper (I was freelance then, and am staff at Metro now). The idea was simple: I would spend the next three months charting my ups and downs of single life, under the banner of 'Boyfriend by Christmas'.
I went to every event I could – including pheromone dating where you sniff strangers’ t-shirts and pizza dating) as well as signing up to countless apps and sites. I had a date at the services on the M4, wore a fake ‘tache at Movember dating and was set up by my dad.

Then, halfway through this mayhem that I’d created for myself, I had a call from a literary agent, who felt the column could become a book. The dream, people, the dream! He pitched it to a publisher, Penguin Michael Joseph, and they commissioned Boyfriend by Christmas. My love life was indeed becoming a novel…

But, well, 500 or so words a week about a dating event, was quite manageable. But 80,000?! That was a different kettle of fish. And the deadline was a tight one. So it was that I began charting not just what happened each week, but just about every date I'd been on, every high and low of emotion and encounter. It all went into Boyfriend by Christmas.

I channelled the highs and lows of being single, the moments of fun and laughter but also the moments of aching loneliness and confusion over ‘why not me?’. I really wanted to portray all sides of being single, the raised hopes, the eternal rounds of first dates, the fun in feeling free, of cheeky nightclub snogs, and having single mates to bounce life experiences off.
I wanted to reach out to women and men, single and coupled up, and catalogue a moment in time, in my life. But with bells on, since this was fiction, obviously! A bad date for me became a terrible date for my main character Genie Havisham. I imagined many dream scenarios – meeting a man on the Eurostar, and even matching with a workmate on Tinder.

Genie Havisham is my heroine. And yes, now about 10 people have pointed it out, I know how close to Jenny it sounds! Maybe it was my subconscious.  But I did set out for this to be fiction and to me, it is.
Well for a start she has three men interested at one point - chance would have been a fine thing!

Turning your love life into fiction is a strange self-editing process. Just because I found a date funny, interesting, or emotional, doesn't mean a reader would. Sometimes I wrote paragraphs that only made sense to me, and would never make sense to anyone else.  
And you know you’ve reached peak sex scene when your mum asks if the saucy bits all happened! No of course they didn't. As I say, chance would have been a fine thing!

The other flip side of turning your love life into a novel is, of course, keeping it funny as well as real. There have been moments I have hated being single and even times I was jealous of Genie when she had a man who liked her, who called and wanted to date. Why wasn't that happening for me when I could make it happen for her?!

So as another Christmas rolls around and I think to my book, its festive theme and how it's something of a memoir for my days as a single woman, I can't help but feel nostalgic. I might have hoped for a boyfriend, and got a book deal instead but I feel happy and no regret that I turned my love life into a novel.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

Blurb
It's bad enough to be perpetually single, without also being the dating journalist for a major lifestyle website. And Genie Havisham has just been set her toughest deadline yet: find a boyfriend by Christmas or find a new job.

Determined not to end the year alone and jobless, Genie sets out to find where all the eligible bachelors in London have been hiding, using whatever means possible.

But among the terrible dates, one night stands and the unexpected return of her 'supposedly reformed' ex-boyfriend, could Genie have overlooked what's been right under her nose all along?

Blog Tour: Book Review - Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be sharing my review of the wonderful Lisa Dickenson's Mistletoe on 34th Street. It's the perfect time to be getting into those festive reads, and this is definitely one to add to your reading lists this Christmas!

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - Mistletoe on 34th Street
Author - Lisa Dickenson
Publication Date - November 3rd 2016
Publisher - Sphere
Format - Paperback
Pages - 432

Blurb
Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, 'traditional' Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she's not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia's friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia?

As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Review
It's been such a long time since I found the opportunity to dive into a fabulous Lisa Dickenson novel, so when I was contacted about Mistletoe on 34th Street, I absolutely jumped at the chance to read it. I fell head over heels in love with the cover and despite never experiencing a New York Christmas for myself, it's one thing I adore reading about in books, so it's safe to say that Lisa Dickenson's brand new novel felt to me like the perfect package.

In Dickenson's Mistletoe on 34th Street, readers are introduced to Olivia. Funny, smart, witty and utterly charming, I loved this character from the moment I met her. Not one for going all in at Christmas, when she finds herself and her colleagues stranded in New York city thanks to never-ending snowfall back in the UK, she's not quite sure of what to do with herself. She's never really understood what all the fuss is about when it comes to 'decking the halls'. Thankfully, her friend and colleague Jon knows exactly what is needed to show Olivia what Christmas is truly all about, and so he does exactly that in the most exciting of ways.

