Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

The Blurb

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…

The Review

As a reader it takes a g-darn lot to impress me. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of books that I read but when a book comes along that blows my mind I have to give extra appreciation. For me, Disclaimer is such a book.

The story focuses around Catherine, an award winning investigative journalist. Her life is seemingly perfect. She is living with her husband Robert; her son Nick is living close by and she is respected in her field of work. However, when she starts reading a book that has mysteriously turned up at her house her perfect little life starts to crumble away.

The book tells her story. She knows she is the female lead and with each turn of the page more and more of her secret past is revealed.

What is truly great about this book (and for this we need to applaud the skill and mastery of writer Renee Knight) is that not only does she keep you guessing, not only does she throw in some major twists and turns but she also has that great ability to make you empathise with each character; even when you disagree with the way that they are acting or the decisions that they have made. To me, that takes real skill and shows the calibre of work the writer is capable of.

Disclaimer is not for the faint hearted. It is a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page and it is the sort of book that you will be itching for your friends to read just so you can have someone share in your shock and awe.

Disclaimer by Renee Knight is available now.

Disclaimer

Advertisements

Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Blurb

The international bestseller, translated from the German by Simon Pare.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.

The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

The Review

Firstly, I would like to thank Poppy Stimpson from Little Brown for sending me a review copy of The Little Paris Bookshop.

I will admit that I fell in love with the cover of this book which urged me to request a copy of it for review; the title also played a bit part. I love Paris and I love bookshops. This book seemed perfect for me. What I also got with this book is a medicine cabinet of cures. It simultaneously broke my heart and fixed it; made me smile and cry. The Little Paris Bookshop also made me feel content; the way a good book should. The Little Paris Bookshop is chock full of substance and style – it’s a double threat on that account.

The story centres around Jean and his life as a book seller or apothecary who owns a bookshop barge that sits placidly on the Seine. He is isolated but by choice until a new neighbour – the recently heartbroken Catherine – moves into his tenement and unknowingly forces him to confront his past; a past that has plagued him for the past twenty one years and forced him to live a life of solitude and grief. Having been knocked into action Jean Perdu sets out on a journey of discovery with a couple of friends and a couple of cats in tow.

Through this journey we see Jean Perdu grow, change and shed away some of the layers of coldness that he has used to keep people at arm’s length drop away. It is gorgeous to watch and to live each emotion with Jean.

This is the kind of novel that comes by once in a while and reminds you why you keep reading some of the poorer more hyped books; because every so often you come across a gem like The Little Paris Bookshop.

This is a story about the journey AND the destination. Both are intrinsic to the story and Nina George has not left you hanging on and wondering how it all ends. The story is complete and as you turn the final pages you will know that you have read something both magical and enchanting.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is available now.

Follow Nina George (@nina_george) on Twitter.

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Doris Day Vintage Film Club Extract

Chapter One

Nobody’s Sweetheart

When Claire Bixby was nine, she decided that one day she’d like to live in Hollywood, because she wanted to be in movies. Not that she wanted to be an actress. Far from it. No, Claire wanted to actually be in the movies, to live there, a place where the sun always shone, everything was Technicolor® bright and families lived happily ever after together. There would be no more shouting, no more crying. No hearing the front door slam, one parent leaving never to return—even if she’d discovered she could breathe out more easily after he’d left.

However, as all little girls do, Claire grew up, and she came to understand that nothing was what it seemed in Hollywood. The houses weren’t real. The outsides were just false fronts and the insides built on a sound stage, made up of plywood flats that could be wheeled around depending on where the camera needed to go. And while the sun might shine pretty regularly in California, she suspected that once the actors took off their make-up, they probably went home and shouted at the dog, or discovered their wife was cheating on them with her plastic surgeon, or maybe just went back to their mansion to sit there with the curtains drawn, wondering why their fabulous lives weren’t really that fabulous and if even one of the hangers-on who buzzed around them knew what their real name was.

So by the time Claire had turned thirty-four, she’d never once visited Hollywood, preferring to keep it a dim and distant bubble of fantasy she wasn’t quite yet ready to pop. As a travel agent, however, she did plan trips to Tinseltown for others, which was why on one sunny and rather muggy May morning, she hopped off the number fifty-six bus, thinking not only about the work of the day ahead but smiling slightly at the memory of her childhood naïvety.

