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It Started With Paris By Cathy Kelly

It Started With Paris‘It Started With Paris’ is the latest book by Irish author, Cathy Kelly.

It all started with Paris. At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland. Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it. And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband. After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake?

Cathy Kelly was another new Irish author that I discovered this year and even though it seemed to take me a long while to finish it, I did enjoy the Irish tale.

The story sweetly starts as a young man proposes to his girlfriend at the top of the Eiffel Tower, it then flows on with much excitement and preparation for the big day, but doesn’t flow as smoothly as Michael and Katy initially expected, when they return back to Ireland.

The book revolves around the lives of Grace Rhattigan, a divorced headmistress who’s life revolves her two children, newly engaged Michael and tomboy sister Fiona. She has never really looked at another man since her ex husband Stephen. Leica Martin, Katy’s best friend who’s heart is only beginning to heal after her husband Tynan walked out on her and she throws her life into her busy job. Vonnie Reilly is an American baker who has moved to the small town, a promise to her deceased husband, she has fallen in love with Ryan and looks forward to a new beginning with him but this proves impossible with his ex wife Jennifer Morrison causing trouble for the couple.

This story is quite a captivating story that flows along at a leisurely pace. As the story is seen from various perspectives, it gives an insight into relationships spanning different generations and how they developed and went wrong. I liked all the characters but there was no-one that I particularly preferred, they were all unique in their own ways.

Grace was fun and easy going, she occasionally missed the company of a relationship but never went looking for one. Her primary love was her children not only at home but at the school. I enjoyed Leila, whilst nursing a broken heart, her mother has a fall and whilst recuperating, Leila was left in charge of her dog Pixie and I thought these scenes with the dog and Leila and how unused to a dog she was made for lovely lighthearted reading. Vonnie is baking Katy’s cake and she’s used to demanding brides but one she isn’t used to is angry ex wives determined to wreck her relationship, Jennifer Morrison is a volatile woman who won’t let her husband go easily even though he ended the relationship before he met Vonnie. Jennifer was definitely my least favourite character of the story, self absorbed and petulant, she was caught up in her own world unaware of the pain she was causing to those around her particularly her oldest daughter Ruby, who was bearing the brunt of Jennifer’s grief.

I enjoyed this story, I liked the gentle flow of the narrative and dialogue particularly some of the Irish way of talking which I could relate to. It was warm and humorous in parts and could definitely be a book that could be read at any age.

With a beautifully glittery designed cover of the Eiffel Tower, ‘It Started With Paris’ is an enchanting story and with a delightful and unexpected twist at the end, I will definitely be looking into Cathy’s other books.

You can buy It Started With Paris from Amazon and is avaiable to buy from good bookshops.

My 10 Favourite Books Of 2014

Favourite Books 2014It’s that time of the year where I announce my favourite books of the past twelve months and I have to admit, it’s been particularly hard as 2014 has been a great year for books.

This year it was incredibly hard as I’ve read so many charming and poignant stories and so after much sitting and contemplating for quite some time, I reveal to you my ten books of 2014.

‘Leaving Time’ by Jodi Picoult
‘What Milo Saw’ by Virginia McGregor
‘Waiting For Doggo’ by Mark B. Mills
‘The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes’ by Anna McPartlin
‘Spare Brides’ by Adele Parks
‘The Third Wife’ by Lisa Jewell
‘Us’ by David Nicholls
‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ by Mhairi McFarlane
‘The Unfinished Symphony of You And Me’ by Lucy Robinson
‘The Memory Book’ by Rowan Coleman

Let me know if you agree or have any additions.

Scarlett Bailey

Scarlett BaileyScarlett Bailey has loved writing stories since childhood. Before writing novels she worked as a waitress, cinema usherette and bookseller. Scarlett also writes novels under her real name Rowan Coleman. Currently she lives in Hertfordshire with her husband, five children and a very large collection of beautiful shoes.