Dickenson brought the setting of New York to life beautifully. It was utterly magical and completely enchanting. Her descriptions danced right off the page and allowed me to place myself within the story, right beside Olivia, as she slowly began to open her eyes to the true meaning of the most wonderful time of year. With the added themes of friendship and romance, it was the perfect package beautifully wrapped with a big shiny ribbon, and discovering New York and everything that it had to offer opened Olivia's eyes up to one of the most exciting places in the world. Dickenson's style is one of warmth and cosiness, yet absolutely hysterical at the same time which I LOVE about this author. Numerous times throughout reading I found myself giggling away, making this all the more enjoyable and entertaining for me!

If you're not yet ready for the festive season, you certainly will be after reading this. It's a little gem of a book jam-packed with fantastic characters, gorgeous descriptions and everything in-between that will have you smiling from ear to ear and urging Christmas to get a wriggle on!

Becca's Books is awarding Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson with five of my bookish cupcakes! An absolute treat this Christmas time, I promise.


About the author
Lisa Dickenson is the pseudonym for Beyoncé. OK, FINE, THAT'S NOT TRUE.

Lisa lives by the Devon seaside, stuffing cream teas in the gobs of anyone who comes to visit, and writing stuff down that she hopes is funny. Her first novel was the copyright-infringing Sweet Valley Twins: The Twins Holiday Horror, which she wrote in primary school and gave up on after five pages. Twenty-ish years later Lisa went on to be a *real author* and wrote the Novelicious Debut of the Year, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. In summer 2016 out popped You Had Me at Merlot. She's now keeping her fingers crossed that everyone will like her third paperback, Mistletoe on 34th Street, and that New York City gives her a free apartment near Central Park as a 'well done'.

You can find Lisa Dickenson on Facebook | Twitter | lisadickenson.com

Blog Tour: Book Review & Giveaway - The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by Lynsey James

Happy Tuesday, wonderful book folk! Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be sharing my review of the fabulously festive The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by the equally fabulous Lynsey James, as part of the blog tour organised by Jenny over at Neverland Blog Tours. There's also the chance to win a £25 theatre voucher with the ATG theatre group! (This giveaway is UK ONLY!) 

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime
Author - Lynsey James
Series - Luna Bay
Publication Date - November 10th 2016
Publisher - HQ
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by tour host)
Pages - 196

Blurb
This Christmas pantomime is about to be the talk of the town!

Luna Bay's festive preparations are well under way and the much anticipated annual pantomime is to be, once again, the highlight of the season. Too bad that the village's very own actress and darling of Broadway, Alice Woods, isn't feeling in the mood for Christmas.

Until the pantomime comes under threat and a grief-stricken Alice is forced to push her personal pain aside and step up to direct - after all, the show must go on...

So with (more than) a little help from her new found friends, not to mention one very gorgeous Hollywood A-list celebrity, the play begins to come together, but will Alice finally believe that Christmas is a time for miracles after all?

Review
Since reading The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James, I absolutely could not wait to get started on The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime. Whether you think November is too early or not to get cracking on those festive reads, this will certainly turn your cheeks rosy with joy and warm you from the inside and out. It's funny, romantic, and positively brimming over with fabulously crafted characters and a hearty helping of emotion too.

In The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime, we're introduced to Alice Woods. Once a Broadway star amongst the bright lights of New York, three years ago she returned to Luna Bay with a massive chunk of her heart missing. The rumour mill was rife with gossip about her return but now, after so much time has passed, Alice has managed to remain anonymous and living a solitary life which is just the way she likes it. Her circle is small and she hopes for it to remain that way. After all, the less people she holds dear to her heart, the less chance there is of losing them. Alice knows of heartache and loss. Of what it's like to grieve. And she knows, too, that she wouldn't be able to deal with what happened before, again.

Thanks to the gentle nudging from her well-meaning mother, Alice is offered the chance to head off to sunnier climes for Christmas. It's a time of year that really gets to her, and she can't stand spending it alone anymore, not without that special someone by her side. But, in order for Alice to be able to jet off with her mother, she's talked into taking part in the Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime. The thought alone is enough to have Alice running for the hills, but she knows, deep down, that it's time to get on with life, no matter how much it hurts.

And so the fun begins! Lynsey creates some absolutely fantastic characters in this story. There's Christabel, who's been taking charge of the Christmas pantomime for years. It's her pride and joy, yet she seems to just keep on making a mess of things. There's the very handsome and charming Ethan, who seeks out a place to lay low in Luna Bay, and who seems to know Alice inside out without her having to say a word. There are characters from the first two Luna Bay books for readers to look forward to seeing again too. Lucy and Emily play a wonderful role in Alice's life once she allows them in. Friendship and support are exactly what she needs and these two women provide exactly that in the most beautiful of ways. There are also the cast members of the pantomime to look forward to meeting who are all, in their own ways, colourful and entertaining to say the least.

 There was so much heart and feeling within this book. It's a story of courage and of learning to let go. Of being brave enough to move forward in life despite the things that may hold a person back. It's full of friendship and romance, and plenty of surprises too! From beginning to end, I raced through and absolutely devoured everything that the author had to offer. Already I can't wait to get stuck into the next book from Lynsey James. This put a massive smile on my face and a lightness in my heart.

