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The Wrong Knickers By Bryony Gordon

The Wrong Knickers‘The Wrong Knickers’ is Bryony Gordon’s debut book.

Bryony Gordon survived her adolescence by dreaming about the life she’d have in her twenties: the perfect job; the lovely flat; the amazing boyfriend. The reality was something of a shock. Her Telegraph column was a diary of her daily screw-ups; she lived in a series of squalid shoe boxes; and her most meaningful relationship of the entire decade was with a Marlboro Light. Here in THE WRONG KNICKERS Bryony busts open the glamorized myth of what it means to be a young (perpetually) single girl about London town, and shares the horrible and hilarious truth. The truth about picking up a colleague at the STI clinic; sinking into debt to fund a varied diet of wine, crisps and vodka; and how it feels when your dream man turns out to be a one night stand who hands you someone else’s knickers in the morning.

Bryony’s wonderfully ridiculous and ultimately redemptive story is essential reading for everyone whose ‘best years’ weren’t quite what they were expecting..

I found myself surprisingly empathising and relating to Bryony. Like her, i seemed to have reached a point in my life where everyone is pairing up and multiplying and I’m still trying to get to my to be read book pile in order. The book accounts her life from her twenties through to her thirtieth hence the title ‘Ten Years of Chaos’ and shows how manic life can get when drinks and drugs drink control.

After moving to London, Bryony is living the dream, a journalist living in squalid and cramped flats were housewarming parties usually resulted in carnage, Bryony is always the life and soul of the party, she is a tonic to her friends who are all growing up and away from her and they can live their lives vivicauously through her. Aware that she provides the entertainment for the group, she sinks even further in her drink and drug habit.

Bryony is a wonderful character, with an addictive personality, she makes everyone laugh which isn’t always her intention, as the only thing she truly wants in life is love and finds herself constantly attracting the wrong type of man. She lives a manic life and rarely seems to calm down flitting from one party to the next. Underneath the partying, lives a troubled soul that really wanted to sort herself out, battling eating issues and self esteem, she envies everyone around her. The story is told through the narrative of Bryony’s voice and it’s quite a witty and blunt read, with vivid descriptions of drug taking and wild parties, this book an eye-opening story is filled with delightful one liners, awkward moments and a leading lady that you just want to hug and have a drink.

An absurdly entertaining and riveting story that is well worthy of the hype that surrounds it, ‘The Wrong Knickers’ is enlightening and heartwarming story about one girl struggling to find her happy ever after.

You can buy The Wrong Knickers – A Decade of Chaos from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

It Felt Like A Kiss By Sarra Manning

The Little Beach Street Bakery‘It Felt Like A Kiss’ is the latest book by Sarra Manning,

Ellie Cohen has it all. A great job at a swanky Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family and really really good hair. Well, almost everything – there’s the mega-famous rockstar father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of challenging boyfriends (which she calls fixer uppers, her friends call losers) but nobody’s perfect. Then a vengeful ex sells Ellie’s secrets and a pack of lies to the press. Suddenly she’s no longer the girl most likely to succeed but a girl whose life is falling to pieces. Strategic damage limitation aren’t the three little words Ellie wants to hear so it’s just as well that falling in love is the last thing on her mind.

It took me a while to finish reading ‘It Felt Like A Kiss’ not because I couldn’t get into the book or because I didn’t enjoy it, it was purely because I started to watch the first series of ‘Mad Men’ and the first series of ‘The Bridge’ at the same time, which was probably a bad idea. So Sarra, sorry I am only getting around to this review now!

I loved this book and oddly enough felt that I could relate to the leading character Ellie with her family life and absence of a father. I loved Ellie, I enjoyed her sense of adventure and envied her glamorous lifestyle as well as her rockstar upbringing. A sweet character who always seems to see the best in people, I found her calmness in the bizarre situation almost admirable as if it had been anyone, I think we all had gone out looking for revenge! Especially when her father still wants nothing to do with her when story is out in the open.

As well as an entertaining lead, Ellie was fortunate enough to have a reliable and fun bunch of friends and family, keeping her sane and offering support through this tough time. Meanwhile, our hero of the story comes in the shape of David Gold, a high powered lawyer who Elle meets one day at Glastonbury. Caught off guard at the sudden frisson for attraction, he suddenly becomes her unlikely saviour and helper whilst the media are out to get her and portray her in the worst light possible.