She’d slowly been growing her business over the last two years and recently she’d taken the plunge and hired proper office space. It was only a couple of miles from where she lived in Highbury, North London. She’d moved into the premises two months ago, but she still loved turning the corner into an alley that led into a forgotten gem of a courtyard. Whilst most of the surrounding area had been levelled by the Blitz and had been reimagined into vast modern estates by some of Britain’s top architects during the sixties and seventies, a few narrow streets had survived and tiny pockets of nineteenth-century buildings nestled amongst the landscape of grey concrete and geometrical shapes.

Evidence of the old workshops and shopfronts still remained in Old Carter’s Yard. A couple of units were boarded up, yet to be renovated, but the others were filled with small businesses, many of which were wedding-related. It had started with a proposal-planning agency, of all things, and had grown from there. Now there was a bakery that did the most amazing five-tiered creations, a photographer’s studio, a stationer’s and even a wedding accessories shop, which did everything from garters and stockings to waterproof mascara for the big day and plastic tiaras for rowdy hen nights.

Claire walked across the cobbles carefully in her heels and smiled to herself as she saw the sign above the window. Far, Far Away. She still thought it was a great name for a travel agent’s, especially for one that specialised in romantic getaways, even though that hadn’t been part of the plan when she’d left her job as an advertising executive at Webster & Templeton and had set up an office in her living room.

She gave the window display the once-over before turning the key in the lock. The old-fashioned bay window of what had once been a fishmonger’s was now backed with a collage of elegant and romantic destinations: Paris, Venice, the Orient Express. A deserted Caribbean beach with a startling turquoise sea. A picture of a couple silhouetted by the sunset on the verge of what promised to be a meaningful kiss.

Knowing that brides-to-be were drawn to anything that hinted of weddings like a kleptomaniac to something shiny, Claire had draped white tulle around the window and had added a bouquet of silk flowers and a couple of wedding invitations. She’d then tossed a handful of rose petal confetti across everything, so it looked as if they’d been blown in by a soft wind. And at the bottom of the window in gold lettering it said, After the perfect wedding, the perfect honeymoon . . . Her post-wedding bookings had doubled since she’d opened up shop here.

She unlocked the door and stepped inside. Like many buildings in the Victorian courtyard, her shop stayed fairly cool in summer, but London was in the grip of a heatwave and this was the stickiest May on record for more than two decades. It had only been a short walk from the bus stop, but the back of her neck was already damp under her blonde bob and she could feel her tailored red shift dress sticking to her skin. Before she headed for her desk, she propped the door open to encourage fresh air to flow into the space.

She’d only just sat down in her office chair when she heard a rap on the glass of the open door. She looked up to find one of her fellow ‘wedding ghetto’ traders leaning against the jamb.

‘Hey,’ Peggy said, smiling. Today she was in all her vintage glory. Her platinum blonde hair was curled to resemble Marilyn Monroe’s and she wore a fitted pale pink dress covered with small white polka dots. The look was finished off with matching pink stilettos with spotty bows at the toes.

Claire had been friends with Peggy even before she’d rented the office in Old Carter’s Yard. It was through Peggy, who worked two doors down at Hopes & Dreams as a proposal planner, that Claire had discovered the shop space had been available to rent.

Claire smiled back. ‘Hi. Need help with a proposal?’

Peggy nodded and came and sat down in the chair opposite Claire. ‘Nicole asked me to pop down. We have a client who wants to pop the question—sunset at the top of the Eiffel Tower. That bit we can manage, but we’d like you to handle the first-class Eurostar tickets, and give us suggestions of half a dozen romantic hotels in Paris. He hasn’t got a five-star budget, but he’d like it if his fiancée-to-be didn’t guess that.’

Claire smiled. ‘I know some great little boutique hotels on the Left Bank, where you get a bit more pizazz for your euro. What sort of timescale are we looking at?’

‘Their anniversary is on the fourteenth of July. He’d like to do it then.’

‘No problem.’ Claire opened her browser and clicked through a couple of hotel websites. ‘I’ll have preliminary details to you by the beginning of next week.’

Peggy clapped her hands together and grinned. ‘You’re a star! And I’m so glad you took this office over. It’s so much more fun coming down for a visit than sending off a boring old email.’

