You Dont Have To Say You Love Me – Sara Manning

8471815Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?

Like other Sara Manning books this one was slow to start off with, but don’t let the leisurely start put you off.  It’s funny when you get in to it and you can’t help warming to the lead character; Neve.  Neve has food issues that I can relate to.  She’s lost an immense amount of weight in a hope that being a size 10 will make other people view her differently and her happy.  She’s in love with a guy who she was at Uni with, he hasn’t seen her for three years but he’s due back in a few months.  The story is about how Neve feels that she needs to have dating and relationship experience so that when William comes back from the States she wouldn’t make any mistakes.  That really does sum up Neve’s low self esteem, she’s been bullied all her life about her weight, burying her nose in a book to escape real life.  Neve meets Max and they embark on quite a hilarious pancake relationship, but Max has his own issues.  I’m rating this as a must read.

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The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins

 Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdee steps forward to take her younger sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Why have I been putting off reading these books for so long?  Everyone has been telling me how good they were but I kept putting it off.  Well in the beginning it was because the books were so expensive on iBooks.  I’ve had my kindle reader on my new phone for a while, but had managed to build up quite a backlog of books to read.  I’m very pleased I did though; The Hunger Games trilogy is amazing.  Suzanne Collins is such an excellent author, she tells quite a disturbing tale which touches communism and reminds me of The Running Man.  Although this is quite a unique story so cannot be compared in any way to the film. 

Collins is very clever she has so many characters – which is good seeing many get killed off.  But I’m amazed at how she keeps track of them all without confusing the reader.  No point throughout the books did I stop to think “Who the hell is he?”.  I felt myself drawn into the story, it’s so realistic, very fast paced.  It took me a while to get used to the chapter formatting, normally the end of the chapter would signal the end for that section and move onto something else.  Sometimes ending at a mini cliff hanger which gets resolved later on in the book.  But these books are so linear that it flows from chapter to chapter which creates the fast pace.  This is a good thing mainly as the story is so intense I don’t think I would have been able to handle the content as well as cliff hangers which get resolved later on – I would be just too confused!

It’s great to finally have a trilogy where the leading lady isn’t a dithering coward – Katniss has a conscious, might not make the right decisions, but she’s also a strong character.  I can’t wait to watch the film – I’ve been putting it off as I like to read the book before watching films. 

I’m rating this as a must read – but be warned you’ll be sucked in and it’ll leave you questioning things you’ve never questioned before!

 

Unmasking Maya – Libby Mercer

Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced…
 
Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She’s offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?
 
Not so much.
 
She can’t stand Derek Whitley – wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.
 
As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?
Thank you to the author Libby Mercer, for sending me a copy to review before the release date.  I loved this book, it has everything.  The secrets keep you guessing, and the build up as Maya and Derek get to know each other is fantastic.  I was sad to finish it, but in a good way.  You really get to know Maya the main character and some of the situations she’s in is quite funny.  She can be quite feisty, speaking her mind which I love.  I read it really quickly and was left wanting more.  Unmasking Maya is a fascinating page turner where you’ll find yourself warming to the characters.  It’s really well written with great attention to detail – I couldn’t put it down.  Make sure you get yourself a copy when this is released on the 15th December – for me it’s a must read.

When I Fall In Love – Miranda Dickinson

Elsie Maynard never expected to be starting again… 

…but eighteen months on from the biggest challenge of her life, she is doing just that –because she made a promise to the person who believed in her the most. 

Determined to step into her uncertain future, Elsie meets handsome Oliver Hogarth, who seems intent on winning her heart; she inadvertently founds a choir, and overcomes obstacles – most of which involve arrogant Torin Stewart. 

Then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the final item on ‘The List’ that she never dared complete. 

Can Elsie follow her heart and put her past to rest?