As well as the main story, Sarra has cleverly added some flashbacks to the tale. These flashbacks are about her rockstar mother Ari relationship with Billy before he became famous and Ellie’s birth. I thought this was a particularly interesting back story and even though these parts were just snippets of stolen moments together, I thought it made the story even more interesting.

Prettily presented,’It Felt Like A Kiss’ is typical of Sarra’s writing, a romantic, quirky and witty story, that leaves the reader begging for more. Featuring sexy characters and scenes of a sexual nature that has the pages sizzling from sexual tension, this book was a thoroughly good read and if only I hadn’t got caught up in 60’s drama, I would have finished it in a heartbeat!

You can buy It Felt Like a Kiss from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Fiona Gibson

Fiona GibsonFiona Gibson is an author and journalist who has written for many UK publications including ‘The Observer’, ‘The Guardian’,’Marie Claire’, ‘Red’, ‘New Woman’, ‘Top Sante’ and ‘Elle’. She writes a monthly column for Sainsbury’s magazine and is a Contributing Editor at ‘Red’ magazine. Fiona lives in Scotland with her husband, their twin sons and daughter. ‘Pedigree Mum’ is her eighth novel.

  1. Your latest book,’Pedigree Mum’tells the story of piano teacher Kerry who moves to the seaside town of Shorling hoping for th e perfect life, but instead things drastically fall apart. What inspired you to write this type of story?
    It really started when we acquired a rescue dog a couple of years ago – I knew I wanted to write a book featuring a dog, and about a mum who’d been nagged half to death to get one – as I had, by my own daughter. It set me thinking, why would the mum finally agree? What kind of upheaval would the children gone through for her to want to make it up to them?
  2. To the readers of the blog, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    My background is in teenage magazines – I started working on the now-defunct ‘Jackie’ magazine straight from school, when I was 17. Over the years I also worked on ‘Just Seventeen’, ‘More!’ and ‘Bliss’, until I had my twin boys and decided to go freelance. Finally, as I no longer had a staff job on a mag, I felt I had the headspace to write a novel.
    Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    I’m ashamed to say I got really bored reading ‘Norwegian Wood’. Not enough happened for me. But I know so many people who love it! Perhaps it was a bit subtle for me – I’m not terribly highbrow. I like things to move along and I don’t have a huge amount of patience.
  3. What part of the writing process do you find the most difficult?
    Just keeping going, really. Starting a book feels great as it’s all new, fresh and exciting – and towards the end it’s fun to start tying eveything up, plus there’s the relief at nearly reaching the finishing post. The middle bit is tough though – by which I mean from about page 70-350… ie, most of it! Self doubt creeps in and there’s really no alternative than to grit your teeth and plough on.
  4. I always thought the opening lines to “The Lovely Bones” was quite memorable, are there any opening lines to books that stuck out to you?
    I’m pretty partial to the opening line of ‘I Capture the Castle’: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.’
  5. How do you feel about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you feel like it is an exciting time for authors?
    It’s now so easy to self publish and, in some ways, authors are gaining more control of how things are done. Traditional publishing is in a state of flux, but I hope that by selling both paperbacks AND ebooks, authors can still earn a decent living. I have no problem with readers buying my novels as ebooks, as I know how brilliantly convenient it is – I love my Kindle and have been reading so much more since I got it. It’s a great way to try out lots of new authors.
  6. What authors do you admire?
    I’ve always loved Anne Tyler, Lisa Jewell’s books always hit the spot for me, and I’m a big fan of India Knight too. ‘A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing’ by Melissa Bank is one of my favourite books – the writing is deceptively simple.
  7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
    It’s hard to say, as the most recent book publication always feels like the most exciting. But I’d probably say getting my first ever job on ‘Jackie’, then the one on ‘Just Seventeen’. I loved my years on teenage mags – it didn’t feel like working, and pretty much all of my close friendships were formed then. But getting my current publishing deal with Avon has been great too, as we just seem to have clicked and they’ve been brilliant.
  8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I’ll pick three books I’d be delighted to re-read – ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, ‘Ladder of Years’ by Anne Tyler, and ‘About a Boy’ by Nick Hornby which just made me laugh so much.
  9. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    It’s easy to become horribly self conscious – ‘Is this any good? Will anyone publish/buy this?’ And those thoughts can be really hampering and restricting. So anything you can do to write freely, without that self consciousness, will help your writing. I think it’s important to find a style and a voice, which feels authentic and that you feel comfortable with. A lot of it is instinctive – you know when it feels right, and the more writing you do – every day, ideally – the sooner you’ll arrive at that. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
  10. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A mug of decent coffee. I drink FAR too much of the stuff and cannot write without it. It’s better than the towering ashtray I used to have…
  11. And finally Fiona, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’m writing a novel for Avon – it has a sort of sugary theme and it’s about a woman in her late thirties who’s just dipping her toe back into the dating scene. She is sort of thrilled but terrified too, and her two teenage boys are completely scathing. It’s due to be finished by summer and is out in Feb 2014.

