Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann blogtour book review

valley of the dolls

Valley of the Dolls was written by Jacqueline Susann back in 1966, 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of this iconic novel that broke the mould in literacy.  I am so pleased and honoured to be part of the blogtour with Virago in honouring and celebrating this historical story.  Valley of the Dolls achieved the number 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list and remained there for an unrivalled 28 weeks.

To purchase this wonderful 50th Anniversary edition, that has wonderful pink edging to the pages please visit the following link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valley-Dolls-VMC-Jacqueline-Susann/dp/0349008329/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467100856&sr=1-2&keywords=valley+of+the+dolls

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.

Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.

Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.

SusannJacqueline

I’d like to thank the publishers Virago for my copy of this classic in return for an honest review.

The story starts in 1945 when country girl Anne arrives in New York to start her new life in the most exciting city in the world.  Anne ended up working for a big theatrical attorney.  She was definitely ‘a fish out of water’ in this new world at the start of the celeb culture but Anne soon settled and soon made friends.  One of her first friends was Neely, a 17 year old singer and dancer trying to make it big in a dance/singing trio.  Another friend Anne made was Jennifer whose beauty and figure helped her get a role in the next big Broadway show.  Neely also managed to get a role in this Broadway show with help and encouragement from Anne.We follow the girls on their quest for stardom, love and happiness but the rise to fame comes with many costs.

The demands that were placed on these young women dreaming of stardom were insurmountable.  They felt like the only release for them was a ‘red, yellow, green or even blue striped pill’ washed down with alcohol.  This was the start of a regime that very easily spiralled out of control.  Hollywood was turning the young and beautiful starlets into monsters.  This was the start of the media obsessed culture and producers expected their girls to act and look a certain way.  All most of the stars wanted was to be loved whether by an audience or by a partner.

It was a fascinating read, probably the first book to look at showbiz culture in the raw. All the razzmatazz was clouded and fuelled by drugs, alcohol and sex.  Young actors were used, manipulated and thrown aside all to make sales and Hollywood look good.  Jacqueline Susann was very honest, frank and raw with her writing.  This era wasn’t very kind to the homosexual community and people openly called them names.  With the open use of drugs, sex and alcohol and the independence of women post war wanting to work this novel and Jacqueline Susann helped to pioneer addiction, women’s rights and gay rights.

I felt very sad for Anne, Neely and Jennifer, their lives were controlled by men who wished for them to be or act like someone else.

Just as the young stars were drawn to drink and drugs I felt myself as a reader ‘drugged’ by the words on the pages.  I couldn’t get enough.  I was eager to know what happened next.  On the one hand Valley of the Dolls was shocking, tragic and heart breaking BUT on the other it was also glamorous, sexy and very indulgent!  5/5*

To find out more about this iconic novel and it’s 50th Anniversary celebrations please click on the following links:

http://www.valleyofthedolls.com/#homepage

Virago Books will be holding many celebrations with this iconic novel, please look out for details on their twitter page:

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Valentina by S. E. Lynes book review

valentina

Valentina written by S E Lynes, publisher Blackbird Digital Books is available in ebook and paperback format from Friday 1st July 2016.

To pre-order/buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valentina-Hauntingly-Intelligent-Psychological-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01EVRUUMU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1466964653&sr=1-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…
cottage in the woods scotland

I’d like to thank Blackbird Digital Books for an arc of this novel in return for an honest review.  I’d also like to thank them for encouraging me to open my eyes to a different reading genre.  My preferred genres are women’s contemporary fiction and romcoms so opening up an intelligent, psychological thriller is a whole new group of words for me to dive into.

This story however, was more than a psychological thriller, it was a play with relationships and personalities.

Shona is a journalist for the local rag in Glasgow when she meets Mikey, a University Graduate in Engineering, a whirlwind romance blossoms.  With the unexpected news of Shona’s pregnancy Mikey lands himself a ‘proper job’ working for an oil company offshore off the coast of Aberdeen.  Mikey moves his girlfriend Shona and their 4 month old baby girl Isla to an idyllic cottage in the Aberdeenshire countryside.  Life is looking rosy for the young couple; new baby, new home, new job.

Mikey’s job takes him away two weeks out of every four and Shona is soon feeling very isolated in this little cottage with just her baby daughter to keep her company.  Until one day she bumps into another young mum, Valentina, a striking red head with so much charm and confidence it was difficult not to enjoy her company.  Valentina and her son Zak’s appearance in Shona and Isla’s lives was perfect timing.  Shone and Valentina hit it off straight away, it was as if they had been made for each other.

