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My Not So Perfect Life By Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life‘My Not So Perfect Life’ is the latest book by Sophie Kinsella.

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed. Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they? Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

I’ve been a fan of Sophie’s books for years, one of her books ‘Can You Keep A Secret’ is one of my favourite books, so when I received a copy of ‘My Not So Perfect Life’ I was eager to delve in and see what Sophie’s latest book had to offer.

In this book, we meet Katie/Cat, a young woman who has moved from the wild countryside to the bright lights of London, hoping for a successful career in marketing but there’s one snag, her job hasn’t turned out as her expected, low income, huge pressure and a demanding boss, Cat’s life is far from the perfection she posts on Instagram. But, when she’s suddenly let go, Cat’s world falls apart and she finds herself in limbo. Unsure of what to do next, she returns home to her father and stepmother, claiming she’s on a sabbatical and ends up using her skills and talents to help her parents create the perfect glamp site and her wealth of knowledge makes the site a huge success but when her boss Demeter turns up, sampling the delights of Ansters Farm Country Retreat, Cat has to pretend to be someone else so her parents don’t find out she has lost her job, but she can use it all to her advantage as she treats Demeter to some new upcoming exercises and activities to avenge her redundancy.

I absolutely loved this book, it was the perfect book to curl up with. The story has a wonderfully warm and relatable lead that made reading this story so enjoyable.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Cat/Katie, a young woman following a dream, working for an enviable company that many people would love to work for. Her boss Demeter, is ditsy but she’s sharp and sees what’s on trend and Cat hopes that she can catch Demeter’s attention with her ideas but sadly that doesn’t work when Cat is dealt a bitter blow with being let go. Instead of crying into her porridge, she sees it as an opportunity to prove her potential with the set up of her parents glamp site.

I thought Cat as an inspirational young woman, she’s determined, driven and wants nothing more than to work in the creative field and uses her redundancy as a positive instead of a negative. But like any other human being, when she sees the opportunity to get back at Demeter for firing her, she seizes it with entertaining and funny results.

The book is filled with many fun and lovely characters, Cat’s father regularly has quick fire business ideas that often end in disaster, but with Cat’s help is proving to be a success, whilst Demeter is also showing that her life is also far from perfect. Portraying the glamorous and ideal life in the office, it’s a different story when she turns up to the farm with a distracted husband and two sully children. In these scenes, I felt a sympathy towards Demeter as she struggled to fit in and deal with the drama around her. Alex plays the handsome lead in the story, a charismatic and influential young man who Cat finds herself drawn to.

A fun and engaging story that made for delicious reading, filled with relatable characters and hilarious scenarios, I couldn’t put it down. A fresh story that truly is Sophie at her very best, with laugh out loud moments and a fabulous leading lady, ‘My Not So Perfect Life’ is the perfect pick me up book that proves that with a bit of creativity and hard work, dreams can come true.

You can buy My Not So Perfect Life and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Ross Armstrong Writers Tip

Ross ArmstrongAuthor of ‘The Watcher’, Ross Armstrong shares his writing tips for aspiring authors.

Throw out the idea of writing a great line. Come up with a great structure. Test it over and over again. Chip away at it until it’s a perfect statue. Make sure it’s clear but surprising. Then write a clear and surprising first chapter. Re draft it a hundred times until it’s the most clear and surprising and enticing and true to you it can be.

Cover Reveal – The Secrets Of Ivy Garden By Catherine Ferguson

The Secrets Of Ivy GardenThe cover has been revealed for Catherine Ferguson’s new book, ‘The Secrets Of Ivy Garden’ and it’s a pretty one.

What the back cover says

When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…

This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.

You can pre-order The Secrets of Ivy Garden from Amazon and will be available to buy from 3rd April 2017.

If Ever I Fall Book Tour – Extract

If Ever I FallToday, I’m hosting the book tour for S.D Robertson’s, emotional new book called ‘If Ever I Fall’ and I’ve got an extract for you lucky people to enjoy.

Dan stood at the lounge window of his crappy flat and watched the snow overwhelm the communal garden. It was coming down thick and fast: a torrent of fat flakes racing each other to the ground.

Getting into the office tomorrow – deadline day, of course – would be a nightmare, although better from here in the suburbs than it would have been from out at the house. Then, once he got to work, he’d have to squeeze in all those weather-related stories: the sledging snaps; the inevitable school closures; the traffic chaos.