Becca's Books is awarding The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by Lynsey James with five of my bookish cupcakes. I was totally engrossed and loved everything from the characters to the relationships within. It was a wonderful festive tale absolutely perfect for this time of year!


Giveaway

About the author
Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She's an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she's sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn't a "good option" and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven't looked back since.

When Lynsey's not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she's daydreaming about the day Dylan O'Brien FINALLY realises they're meant to be together. It'll happen one day...
                

You can find Lynsey James on Facebook | Twitter | lynseyjames.wordpress.com

Be sure to keep up with the rest of the blog tour!

Blog Tour: Book Review - Safe With Me by K.L. Slater

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be sharing my book review of K.L. Slater's Safe With Me as part of the blog tour.

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Title - Safe With Me
Author - K.L. Slater
Publication Date - November 3rd 2016
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 324

Blurb
Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it's her turn to get even...

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn't like to let people get too close - she knows how much damage they can do.

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it's Anna's chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully...

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows...

But as Anna's obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?

Review
What a thrill ride of a psychological thriller Safe With Me by K.L. Slater turned out to be. Bookouture weren't lying when they said that this was a 'psychological thriller so tense it will take your breath away'. Sublimely dark and all-consuming, Slater has written a novel so gripping, so captivatingly exciting that I found myself shushing everyone and ignoring everything simply so I could carry on reading.

In Safe With Me by K.L. Slater, we're introduced to Anna. Slater takes her readers straight to the action, as Anna is witness to a terrible accident in which a man, Liam, is flung from his motorcycle from the impact of the crash, and rushed to hospital. It is only when Anna sets eyes on the other woman at the scene of the accident that she realises she knows her. In fact, this woman played a devastating role in Anna's past, the impact of which has remained with Anna throughout her life ever since. Now, face to face with her again after so much time has passed, she refuses to let the woman out of her sight again. Revenge is sweet, especially when it creeps up on you seemingly out of nowhere. Fate has a dark and dangerous hand to play in the reunion of these two women and things are about to take a menacing and nasty turn.

K.L. Slater writes with such sharp precision and edginess, it's impossible not to feel the effects of the circumstances which unravel as if they're a physical thing. From beginning to end, I found it near impossible to put this book down and read it in record time, with my heart racing and adrenaline pumping. It was dark and twisted, with an incredibly oppressive atmosphere and tone that clung to me right the way through the novel, refusing to let go and allow me to breathe easily. Slater's continuous references to Anna's past hooked me completely and I became desperate to know exactly what had happened all those years before between these two women. It was clear from Anna's reaction that she hadn't expected to see this woman, who we know as Amanda, to appear again in her life and it's a serious shock to the system. Immediately, one million questions arose in my mind and I couldn't wait for the answers to be delivered. It was mysterious in every way possible, but with such a menacing undertone that got right beneath my skin and encouraged me to keep those pages turning until I reached the very end.

Slater's characters were fantastically constructed and each of them a puzzle to be solved. I found Anna to be a bit curious, although that's not to say that I didn't like her. In fact, I'd say I was rather fascinated by the woman. She was determined to wriggle her way into Liam's life and intent on growing closer to him in order to get closer to Amanda. I knew that whatever had happened between them must have been something terrible, as there was no chance Anna was letting it go. She was clever, yet had demons of her own to slay, and it seemed those demons came in the form of Amanda.

Between the chapters following Anna's chasing of Amanda, Slater took us back in time and began to deliciously pepper the novel with flashes of the past, creating the foundations of this story and slowly but surely delivering the full picture of what happened all those years before. I adored this aspect and thoroughly enjoyed being taken back in time, as it allowed me to understand why Anna was so angry and intent on getting revenge. It was incredibly intriguing and again, Slater's style was addictive, leading me further into this dark and twisted maze of a story that had goose-bumps prickling my skin.

All in all, this is an absolutely thrilling debut from K.L. Slater that has left me eager for more from this author. Dark and twisted, edgy and sharp, it truly got beneath my skin and had me excited for whatever the author would throw at her characters next. Becca's Books is awarding Safe With Me by K.L. Slater with five of my bookish cupcakes. This was darkly executed, and written by an author who clearly knows how to tease and taunt her readers in the best possible way. Roll on the next novel by K.L. Slater!


About the author
For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents and a book deal which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim writes psychological crime thrillers for Bookouture. Her first book, 'Safe with Me' is published on 3rd November 2016.

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac. Between them they have three grown-up kids; Kim's daughter, Francesca, and Mac's sons, Nathan and Jake.

She also writes multi-award winning YA fiction under the name Kim Slater.

You can find K.L. Slater on Facebook | Twitter | klslaterauthor.com