However, small cracks started to appear in Shona and Valentina’s friendship and Shona was soon doubting herself and panic and paranoia sets in.  Shona was still very vulnerable with her new life in the country and didn’t want to upset her friendship with Valentina so any concerns she had she kept to herself for fear of losing the only friend she felt she could confide in.

The unease from her friendship with Valentina starts spilling over into her love life with Mikey.  Shona starts going out of her mind with different scenarios running through her head.  She doesn’t know who or what to believe anymore.

The story takes lots of twists and turns that keep you gripped and guessing to the very end.  To read a book in a genre I don’t normally read and to be gripped by the complexities of the characters and storyline is the sign of a great author.  A very promising start to a debut author’s career.  I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone … 5/5*

To find out more about S. E. Lynes and her writing please visit the following links:

 

A Village Romance: The Little Perran Romances book 2 by Lynda Renham book review

a village romance

A Village Romance: The Little Perran Romances book 2 written by Lynda Renham, publisher Raucous Publishing is available NOW in ebook format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Village-Romance-compassionate-sizzling-Romances-ebook/dp/B01HDWEWR4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1466863249&sr=8-2&keywords=a+village+romance+lynda+renham

Product Details (as per amazon page)

As a heatwave rolls into Little Perran, so does love. Billy Baxter, the has-been rock star, and Rafe Wylde, the hunky farm worker arrive, both destined to cause havoc as they touch the lives of the villagers. Milly finds a new job and things start to look up for her, but she is unaware that a ghost from her past is looking for her.

Funny, Compassionate and Sizzling Sexy, a Village Romance is a page-turning summer read. A Village Romance is the second book in The Little Perran Romance series by Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect.

welcome village sign clipart

I’d like to thank the author, Lynda Renham, for an arc in return for an honest review.

This is the second book in The Little Perran Romances series.  A series of novellas set in a beautiful, idyllic village in the Cotswolds where love finds a way of blossoming in the villagers lives …

A Christmas Romance is book 1 in The Little Perran Romances and you can find my review here.  The novellas can be read as standalone but to appreciate and gain the most enjoyment out of the stories I would encourage you to read them all.

Billy Baxter is a has-been rocker, his recent album is not doing great sales wise, probably mimicking his life at the moment.  His manager thinks it’ll be a great idea to clean up his act by moving out of London and into the country.  Billy reluctantly agrees, packs his bags and guitar and zooms off to Little Perran.  His arrival doesn’t go smoothly and people see the loud, rocker side of Billy immediately.

Another newcomer to the village, trying to escape his past, is author Ashley Wilmot-Fox.  Following a terrible accident Ashley is suffering with his injuries.  With a bashed up arm and a limp his melancholy towards his life with his disability is clearly visible until he spots shop worker Milly.  Milly’s kindness and chatter charm him but he refuses to let his heart be broken again. However, when he places an advert for a Housekeeper/Domestic Helper and Milly applies for the job he can’t help himself and gives her the job.

Milly is relatively new to the village, has settled in really well, she works in the local village shop and also enjoys pottery in her spare time.  The locals have warmed to Milly and it feels like she has been part of the village for years.  Sadly, Milly has a secret past in the city and the village has been a welcome distraction for her.

We meet again the lovely villagers we fell in love with in book 1: A Christmas Romance; Frankie and Roux, Birdie and Ben.  It was lovely to catch up with them.

How will aged rocker Billy Baxter cope with the more slower life in the country and will the villagers take to this forthright, brash man?

Will author Ashley Wilmot-Fox find the strength and the words to write again?

Will the past for our villagers old and new destroy their hopes and dreams for the future?

I loved this second book in the series, lots of new characters to welcome into the village.  I love Lynda Renham’s writing style, she is very honest and frank and true to the characters. Lynda has great whit and humour and you can imagine the characters that Lynda has created on the pages. I was just getting into this charming village story with all it’s possibilities for lots of twists and turns in the villagers lives and I came to the end BUT I’m so excited that Lynda has book 3: A Summer Romance due to be published on the 1st July.

This story is fun, fruity and fabulous and has left me wanting more … 5/5*

To find out more about Lynda Renham and her books please visit the following pages:

http://www.renham.co.uk/

 

Katy Carter Keeps a Secret by Ruth Saberton book review

 

Katy Carter Keeps a Secret

Katy Carter Keeps a Secret written by Ruth Saberton, publisher Notting Hill Press is available in ebook format and part of the kindleunlimited scheme NOW.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Katy-Carter-Keeps-Secret-Saberton-ebook/dp/B01FIBDL2O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1466406466&sr=1-1&keywords=katy+carter+keeps+a+secret

Product Details (as per amazon page)

There are some things a girl has to keep to herself…

Hopeless romantic Katy Carter still dreams of becoming bestselling novelist. A ghost writer by trade, Katy knows she’s no Booker Prize winner but has fun penning sizzling scenes and hot heroes for celebrity novels. Writing aside, Katy no longer fantasises about a hero of her own – she’s found him in teacher boyfriend, Ollie. After five years together their own happy ever after is just around the corner – if she can only rescue the couple’s ailing finances.