Perfect weather for Valentine’s Day. How romantic for all those lovebirds, he thought, envious of their happiness. There was a time, long ago, when he and Maria used to be like that: a happy young couple out on a date to celebrate Valentine’s. He could even remember the two of them walking home through falling snow one year, early on in their relationship, arm in arm and stuffed with expensive restaurant food.

Back then, they had been utterly content in each other’s company. It made Dan’s head hurt to think how great they used to be together. It gave him hope that they could still fix things, while also frustrating the hell out of him that they’d drifted so far apart. Once upon a time people used to call them the perfect couple. With hindsight, Dan could see why: they’d had that magic combination of being in love as well as best friends. They’d enjoyed a lot of the same books, films, pubs, clubs and restaurants. They’d largely liked and disliked the same people – and realised they didn’t need or want a big social group, since they were both happiest when it was just the two of them. And when their views had differed, such as on the topic of religion, each had respected the other’s opinion rather than trying to change it.

That was a million miles away from where they’d ended up. And whether it was snowing or not, Dan knew for sure that neither of them would ever again view Valentine’s Day the way they once had.

February the fourteenth was Sam’s birthday. Everything else paled into insignificance. She should have been turning sixteen. They should have been celebrating her milestone as a family. Instead, she was gone.

Absent again on her special day. Frozen in time. Fourteen forever, like the date.

Dan walked over to the coffee table and poured himself another drink from the open bottle of vodka. He’d not even bothered to replace the lid. What was the point? He’d be drinking it all tonight. And whatever else it took.

The pain was always there. It never left him. But days like this tore at the wound; they poked and prodded at it, allowing no respite.

He’d barely done a thing at work. Even Maurice hadn’t been able to keep up with all his cigarette breaks. Several people had asked if he was all right, sensing that something was wrong; he’d said he was fine, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. And then at 2 p.m., unable to bear it any more, he’d left for a fictional hospital appointment.

It was 6.30 p.m. now. He’d been drinking for four hours: first in a quiet corner of a local pub and then, once the after-work crowd arrived, he’d returned here. Not home. He couldn’t bring himself to call it that. He still held out hope that he’d be able to reconcile with Maria and move back to his real home. He had to believe that was possible for the sake of his own sanity.

If only Maria was on the same page. Last week she’d flown off the handle because he’d not found time to call in and fix a leaking tap in the downstairs bathroom.

You can buy If Ever I Fall from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Who’s That Girl? Book Tour – Extract

Who's That Girl? PaperbackOn the book tour for the paperback release of Mhairi McFarlane’s fabulously fun and hilarous book called ‘Who’s That Girl?’, I’ve a taster from the book, so sit back and enjoy.

‘Ladies and gentleman, sorry about the delay. . .’ said the groom into the microphone at last.

Jack’s slightly anaemic speech ticked off the things it was supposed to do, according to the internet cheat sheets. He said how beautiful the bridesmaids looked and thanked everyone for being there. He read out cards from absent relatives. He thanked the hotel for the hospitality and both sets of parents for their support.

When he finished with the pledge: ‘I don’t know what I did to deserve you, Charlotte. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make sure you don’t regret your decision today,’ Edie almost knocked back the flute of toasting champagne in one go.

The best man Craig’s speech was amusing in as much as it was horribly misjudged, with gag after gag about the varying successes of Jack’s sexploits at university. He seemed to think these tales were suitable because ‘We were all at it!’ and they were, ‘A bloody good bunch of chaps.’ (Jack went to Durham.) At the mention of a rugby game called ‘Pig Gamble,’ Jack snapped, ‘Perhaps leave that one out, eh?’ and Craig cut straight to, ‘Jack and Charlotte, everyone!’

The bride had a nervous fixed grin and her mum had a face like an arse operation.

Charlotte’s chief bridesmaid, Lucie, was passed the micro- phone.

Edie had heard much of the legend of Lucie Maguire, from Charlotte’s awed anecdotes in the office. She was a ruthlessly successful estate agent (‘She could sell you an outdoor toilet!’), mother of challenging twins who were expelled from pre-school (‘they’re extremely spirited’) and a Quidditch champion. (‘A game from a kid’s book,’ Jack had said to Edie. ‘What next, pro Pooh Sticks?’)

She ‘spoke as she found’ (trans: rude); ‘didn’t suffer fools gladly’ (rude to peoples’ faces) and ‘didn’t stand for nonsense’ (very rude to people’s faces).