‘I’m glad too.’ Carving a name for herself in the travel business had been hard. She needed a niche, she’d realised, and thanks to Peggy and Hopes & Dreams she’d found one. Six months after she’d started doing bookings for them she’d moved from general travel planning to concentrating on romantic trips of all kinds—proposals, honeymoons, special anniversaries.

She’d even planned a couple of holidays to help couples conceive. Okay, well, she didn’t actually help them conceive—that was up to them and God—but giving them some much-needed time together where they could relax and let nature take its course, that she could manage.

‘How about a Frappuccino?’ Peggy asked, nodding towards Sweet Nothings, the organic café and bakery just at the entrance to the yard.

Claire frowned. ‘It’s only ten past nine and you’re having a break? I thought you were supposed to be just “popping down”.’

Peggy’s smile didn’t fade one iota. ‘I’m still working,’ she said sweetly. ‘We’ll discuss the Paris trip while we slurp.’

Claire shook her head gently and considered Peggy’s temping offer. When she arrived for work in the mornings, she usually dived straight in and didn’t surface again until her stomach started to rumble, but this morning her throat was dry and a fine bead of sweat was tickling its way down between her shoulder blades. ‘Oh, go on then,’ she muttered.

Peggy sprung up from the chair, grinning harder. Then she held out her hand. It took Claire a couple of moments before she worked out what was going on. Rolling her eyes, she fumbled through her purse then dropped a ten pound note into Peggy’s hand. ‘I want change!’ she yelled after the polka-dotted figure that practically skipped out of the shop.

There can’t have been much of a queue in Sweet Nothings, she thought, because less than a minute later she sensed a presence in the doorway, hardly enough time to blend the ice, let alone dowse it in ice-cold milk and espresso. ‘I need to talk to you about the film club meeting tonight,’ she said, still looking at her computer screen. ‘How do you feel about being our new treasurer?’

A dark silhouette strode into the shop. ‘You know I’d do anything for you,’ a smooth deep voice said.

Claire’s head snapped up.

‘Treasurer of what?’ Doug Martin asked.

Claire shook her head. ‘Nothing you’d be interested in,’ she said, laughing. She saw enough of Mr Martin as it was. ‘Sorry, I thought you were someone else.’

He took a couple of steps into the office. ‘A boyfriend kind of someone else?’

Claire fought hard to keep her denial unspoken. She pasted on her best professional smile. ‘How can I help you, Mr Martin?’

He smiled at her indulgently. ‘Doug. I thought we agreed you were going to call me Doug.’

They had. And it did feel rather old-fashioned to be talking to a customer that way. He was a nice enough man, maybe a little closer to forty than she was, with an unthreatening, slightly boyish face.

‘Okay, Doug . . . What can I help you with?’

He didn’t have a chance to answer, because Peggy swept back in the door, a giant Frappuccino in each hand. She took one look at Doug and stopped in her tracks. ‘Oh, sorry . . . Didn’t realise you had company.’

Claire shot her a ‘save me’ look. Peggy just trotted over to the desk, popped Claire’s drink down two inches to the left of a coaster and whispered so Doug couldn’t hear. ‘Not a chance. Both you and I could do with a few more Y chromosomes in our lives.’

Claire’s brow lowered. You have him then, she mouthed.

Peggy gave her a dazzling smile and headed for the door. ‘I couldn’t possibly poach a client, but you never know . . .’ She blew a kiss at Doug, who received it gratefully. ‘If things go well, he might be knocking on my door soon anyway.’

Claire resisted the urge to throw the fountain pen sitting on her desk at Peggy and impale her to the doorpost with it. She did not need more Y chromosomes in her life. She’d only recently got free of one man and she wasn’t about to fill his space either quickly or indiscriminately.

And, as harmless as Doug was, he just didn’t float her boat. ‘So . . .’ she said, turning her attention back to him, hoping he hadn’t heard their muttered conversation. ‘Where do you want to go this time?’

Doug dropped into the chair Peggy had recently vacated and looked intently at her. ‘I think an island in the South Pacific.’

Claire looked over her shoulder at the world map that sat behind her desk. ‘Any bit of the South Pacific in particular? It’s a pretty big place, and there are thousands of islands.’

When she turned back, Doug looked deep into her eyes. ‘Somewhere secluded . . . romantic.’