  1. To the readers of the website, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
    Hello, I’m Scarlett Bailey, and I and the not very secret alter ego, of Novelist, Rowan Coleman, although I am younger and prettier then she is, and I am a better disco dancer.
  2. You write under the pseudonym of Scarlett Bailey. What is the difference in Scarlett’s and Rowan’s writing?
    Well, I write really fun, whimsical, romantic comedies, that have lots of charm and heart, and hot men and kissing. Rowan writes books that a little more thoughtful and serious, though there’s still humour and kissing.
  3. What’s the best thing about being a Christmas writer?
    Being able to eat mince pies from July as research.
  4. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    Nothing, honestly. I really mean that. You have to try and write, learn your craft, read a lot of books, have a life, think about the reasons you want to write (never do it for money or glory, there’s not much of that) take the ups with the down, the rough with the smooth, the stubble with the clean shaven.
  5. What do you enjoy most about Christmas?
    Chocolate Oranges. And buying presents for other people, I like to try and get something that will make their eyes light up.
  6. What book did you read that made you decide to become an author?
    I don’t think there was one book, I think there were hundreds, maybe thousands. But I suppose actually, when I read ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby, I thought, ‘Oh that’s the kind of writer I’d like to be.
  7. What is the hardest part of the writing process?
    The middle bit, where it feels like walking through treacle.
  8. If your latest book ‘Two Weddings And A Baby’ was adapted for screen, who do you imagine playing the roles of Tamsyn and Jed?
    Good question!!! I don’t know, actually…. what do the readers think?
  9. What’s been the proudest moment of your writing career to date?
    Well, that Rowan Coleman’s latest book ‘The Memory Book’ has been selected for the Richard and Judy Book club Autumn selection, which was pretty, pretty special. She hasn’t shut up about it.
  10. Who is your favourite literary hero/heroine?
    Jane Eyre, I love her.
  11. Was there ever a book that left you disappointed?
    Many, but I’m too classy to name them here.
  12. 12. And finally Scarlett, do you have any new projects coming up on the horizon?
    I am thinking about two more novels based around the Thorne Family, there are two more sisters that have stories yet to be told, brilliant Cordelia and wonderful Keira.

Follow Scarlett Bailey on Twitter Scarlett Bailey for updates or check out her website at Rowan Coleman

Saving Grace By Jane Green

Saving Grace‘Saving Grace’ is the latest book by Jane Green.

Grace Chapman has the perfect life, living comfortably with her husband, bestselling author Ted, in a picture-perfect farmhouse on the Hudson River in New York State Then Ted advertises for a new assistant, and Beth walks into their lives. Organized, passionate and eager to learn, Beth quickly makes herself indispensable to Ted and his family. But Grace soon begins to feel side-lined in her home – and her marriage – by this ambitious younger woman. Is Grace just paranoid, as her husband tells her, or is there more to Beth than first thought?

Jane Green is one of my favourite authors and I was delighted to receive a copy of her brand new book ‘Saving Grace’. Beautifully illustrated in soft shades of green and red, the book is most striking and definitely stands out on the shelves.

The story is written in the third person and is seen from the perspective of Grace, who is married to Ted. A once successful and bestselling author, who took the world by storm with his writing but now his writing isn’t as popular and he’s replaced by younger and fancier writers. Ted is everything that I dislike in a man, to the outside world and the press, he’s charismatic and approachable but behind closed doors, he’s arrogant, demanding and not quite the man Grace believed that she was marrying.

Grace had a hard life with her mother growing up, her mother battled mental illness, leaving Grace constantly on edge and this has developed further into adulthood. Particularly now that Ted’s assistant has left and Grace has been left on charge of his tasks and demands. It’s only when Grace and Ted meet Beth at an event, that Grace sees light at the end of the tunnel and immediately hires Beth to become Ted’s assistant. Grace is delighted that someone else is in charge and she can carry on with her first love which is cooking. But over time she sees a change in Beth, she begins to dress and behave like Grace and intent to step into Grace’s shoes even if Grace doesn’t want her to.

This book is a very dark story, gone are the days of love and romance, this story is about a woman jealous of another woman’s life and determined to wreck no matter the circumstances.