Edie thought Lucie was someone you wouldn’t choose as your best friend unless there’d been a global pandemic extinc- tion event, and probably not even then.

‘Hello, everyone,’ she said, in her confident, cut-glass tones, one hand on her salmon silk draped hip: ‘I’m Lucie. I’m the chief bridesmaid and Charlotte’s best friend since our St Andrews days.’

Edie half expected her to finish this sentence: ‘BSc Hons, accredited by the NAEA.’

‘I’ve got a bit of a cheeky little surprise for the happy couple now.’

Edie sat up straighter and thought really? A wedding day surprise with no power of veto? Oof…

‘I wanted to do something really special for my best friend today and decided on this. Congratulations, Jack and Charlotte. This is for you.

Oh, and to make the song scan, I’ve had to Brangelina you as “Charlack”, hope that’s OK, guys.’

Song? Every pair of buttocks in the room clenched.

‘So, on one, two, THREE . . .’

The other two – blushing, literally – bridesmaids simultaneously produced handbells and started shaking them in sync. They wore the expressions of people who had come to terms with their fate a while ago, yet the moment was no less powerfully awful for it.

Lucie began singing. She had a good enough voice for a cappella, but it was still the shock of a cappella that was sending the whole room into a straight-backed, pop-eyed rictus of English embarrassment.To the tune of Julie Andrews’ ‘My Favourite Things’, she belted out:
Basset hounds and daffodils and red Hunter wellies Clarins and Clooney films on big HD tellies Land Rover Explorers all covered in mud These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!

Edie found it hard to comprehend that someone thought this fell into the category of a good idea.That there’d been no shred of doubt during the conceptual process. Also, ‘Charlack’ sounded like a Doctor Who baddie. A squirty one.

Cotswolds and cream teas and scrummy brunches Meribel and Formula One and long liquid lunches These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!

Fresh paint and dim sum and brow dyes and lashes Rugger and Wimbledon and also The Ashes These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!

Edie couldn’t risk her composure by glancing at Louis, who she knew would be almost combusting with delight. The top table simply stared.

. . . When the work bites!

When the phone rings!

When they’re feeling totes emosh

They can simply remember these totes fave things and then they won’t feel so grooosssssss

Edie held her expression steady as Lucie fog-horned the last word, arm extended, and hoped very hard this horror was over. But, no – Lucie was counting herself into the next verse.

In the brief lull, the hearing-aid man could be heard speaking to his wife.

‘What IS this dreadful folly? Who told this woman she could sing? My God, what an abysmal din.’

Lucie carried on with the next verse but now the room was transfixed by the entirely audible commentary offered by hearing-aid man. He apparently didn’t realise that he was shouting. Desperate shushing from the wife could also be heard, to no avail.

‘Good grief, whatever next. I came to a wedding, not an amateur night revue show. I feel like Prince Philip when he’s forced to look at a native display of bare behinds. Oh nonsense, Deirdre, it’s bad taste, is what it is.’

The spittle-flecked shhhhhhhh! of the spousal shushing reached a constrained hysteria, while laughter rippled nerv- ously around the room.

Edie could feel that Louis had corpsed, his whole body convulsing and shaking next to her.

Ad land and glad hand and smashing your goals Jet planes and chow mein with crispy spring rolls Tiffany boxes all tied up with ribbon
These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave thiiiinggssssss

‘. . .Will this ordeal ever end? No wonder this country’s in such a mess if this sort of vulgar display of your shortcomings is considered suitable entertainment.What?Well I doubt anyone can hear me over the iron lung yodellings of Kiri Te Canary. This is the sort of story which ends with the words, “Before Turning The Gun On Himself.”’

Edie didn’t know where to look. Having the heckler on her table made her feel implicated, as if she might be throwing her voice or feeding him lines.

Edie’s eyes were inexorably drawn to Jack, who was staring right back at her, palm clamped over mouth. His eyes were dancing with: what’s happening, this is insane?!

She might’ve known – he not only found this funny, he singled Edie out to be his co-conspirator. Edie almost smiled in reflex, then caught herself and quickly looked away. Oh no you don’t. Not today, of all days.

Just nipping to the loo, Edie muttered, and fled the scene.

Did that wee taster leave you bursting to know more? You can buy Who’s That Girl? from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.