‘Uh-uh.’ Claire nodded, but her eyes narrowed. She had a funny feeling she knew where this was going. She winced as she asked the crucial question. ‘How many travellers?’

He leaned even further forward and gave her a meaningful look. ‘I’d like it to be two. How about adding a wedding on a secluded white sandy beach beneath the palm trees?’

‘Doug,’ Claire said wearily ‘we’ve been through this before.’

He shrugged and shifted his weight so he was sitting firmly back in the chair. ‘You can’t blame a man in love for being hopeful, can you?’

Claire sighed. She’d like to, but the truth was she needed to build a customer base with more Dougs. Well, not exactly like him. She could do without the shameless flirting and the twice-weekly proposals, but she needed more repeat customers who kept coming back because she’d done such a good job the last time they couldn’t imagine booking a holiday without her. It was happening, but slowly.

‘No,’ she said, finally answering his question. ‘But I’ve told you before that I don’t love you, Doug. I hardly even know you.’ No matter how many hours he spent emailing or phoning each month. The downside of having a brand-new shiny office was that he now had the opportunity to moon over her in person.

‘Well, you could always make time to try to get to know me, ‘ Doug said. He brightened. ‘I know . . . Let’s forget the wedding and just do the honeymoon!’

Claire couldn’t help but laugh. There was something about Doug’s irrepressible optimism, at least, that was attractive. ‘Now, do you really want me to book this trip for you, or are you just wasting my time?’

His face fell and he sighed. ‘I really want you to book me the trip. Mother says the Cook Islands are on her bucket list and since her time in this mortal realm is coming to a close, I’d better take her there before the year is out.’

Claire smothered a smile. From what she’d gleaned about Doug’s mother, she suspected the old lady would outlive them all. ‘The Cook Islands . . . Now we’re getting somewhere.’ She stood up, walked over to a rack full of brochures, pulled one out and flicked to a page that showed the kind of luxury resort Doug’s mother would appreciate, then handed it to him as she sat down again. ‘What you need is to find a nice girl who likes to travel.’

And doesn’t mind a twenty stone chaperone with a blue rinse, she added silently.

Doug, to his credit, was already bouncing back from her refusal. ‘But you’re a nice girl. And you must like to travel, otherwise why become a travel agent?’

Well, he’d hit the nail on the head there, and there were more than a few destinations on her own bucket list that were still unticked.

‘I do like to travel. And I will . . . But I’ve been very busy getting the new premises up and running and all my time and energy has gone into that.’ And money, she added silently, but he didn’t need to know that, did he?

Anyway, she didn’t like to travel alone—not that she was about to take Doug up on his offer to be his Girl Friday on a deserted tropical island. She wasn’t that desperate. But the last time she’d been away was that horrible trip to Prague with Philip, the last-ditch attempt to do something romantic as their marriage had been falling apart. For some reason, hearing the rumble of case wheels in the pre-dawn quiet just didn’t seem as thrilling any more.

And she wasn’t about to fill the space he’d left behind just because she wanted someone to talk to on a long plane journey. She was enjoying her freedom too much. A few years of staying put in London was a small price to pay for being able to do what she wanted, to fly as high as she could, without those little comments, sharp and penetrating as sniper’s bullets, bringing her smashing back down to earth again.

‘Well, if you won’t come to Rarotonga with me, how about an evening out in the West End?’

Claire blinked and refocused on Doug. She sighed. ‘We’ve talked about dating too.’

‘Oh, it’s not a date,’ he said with a surprisingly straight face. Only the glitter in his eyes gave him away. ‘It’s a party.’

Claire opened her mouth to ask what the difference was, but he barrelled on.

‘Jayce Rider, the guy who took over the Hamilton Hotel and turned its fortunes around is a friend of mine. He likes to throw parties for people in the travel industry and he’s planning one a week tomorrow. I thought you might like to come with me. For purely business reasons, of course.’

She hesitated. Actually, she’d been looking to develop relationships with a couple of high-end London hotels, hoping to be able to give her treasured clients a little bit of luxury at a discount. The Hamilton would be perfect.

She kept her expression neutral as she looked at Doug. ‘I’ll think about it.’

He grinned back at her, reminding her of a puppy who’d been scolded only moments before, but was now wagging its tail, transgression already half forgotten. ‘I’ll pick you up at eight,’ he said, as he rose from his chair and saluted her farewell.