Grace is a strong leading lady even though she had a tough upbringing, she looks on the bright side of life and wants to help those less well off then herself, but she does let Ted walk all over her which is annoying. She worries about herself, that she will turn out like her mother and has kept her troubled childhood from Ted. Through the book, there are flashbacks to Grace’s past which gives us an insight to her life. Only one person really knows what her upbringing was like and that’s Robert, her best friends brother who she grew up with and who had a crush on her. As a teenager Grace spent her time in the middle of Robert’s family, she loved the hustle and bustle of his house and particularly his mother Lydia who made Grace feel like part of the family.

Beth is an interesting role, she seems perfect and sweet but we rapidly see a sinister side to her once she settles into new job and this can make for unsettling reading as she causes Grace to question her sanity.

Although this book is completely different to Jane’s previous stories, I did enjoy it and found myself absorbed in Grace’s life and urging her to sort it out. As Grace is a chef, there is the inclusion of recipes throughout the story in reference to the meals that she is creating. I did think it was a bit odd including this in quite a dark story.

My only complaint is that I thought the ending to the story was a bit too abrupt and that did leave me wondering “What now?”

An interesting story and a new direction for the author that does leave the reader wanting but sadly I felt it was not Jane at her best.

You can buy Saving Grace from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

I’ll Take New York By Miranda Dickinson

I'll Take New York‘I’ll Take New York’ is the latest book by Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson.

Have you ever given up on love?

When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain. Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there’ll just be one love in his life: New York. At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships. But the city has other plans.

Miranda has returned with another fun and heartwarming book, this time the story is set in the bustling cosmopolitan city of New York and follows the lives of English born Bea and American psychiatrist Jake Steinmann.

The story starts as Bea’s boyfriend Otis, lets her down for the last time at a family party and decides to call time on their relationship. She decides to concentrate and focus her time on her successful bookshop which is busy with on the run up to Christmas. She begins to enjoy nights out as a singleton and tries to stay away from good intending friends who try to set her up with friends until one night at an engagement party she runs into Jake. Like her, he has just come out of a marriage and is in the process of a messy divorce. Together the two of them come to a mutual understanding that relationships aren’t for them and create ‘The Pact’ which means that they will stay away from relationships and instead become firm friends. But things become a but messy for the two new friends when they start to have feelings for each other, especially when their exes reappear in their lives.

Just like all of Miranda’s previous books, I really enjoyed this story and like Bea found myself having a title crush on Jake, with his handsome looks and charming manner, Bea herself was lovely, having given up on love, she has come to the resolution that love isn’t for her and looks forward to a life alone. She was a bit of an idol for me, as I always dreamt of owning a bookstore, so I fulfilled my dream through this book and boy did I enjoy it! She finds solace in her grandmother’s letters from home, as they communicate back and forth sharing tales of broken hearts and confiding in each other. I thought this element of the story was very very sweet as her grandmother would send her a book and with a line underlined but would suit the content of the letter. Another element of the story that I really enjoyed was all the tourist attractions that Bea and Jake went to in the city. Having never been to New York, I found the book a really useful guide to places to check out when I visit. Helpful, informative and fun.

The story is a fun and romantic one, each chapter is seen through the eyes of Bea and Jake and the chapters are very short and snappy and very easy to get absorbed in. All the characters are lovely, although I did find Russ, Bea’s business partner a bit intense and her ex boyfriend Otis was extremely flakey. The story is also a bit of a sequel as it features Ed and Rosie from Miranda’s previous book ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and shows how far the couple have travelled since the book. But one thing I truly adored was the inclusion of a little girl called Bronagh, who wanted her birthday to be in the bookstore. On the lead up to the release of ‘I’ll Take New York’ Miranda told me that this little girl was based on me, after we had a Twitter conversation so I was so excited and proud to see my fabulous birthday in print!

A charming and beautifully written story set against the snowy backdrop of New York and presented with a very pretty cover. ‘I’ll Take New York’ is an enchanting story about new friendship, books and that it’s never too late for love to appear.

You can buy I’ll Take New York and is available to buy from good bookshops.