 

When I Fall In Love is the latest moving read from Miranda Dickinson.  It will make you cry, laugh and feel part of the story.  The reason why Elsie is starting again is withheld from the reader at the beginning of the book.  This unusual choice allows the reader to warm to Elsie without feeling sorry for her.  And warm to her I did.  I could relate to her location, Brighton is very close to where I live and have spent many a weekend there either shopping, browsing the Laines and best of all enjoying the nightlife.  Careful consideration has been taken to set the scene.  Miranda uses excellent descriptions that even if you weren’t familiar with Gardner Street you get a flavour through what is written for just what it’s like.  The story itself was refreshing.  You have your usual chick lit format but how Elsie gets there is so different to many books I’ve read, which seem to follow the same girl meets boy, boy does something which upsets girl, boy redeems himself and then they both live happily ever after.  The first thing that jumps out is that Elsie had her chance of living happily ever after torn away from her, and because of this it has the possibility of ensuring she’ll never get a happy ever after.

How can it be a Miranda Dickinson book without something to do with music or being creative being a big part of the story?  Elsie starts up a community choir which is a fabulous idea and really makes me want to get out there and join a Glee like club so I can live out my Rachel-esq fantasy.  I felt part of the book in a way, I think mainly due to my connection with Brighton – I drive the A27 nearly on a daily basis.  And the idea of the list is fantastic – it’s inspired me to do a bucket list.  I loved this book and rate it a Must Read.

The Dating Game – Susan Buchanan

 

Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her. Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert. 
She realises she has to act, as work keeps piling up and at this rate she will have retired before she has time for a relationship.
Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. She quickly discovers men are like buses. They all come along at once. Unsure what her type is, Gill decides to keep her options open. Soon she has problems juggling her social life as well as her work diary. Will she ever strike the right balance?
Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

 

Thank you to the author, Susan for sending me a copy of The Dating Game to review.  I really enjoyed Susan’s first book Sign of the Times and couldn’t wait until her second book was released.  I wasn’t disappointed; The Dating Game is just as good as if not better!  The descriptions are spot on and the characters are so well written that I related to them.  I loved the Barcelona bit, as the city holds happy memories for me, so reliving my last visit through the girls was great.  Susan is obviously a foodie – I wish I was there having tapas with the girls.  Or eating one of the yummy sounding dishes Gill eats on her dates.  I devoured this book quite quickly.  It’s a real page turner with a twist to the plot which I’m rating as a must read.

Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture – Sylvain Reynard

 With all the obsessive yearning of Twilight

the intensity of Fifty Shades

 and this time, written by a man

Gabriel’s Inferno

 and the sinfully seductive sequel

Gabriel’s Rapture

 BY SYLVAIN REYNARD

 Ebook – 11th September 2012 – £2.99

 Paperback Original 11th October 2012 £7.99

Two tortured souls and a wildly romantic tale of forbidden passion

The Gabriel’s Inferno series is the next erotic romance sensation that is storming the world and the New York Times Bestseller list with sales totalling over 80,000 copies on first US publication. It is no surprise that both eBooks have already gone straight into the UK top 10 iBookstorecharts. This book plunders the most erotic and sensual depths of Sylvain’s imagination. Be prepared to be utterly seduced.

He was a tortured teen and it was the night he thought he had been saved by an angel. For Julia, it was a beautiful night of firsts and one she could never forget. Her first beer, the first time she held a boy’s hand, her first kiss … the first time she had felt loved. Purity meets sin in a perfect moment that meant everything to her. But she wakes up alone. Terrified and rejected, she knows she will never see him again.

Gabriel Emerson is a man tortured by his dark past. A highly respected university professor, Gabriel uses his devilish good looks and notorious powers of seduction to lead a secret life of pleasure where nothing is out of bounds.

 Sweet and innocent, Julia Mitchell enrols as Gabriel’s graduate student. His immediate attraction to her and their powerful and strange connection threatens to derail his career. Wildly passionate and sinful, Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture explore the intense power of forbidden love.