Claire half stood in her chair as he disappeared out of the door. ‘There’ll be ground rules!’ she yelled after him. He didn’t shout anything back, so she wasn’t sure he’d heard her, but, even if he had, she suspected he might find a way to circumvent them.

She let her bottom bump back down into her office chair and then slumped face first onto her desk. The morning was already so clammy that her cheek instantly stuck to the polished surface.

Was that what Doug’s little visit had been all about?

Had he used her guilt at saying no to an all-expenses paid honeymoon to manoeuvre her into saying yes to the party? Which she hadn’t actually done, she reminded herself, even though it felt as if she had.

She peeled her face off the desk and sat up, then stared at her computer screen, thinking she ought to book the whole blooming trip anyway—two tickets, first class but non-refundable, and twin rooms all the way so he had to share with his Gorgon of a mother. Hah! The cancellation fees alone would make him think twice before he pulled another stunt like that on her, before he started messing with her head—

She inhaled sharply.

Claire, you’re being paranoid.

Not every man she met was out to use her as a pawn in his twisted little games. She had to remember that.

She scrubbed her face with her hands and stared out through the open door across the courtyard to Sweet Nothings, and suddenly remembered her Frappuccino perched on the edge of the desk. Half the ice had melted and one side of the swirl of cream had sunk into the liquid, making it look like a rapidly fading iceberg. She took a sip anyway. It was warmer than she would have liked, but at least she wasn’t in danger of brain freeze.

After a couple of slurps of the cool liquid she began to feel a bit more normal again. She laughed softly at herself.

Stupid woman. Of course Doug wasn’t manipulating her. Everything he felt and thought was instantly written all over his face. He didn’t have it in him to scheme and push and lie. Doug Martin had that going for him at least.

The gravity of this revelation hit her. Her eyes opened wide as she reached the bottom of the Frappuccino and it made a loud vacuum-like sound. That meant Doug had one up on almost every other man who’d played a significant role in her life, which made him a much better prospect than she’d given him credit for.

Yikes. That was a seriously sad state of affairs.

She laughed again and shook herself as she aimed the empty Frappuccino cup towards the bin and scored a mental point for getting it in first time. She stood up and reached for her purse. Maybe she should go and get herself a fresh one. If she was starting to consider Doug Martin as prime boyfriend material, the heat of this sticky May morning was definitely getting to her.

 

Review: LA Nights by Lucy Lord

Title: LA Nights

Author: Lucy Lord

Pages: 37 Pages

The Blurb

A short story from the hilarious author of A Girl Called Summer – find out what Tamara was up to before her Ibiza adventures!

Tamara Gold was Hollywood’s biggest wildchild, but the time has come to settle down at last with the man of her dreams: Jack Meadows, hunk of the moment, has finally proposed. But now she has to meet his parents – the celebrated rocker, Filthy Meadows and his fiery wife, Maria Gonzalez – ex-groupie and tiger mother. Will Tamara be able to keep her cool with her future in-laws?

A cracking short story that takes place just before the events of A Girl Called Summer.

The Review

LA Nights by Lucy Lord is the short story of a celebrity lover’s dream. It has actors, musicians and groupies. It has sex, sandal and blackmail and all this happens in just 37 pages. Don’t be put off by the small amount of story because Lucy Lord has packed LA Nights with chock full of dramarama.

I bloody loved it.

LA Nights focuses on Tamara Gold – a stunning actress with a wild child reputation and the antithesis of what Maria Gonzalez wants for her son, Jack Meadows. So when the two announce their engagement Maria is livid and will stop at nothing to make things difficult for the couple.

Tamara knows she has a battle on her hands. Meeting the parents for the first time is tough but when you have a past that makes Drew Barrymore’s childhood look saintly Tamara knows she has to up her game.

LA Nights is the first in a series of short stories which is followed by a full novel and man oh man I cannot wait to dive into the rest.

LA Nights by Lucy Lord.

Follow Lucy Lord (@LucyLord1) on Twitter.

LA Nights

Review: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Boys) by Amy Spalding

The Blurb

Sneak out. Make out. Rock out.