Read more about Fiona Gibson online or follow her on Twitter Fiona Gibson

The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

The First Last Kiss book cover“The First Last” is the second book by journalist Ali Harris.

This is the story of the love affair of Ryan and Molly, how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew that they would be together forever and six years later and thousands of kisses later, she is married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something for them, that neither of them ever predicted.

“The First Last Kiss” is the most beautiful most love story that I have read in a while. Ryan and Mollly are the ideal couple, they compliment each other and it was obvious from the start that everyone could see that there were perfect for each other. As we are brought on the journey of their relationship with the flashbacks of Molly as the reluctant and awkward teenager and Ryan as the heartthrob of the small seaside town, we see how far that they have come in the relationship, Molly blossoming into a confident and successful photographer and Ryan, a well respected PE teacher.

With humour, love and endearment, this book was a struggle to put down and at times it literally was heartbreaking to read. First we had Emma and Dexter in David Nicholls, “One Day” and now we have Molly and Ryan, a wonderfully passionate and vibrant couple, that made me smile and cry in quick succession, with their turbulent adventure filled with ups and downs, doubts and most of all the kisses that made them a couple everyone admired. But be warned, this story will tug at the hardest of heartstrings, to be honest I think this book should come with a public service announcement “Not to be read in Public” as it reduced me to a blubbering mess on three occasions on public transport, which is not a good sight to see first thing in the morning, believe me!

With a particularly sweetly illustrated cover and written beautifully, “The First Last Kiss” is a wonderfully touching and tragic coming of age love story that will have you addicted from the very start. It may only be January but I may have already found my book of 2013. A bittersweet story about finding the one and just how easily they can slip away and how each kiss could be your last, so treasure each moment together.

You can buy The First Last Kiss on Amazon and other good bookshops.

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

You Had Me At Hello

“You Had Me At Hello” is the first book by Mhairi McFarlane.

Rachel and Ben were best friends in university, it was them against the world until one day it fell apart. Ten years later, Rachel bumps into Ben and all the emotions come flooding back.

But life has moved on for the pair, Ben is married and Rachel is not. Yet in that split second that they first meet again, Rachel feels the old friendship return and along with it, the broken heart that she’s never been able to mend.

I absolutely adored this book and thought it was an intoxicating read.

Immediately right from the start, we see something is wrong with Rachel’s life and that her love for her fiancé doesn’t run as deep as it should, as we discover that she never got over the one that got away. In a series of flashbacks, we see how she met her best friend Ben and spent their university years together, as she struggles with emotions and block out her growing feelings for her best friend. Fast forward ten years later, we find out how they progressed.

WIth wonderful characters particularly the lead Rachel, who I found adorable. I loved her vulnerability and her strong belief in love that made her never give up on Ben. Her wit and sarcasm was great and the scenes of court reporting reminded me of when I studied Journalism and attended court cases. Her best friends were wonderful to read, all bright and vibrant people with their own problems that made the story fun reading. Written in short, snappy chapters, this book was impossible to put down

“You Had Me At Hello” is a genuinely funny and dark love story with a twist, written in a quite a sardonic style about the one that got away, this book will have you captivated in the early hours, An original and extraordinaryily witty tale “You Had Me At Hello” is definitely my favourite debut of 2012!

You can buy You Had Me At Hello on Amazon and other good bookshops.