But with Ollie becoming increasingly career minded and teaching at a very strict school, Katy’s racy writing soon causes difficulties. When she secretly signs a contract with steamy publisher Throb, tensions mount. A surprise trip across the pond brings things to a head, sparking a chain of events which set Katy on a collision course with family, friends and, most of all, her one true hero…

lobster clipart

I’d like to thank the author, Ruth Saberton, for an arc in return for an honest review.

This is my first introduction to Katy Carter as I hadn’t read the prequel to this book, Katy Carter Wants a Hero, so I purely read this as a standalone novel and it could very easily be enjoyed as a standalone.  However, now I’ve read Katy Carter Keeps a Secret, I want to step back in time with Katy, Ollie and co and learn about their history and fall in love with their back story.

Katy Carter is a ghost writer for local WAG Tansy Topham but what she’d really like is to write her own romance stories under her own name.  However, this will have to wait as Katy has been approached by Throb Publishing (yes, fab apt name) to write the next big erotic novel.  Katy does struggle with this genre, it doesn’t come naturally but manages to put together the first chapter for the publisher’s approval.

However, Katy has kept this latest work in process secret from her boyfriend of 5 years Ollie.  Ollie is an English Teacher for a well regarded Catholic School.  Ollie and Katy first met whilst they were both teaching and love blossomed from there on.  Katy still does do the occasional supply teaching to help supplement her writing.

When Katy’s chapter for Throb is accepted and she’s given the contract to write the full novel her world starts to get a little crazy.  With the help of her best friend Mads and Ollie’s younger brother Nicky we follow Katy’s journey on writing the new blockbuster whilst trying to keep the job and her name anonymous.

This was such a fun filled story.  Ruth has intertwined some wonderful comedic moments in the storyline, I loved and laughed so much at Ann’s birthday meal and party, what a memorable occasion she and all her guests will have!

As I hadn’t read the prequel to this novel I didn’t know about the relevance of Pinchy, the lobster that Katy saved from the chef’s pot.  Ruth carefully briefed the readers of the back story of Pinchy and it was lovely to see his return and he played an important part in a special moment for Katy’s life.

Ruth has created a great, likeable character in Katy Carter.  Katy is a fun loving, abit clumsy and impulsive at times and lover of all things romance.  You can’t help loving Katy and routing for her all the way through the story.  Ollie’s character sounded just like one of Katy’s imaginary romance novel heroes.  I also loved all the sub characters, Katy’s parents were such colourful characters and Nicky, Ollie’s brother, was a revelation!  I hope Ruth will reintroduce us to these sub characters and expand more with a novel devoted to them?

I don’t like to reveal much of the plot in my reviews but when I finished reading this novel I felt myself sigh … it felt like I had just stepped into the latest Box Office romcom.  It was such a likeable, fun, crazy, romantic story that swept you away leaving you deliciously happy.  Oh and it had the cutest lobster I have ever heard of that I’m sure Disney would agree!  Pinchy rules!  5/5*

If Katy Carter Keeps a Secret went to the big screen I’d love to see the following actors play the parts of three of the main characters:

To find out more about Ruth Saberton and her books please visit the following links:

http://www.ruthsaberton.co.uk/RuthSaberton.co.uk/Welcome.html

https://www.facebook.com/Ruth-Saberton-Author-117666788262892/?fref=nf

 

 

Guest post: Q & A with author Lenora Bell + giveaway

Lenora Bell collage

It’s a few weeks now since the paperback publication of Lenora Bell’s debut book, How the Duke was Won.  I adored this enticing romance and can’t wait for Lenora’s next book.  I am so pleased to welcome Lenora Bell onto my page.  Welcome to my blog Lenora …

Have you always wanted to be a writer, and what made you decide to do Historical Romance?

Hi Adele, thanks for hosting me! I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I took a few detours along the way. Now I’m finally fulfilling my dreams and it’s so rewarding and amazing. I would say if you have a dream that you are passionate about … go for it!  Don’t let fear or self-doubt hold you back.
I write historical romance for two reasons: Jane Austen and Eloisa James.  Jane Austen sparked my love for historical fiction and Eloisa James was my inspiration for becoming a romance novelist.