Riley and her best guy friend, Reid, have made a pact: they’ll help each other pursue their respective crushes, make something happen, and document the details in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over a girl’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, the guy she’s been obsessed with forever. His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But between a chance meeting with a fellow musician in a record store and a brief tryst with a science-geek-turned-stud-not to mention Ted’s own tentative attentions-cute guys are suddenly popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! As their love lives go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid’s pact may prove to be more than they bargained for.

Filled with cute dogs, cute boys, and a few awkward hookups, this hilarious tale from Amy Spalding chronicles the soaring highs and embarrassing lows of dating in high school.

The Review

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is an entertaining YA novel that focuses on the life of drummer girl Riley who is completely butt-monkey in love with Ted Callahan. However, in her attempt to woo Mr Callahan happens to become embroiled in a variety of romantic trysts. All of which are great until Riley manages to actually snare Ted Callahan and then she has some serious decisions to make.

Throughout all of this, Riley is sharing her boy adventures with best friend Reid in a notebook. When this notebook goes missing, panic sets in and almost destroys everything.

Ok. Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) isn’t a book that is going to change your life but it will provide a few hours of entertainment. It is well written and Spalding has not relied on clichés to drive the story such as Riley and Reid realising that they liked each other all along. I would have found that extremely jarring.

Whilst the story was told from Riley’s perspective, the interludes from Reid were interesting and helped break up the narrative. I think this was necessary because there wasn’t a whole lot of rise and fall in the narrative. I felt that there were only two plot points that raised the narrative.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is an enjoyable read that focuses on the problems of a young adult. It is good but in the grand scheme of the books that I have read this is definitely a filler not a killer.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding is available now.

Kissing Ted Callahan

Ten Things that I Learnt from Grease 2

lisa talks about...

Ok. So this may be controversial to many people but I truly believe that Grease 2 is one of the greatest movies of all time. Ever. I don’t just mean better than Grease (although it evidently is way better than its predecessor) but better than most movies. By this I don’t mean that it is a technically brilliant film without laws or that the acting is in any way shape or form any good but it is one of those films, which for me, is just perfection. Here are the things that I learnt from watching Grease 2 and the many reasons why I love this movie.

1) I have learnt that singing the hearty chorus of Back to School will make you hate your employees if you work in a school but it will make going back after six week of being off for the summer that little bit…

View original post 930 more words

Review: The Doris Day Vintage Film Club by Fiona Harper

The Blurb

Claire Bixby grew up watching Doris Day films at her grandmother’s house and yearned to live in a world like the one on the screen – sunny, colourful and where happy endings with chiselled leading men were guaranteed. But recently Claire’s opportunities for a little ‘pillow talk’ have been thin on the ground. Until she meets mysterious Dominic. Nic is full of secrets but their connection is instant. Could he help Claire finding the Hollywood ending she’s been searching for?

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

The Review

Before I start this review I need to thank Cara Frances for sending me a review copy of The Doris Day Vintage Club.

I absolutely love that feeling, you know the one; the one that happens when you start reading a book and it physically pains you to put it down. This is exactly the feeling I got when I started reading The Doris Day Vintage Film Club. Initially, it was the title that made me want to read the book. I grew up watching Doris Day movies and absolutely loved the sense of class and style that she seemed to ooze so effortlessly. What a privilege it is for me to say that Fiona Harper has captured this same sense of dignity with her novel.

The story’s protagonist, Claire, has been hit by many of life’s obstacles. The death of her mother and her beloved grandmother, being abandoned by her father at an early age and more recently – getting divorced; yet she still manages to slap a smile on her face every day. Yes, you have guessed it; our heroine is much like Doris Day herself whose own personal story shows not only a Hollywood legend but a survivor too.

In a modern take on the classic Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie Pillow Talk we see Claire fall in love with Nic, a handsome if not sometimes hapless hunk of a man. However, as we know from the Doris Day classic things aren’t always what they seem.

I adored The Doris Day Vintage Film Society. It was a light hearted story that just captures you from the very first word. You fall in love with Claire and Nic and you desperately want them to be together. You can see that they are perfect for each other and you can see that their path to true love won’t be easy but it is the kind of book that makes you yell “kiss her, you fool!” at the male lead and “Forgive him, you donut.” at the heroine.

If warm hearted romances that are unputdownable are your cup of tea then you need to read this book.