One man’s salvation, one woman’s sexual awakening

Who is Sylvain Reynard?

 Sylvain Reynard is a Canadian writer with an interest in renaissance art and culture and an inordinate attachment to the city of Florence. Sylvain is interested in the way literature can help us explore the human condition, particularly suffering, sex, love, faith and redemption. His favourite stories are those in which a character takes a journey – either a physical journey to a new and exciting place, or a personal journey in which he or she learns something about himself/herself. Sylvain is also interested in how aesthetic elements such as art, architecture, and music can be used to tell a story or to illuminate the traits of a character. In Reynard’s writing, all of these elements are combined, along with the themes of forgiveness and the transformative power of goodness.

 Find out more about Sylvain at http://www.sylvainreynard.com

Many thanks to Katie Sheldrake at Penguin for sending me these books for review.  Now I’ll put my hands up and say that I don’t read many books written by men.  I do find that some books written by men aren’t in a style I enjoy nor can they write about women realistically.  But no, not Sylvain Reynard – he can write more of this please.  I was a bit apprehensive about whether this book would be good enough.  The press release above states that Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture have all the obsessive yearning of Twilight and the intensity of Fifty Shades.    I really enjoyed Twilight however I did get a bit annoyed that a leading lady being portrayed as a clumsy, weak woman – whilst Edward could be the overpowering controlling man.  I found the Fifty Shades trilogy an interesting read; let’s face it the book was a real eye opener and as a standalone story was good.  But once you realise its fan fiction for Twilight you start noticing the similarities in the plot lines, characters and writing.

 For me Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture were different.  There are only slight similarities between this series and Twilight.  A forbidden romance, the difficulties they face and sacrifices made.  Julia is similar to Bella, she can be clumsy.  She’s incredibly shy in contrast to Bella, the reason why becomes apparent in the first book.  Gabriel is more Christian Grey than Edward, just without the extreme sexual appetite.  He’s very old fashioned in dress sense and manners.  The way he wants to protect and care for Julia is very controlling.  Together they help each other.  The danger they face is similar to Twilight where should their relationship between student and professor be found out it would ruin both of them.

 I really enjoyed the books; don’t be expecting wild sex from the beginning.  I did get a bit annoyed at the reference to what each moment reminds the character of. “This reminds me of…” but I think that was because I didn’t have the knowledge of what they were referring to.  I was a bit lost with the Dante references, but the book taught me about Dante and also has a very good message to give to the reader about relationship and morals.  This for me is my book of the month – a must read, I really really hope that there is going to be a third.  To read a Q&A with the Author, Sylvain Reynard click here: http://www.penguin.co.uk/static/cs/uk/0/static/penguin_extracts/gabriels_inferno.html

Chloe – Freya North

Chloë Cadwaller’s godmother’s dying wish was for her goddaughter to travel the four countries of the United Kingdom – one in each season of the year. Join Chloë on the adventure of a lifetime as she learns to celebrate the beauty of Britain and discover love, lust, life (and a man for each season).

Ah, another Freya North original.  I’m working my way through the whole back catalogue.  The early books have been re-released with updated artwork so I’m taking the opportunity to re-read.  Freya’s writing style is second to none, she has such a way of writing Chick Lit Romance without making it seem trashy or off putting.  Her humorous, witty attention to detail is refreshing – which is funny really seeing this book is about fifteen years old!  You always know what to expect with a Freya North novel.  Not in a bad way, you expect to be hooked from the first page, you expect to warm to the leading lady and falling in love when she does.  And most of all you expect to be transported to another life, which for me is why I read.  I enjoy the escapism, the questions it makes me ask about my own life as well as inspiration it provides.  Such an uplifting read, I always feel so empowered once I’ve finished 🙂

I’m rating this as a must read – more Freya North re-read reviews to come soon.  That new Rowling book has caught my eye.  I’m off to read it next.

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