 

I adored How the Duke was Won … if it went to the big screen who would you like to see portray the Duke?
I’m so glad you enjoyed the first book in the Disgraceful Dukes series! Ooh I love this question. I guess I’d have to choose Michiel Huisman. He’s a Dutch actor known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Orphan Black. He’s tall, dark, and handsome and just smolders on screen with this masculine, yet sensitive, energy (shhh…don’t tell my husband how many hours I’ve spent googling Michiel. It was all for book inspiration).
 
So I picture James looking kind of like this:
Michiel-Huisman-2
But wearing this:
Colin-Firth-as-Darcy-mr-darcy USE THIS ONE
Have you been inspired from your recent travels?
 
I love traveling and have lived and worked in Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. My travels definitely inspire my writing. Some of my favorite adventures include volunteering at a special needs orphanage in China, visiting Machu Picchu on a stunningly clear day, and exploring a castle in Switzerland that has graffiti from Lord Byron etched on a stone wall! While I was in Peru I visited a chocolate history museum as research for How the Duke Was Won. Recently I traveled to London and had a blast visiting museums, pubs, and historical sights.
How has your life changed since having your first book published?
I got to meet Eloisa James! And Sarah MacLean! And Lorraine Heath! And Julia Quinn! And…can you tell Im a breathless fangirl? Seriously, the big change is writing on a deadline. When you know theres an editor waiting for your book to be finished there’s a lot more pressure. But I need deadlines in order to produce anything. So bring it on.
What work do you have in progress?
 
Thanks for asking.  The second book in the Disgraceful Dukes series, If I Only Had a Duke comes out in a few months from Avon and Piatkus. There’s already a UK cover which I adore (see top right in the banner above). Right now I’m hard at work on the third book in the series which features Alice & Nick who you met in How the Duke Was Won.
So which books are you eagerly waiting for?
I can’t wait to read Eloisa James’ new Essex Sisters novella, A Gentleman Never Tells; Sarah MacLean’s A Scot in the Dark and Tessa Dare’s Do You Want to Start a Scandal!
GIVEAWAY
Lenora has kindly offered a Digital eBook download of How the Duke Was Won from amazon … to enter the giveaway just comment on this post by stating which is your favourite historical romance read.
 
To connect with Lenora Bell please visit the following links:
 

 

All Together Now by Gill Hornby blogtour book review

all together now pb

All Together Now written by Gill Hornby, publisher Little, Brown Book Group is available NOW in ebook, paperback, hardcover and audio download format.

To buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Together-Now-Gill-Hornby-ebook/dp/B00SYHY58Y/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1465977285&sr=1-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

The Bridgeford Community Choir is in crisis. Numbers are down. The choir leader is in hospital. The tea urn is behaving in an ominous fashion. Something must be done.

New joiners Tracey Leckford and Bennett Parker might just be able to save the day. But Tracey is hiding a huge secret about her past. And Bennett – while equipped with a beautiful singing voice – is entirely baffled by the world and everything in it. Can they really fit in with dependable old regulars like Annie?

As the choir suffers through fights, feuds and the perils of the school fair, it becomes clear that their struggles are not just about music, but the future of their community. In order to save their singing group and their town, the Bridgeford Singers will have to find a way to work together – in harmony.

All Together Now blog tour poster pt 2

I’m so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting the publication of All Together Now.  I’d like to thank the publishers for an arc in return for an honest review.

This was the first book I’ve read by Gill Hornby and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  From the first sights of the charming cover to the glimpse of the synopsis I could tell I was in for a treat.

The story is set in the fictional village of Bridgeford just off the M4.  Bridgeford is a tired little village feeling a little worn out and past it’s best and with the prospect of a new out of centre supermarket the High Street is in even more jeopardy of being lost forever.  The one thing Bridgeford does have is it’s own community choir however, same as the high street the choir is experiencing it’s own crisis; the choir competition is due soon, the choir leader is sadly indisposed and the choir are desperately in need of more members.

Tracey Leckford and her son have been living in Bridgeford for years, they’ve kept themselves to themselves, which is just how Tracey likes it.  However, when Tracey hears of the choirs plight a part of her life she had long forgotten glimmers with recognition and she considers joining the choir to bring this spark of recognition back to life.  She is slightly fearful of what the choir may do to her past she has kept carefully wrapped.

Another new recruit to the choir is newly singly and newly unemployed Bennett Parker.  Bennett is classically trained with a church choir heritage however, he has a secret love of a certain style of music which is far from his background.  Bennett’s character is quite shy, awkward and socially inept especially since his separation from his wife.