Finally, I need to thank Cara Frances for sending me a review copy of The Doris Day Vintage Club.

 

The Doris Day Vintage Film Club by Fiona Harper is available now.

The Doris Day Vintage Film Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Fiona Harper (@FiHarperAuthor_) on

Twitter.

Also make sure that you check out the fabulous competition. You need to pin it to win it! Follow this link and you can win a vintage make over for you and a friend by top stylists, Lipstick & Curls.

Go to the following websites for more information.

Good luck!
http://on.fb.me/1HnmAIL
www.lipstickandcurls.net

Doris Day  Competition

 

Review: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Mas, Diwan, de Maigret & Berest

The Blurb

How To Be Parisian brilliantly deconstructs the French woman’s views on culture, fashion and attitude.

Bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, Anne Berest, Caroline De Maigret, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas cut through the myths in this gorgeous, witty guide to Parisienne savoir faire.

These modern Parisiennes say what you don’t expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain. They will take you on a first date, to a party and through a hangover. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, make your boyfriend jealous, the right way to approach weddings and the gym, and they will share their address book in Paris for where to go at the end of the night, for a birthday, for a smart date, for vintage finds and much more.

Full of wit and self-deprecating humour, How To Be Parisian explains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.

The Review

Anyone who knows me will know that I have been having a serious love affair with Paris for pretty much the entire length of my existence. I’ve travelled (not extensively) but I have yet to travel to a place which has the same style of class and attitude and sexiness as Paris does. Therefore, me reading a book on how to be Parisian seemed such a natural fit.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is sharp, sassy and poetic about the life of Parisian women; it debunks myths that we may have believed about the way they live their lives but equally enforces some of these “clichés.” The themes travel from love to fashion to food among a plethora of other things. It all comes across with a dismissive air that somehow fits the Parisian outlook. In total, it is just rather wonderful.

This is a must for those who like to travel; those who like style and class; and for those avid Francophiles out there.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest is available now.

How to be Parisian

Why I Love Libraries

I can’t remember the first time I went to a library; much in the same way that I can’t remember learning to read. However, both experiences have had a profound impact on the development of the person I have become.

My memories of the library I attended as a child are hazy. I went there so many times that all of them seem to blend into one. I remember the blue green lino that was permanently shiny and the tall bookshelves that housed centuries of stories. My mum went to the same library as a child and the floor was not upgraded in all the time that she or I went there. The shelves were a rich dark oak and I would spend hours upon hours perusing the shelves looking for that perfect find. It was in this library that I travelled to Amsterdam and hid in an attic with Anne Frank; I became friends with the Wakefield twins and I joined a club of babysitters. All this magic encased in a little yellow card.

The day I reached 12 and I was finally allowed to borrow books from the adult section of the library was like having the door to a whole new world opened to me. More than that I now was able to borrow 12 books instead of 6. This made me very happy.

When I started high school I was amazed to find that students could work in the school library. I made sure that I got the chance to do so. When I was told by English teacher, Head Librarian and now – more importantly – friend Shirley Donnelly that I had been selected to be a trainee librarian I was over the moon. I was fascinated by the order that books went on the shelves, the precision it took to back the books and also cataloguing them on the system. Yes, it may sound a little geeky but I was happy being where the books lived; I was home.

I have visited several libraries across my hometown of Liverpool and when I was on a recent trip to London with my boyfriend he took me to the British Library because he knew how absolutely in awe I would be of the capitals house of books; how enamoured I am by the written word. And whilst some of the libraries I have been to have blown me away – especially Liverpool Library for its absolutely gorgeous architecture and amazing Picton Reading Room – there is something special about my first library – Litherland Library.

Litherland Library unfortunately closed down a few years ago. Due to council cuts the libraries were seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. To me a library is more than just a place to borrow books; it is a social hub. It is a place where mums can go and take their children to get them excited about reading; it is a place for the elderly to socialise; for the retired person who no longer has the social aspect of a job anymore – it is a place to make friends. It is a place for those who don’t have access to computers to update their CV’s, apply for jobs, to keep in touch with friends across the globe. In my opinion, a library is central to any community.

When I think of my library memories I see a little girl  with long red pigtails sitting on blue green linoleum whose world has just fallen away as she starts to read the book before she has even had it issued to her and has already fallen in love with words on a page.

This is why I love libraries.