The choir is full of misfit characters who are trying to find their way in life. In an ordinary situation these characters wouldn’t fit but when they open their mouths to sing and let their hearts feel the love of music they all blend so magically and beautifully together.  I loved Annie who was the stalwart in the choir, forever helping people, doing all the chores, she saw no wrong in anyone but was facing many battles herself privately.  Jazzy was another favourite character and I wished she had the courage for more.  The choir sessions almost felt like a healing process for them all.

When some ‘interlopers’ join the choir trying to take over the choir was once again in danger of collapsing.  Can the choir gain strength within themselves to learn what is best for their future?

This was such a wonderful, uplifting, joyous read.  I felt sort of energised with this bond they all shared.  I loved Gill’s wit and humour and was laughing out loud many a time.  A truly lovely read.  5/5*

notes clipart

To find out more about Gill Hornby and her books please visit the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/GillHornbyAuthor/

 

The Little Village Bakery (Honeybourne Book 1) by Tilly Tennant book review

the little village bakery

The Little Village Bakery (Honeybourne book 1) written by Tilly Tennant, publisher Bookouture is available from WEDNESDAY 15th June 2016 in ebook and paperback format.

To pre-order/buy link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Village-Bakery-romantic-Honeybourne-ebook/dp/B01F2M4BVO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1465808409&sr=1-1

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Help yourself to a generous slice of Victoria sponge, a perfect cup of tea and a big dollop of romance. Welcome to the Little Village Bakery.

Meet Millie. Heartbreak has forced her to make a new start and when she arrives at the old bakery in the little village of Honeybourne she is determined that this will be her home sweet home. Her imagination has been captured by the tumbledown bakery but with no running water and dust everywhere, her cosy idea of making cakes in a rural idyll quickly crumbles.

Luckily the locals are a friendly bunch and step in to help Millie. One in particular, Dylan, a laid-back lothario, soon captures her attention.

But just as Millie is beginning to settle in, an unexpected visitor from her past suddenly turns up determined to ruin everything for her. It’s time for Millie to face the skeletons in her closet if she’s going to live the dream of running her little village bakery, and her blossoming romance with Dylan.

bunting

I’d like to thank the publishers Bookouture and netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

I adored this delightful story from Tilly Tennant and I am already pining for more from the characters I’ve learned to love in the charming village of Honeybourne.

Tilly has created such likeable characters. I liked Millie from the start, I could feel her heart ache but could sense there was more to her character. She was kind, considerate, creative. I loved how she knew apothecary and was interested in all things magical and mystical, it made her a ‘supercool’ character within the village.  Dylan was instantly likeable, the village lothario living a carefree life but was an adorable uncle to his nieces and nephew and a very caring brother. You could appreciate why he was admired by women of all ages.  Jasmine felt like the glue to her family and most of the villages.  She was a hardworking mum to triplets and had her own jewellery business.

Millie Hopkin was desperately sad and couldn’t cope anymore with the constant reminders and threats from her past.  She just had to get away and the snapshot of an old disused bakery on a property website, nestled in the village of Honeybourne, gave her the much needed hope for the future.

Weeks later Millie was unpacking the hired van full of all her possessions into the old bakery.  Millie’s dreams of taking over the old bakery and turning it into her own bakery were coming into fruition.  However, Millie didn’t envisage how run down the building was and she now realised her dream would take a lot of hard work and expense she couldn’t afford.

Jasmine and Rich and their triplets Rachel, Rebecca and Reuben have been living in the village of Honeybourne all their life.  When they notice Millie moving in they are keen to make her feel welcome in their village and offer help.  Jasmine runs her own jewellery business and Rich is a musician.  Jasmine’s brother Dylan, also notices Millie moving in but he has a slightly ulterior motive for helping Millie.  Dylan, is the village charmer and womaniser and when he first catches sight of Millie an instant attraction is felt.

The friendly, helpful neighbours make Millie wary.  She escaped her past and was hoping to settle in a quiet village keeping herself to herself.  She didn’t expect to find people so willing to introduce themselves and support her new business.  Millie eventually learns to accept their kindness but the threat from her past returns to wreak havoc with her new friends and with her hope of a new beginning.

Can Millie, with the help of her new friends, learn to leave the past behind and move on?  Can they eliminate her fears for the future?

A lovely heart warming tale of new beginnings, new friends, new love.  5/5*

To find out more about Tilly Tennant and her books please visit the following links:

About Tilly

https://www.facebook.com/TillyTennant/