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Friday, 28 November 2014

Book Tour | Pie Girls


Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s is thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

My Review
I've never read anything from Lauren Clark before but I've heard that she's written some really good 'chick-flick' books in the past so I was excited when I received the opportunity to read Pie Girls. This book was just lovely and whilst at the beginning, I really didn't like the main character Searcy, I grew to love her just as her character grew. The story isn't just fluffy romance and chick flick content, it did have some deeper moments that I found myself being sucked into and the whole book was incredibly easy to read, meaning I finished it in one sitting. Lauren Clark definitely has an intriguing way of writing, and I'll be reading more of her work in the future. 

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card
If you're unfamiliar with book tours and the giveaway aspect that comes with them, I'll give you a quick guide. Basically, the more tour stops you visit and comment on, the greater your chances of winning (you can enter on every stop). Here are a list of the tour stops for the Pie Girls tour. At the end of the tour, Lauren will be picking a winner from Rafflecopter to win a $20 Amazon gift card. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio

Lauren Clark writes contemporary Southern novels sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.

She is the author of four award-winning novels, Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, and Pie Girls, as well as a short story, A Very Dixie Christmas, published in the Merry & Bright holiday collection. Lauren is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and the Mobile Writers Guild. 

Buy the book on iBooks | Buy on Kindle | Buy on Nook

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Black Friday Shopping Deals!

In England, not many people are familiar with the tradition of Black Friday. Since the shopping phenomenon follows Thanksgiving and British people don't generally celebrate Thanksgiving (unfortunately), it's never really been a thing up until this year. It appears, though, that this year businesses have leaped on the opportunity to boost their sales and we now have shops opening their doors at 7am for shoppers to grab the latest deals. Me, I'll be sticking to online shopping from the comfort of my own home (and where I'm less likely to be trampled on for a cashmere cardigan.) So grab your duvet, hot chocolate and credit cards, because here is my guide to Black Friday online shopping. 

Where to find deals:

Just about every online store (UK or international) will have some sort of Black Friday sale. Some advertise this weeks beforehand, others only post about their goods on Black Friday itself. I've compiled a list of websites I'll be checking come Black Friday to search for the best deals. As with in-store shopping - the best deals go quickly. Very quickly. When it comes to sale shopping, people can be crazy and will sit there refreshing their browser every 5 seconds for hours until the heeled booties go on sale in their size. 

If you're an avid Amazon browser like me, you'll already be aware of the Black Friday week - deals everyday on almost anything you can think of, during the week running up to Black Friday. These deals usually have a limited number of products and a limited time period in which you can buy them. Items are sometimes more than 50% off, so it's worth checking out Amazon

Other places to visit tomorrow online and in-store are Harvey NicholsJohn LewisAsdaSainsburysArgosHouse of Fraser and Game. With some places offering up to 50% off technology and general items, these are the best places to grab some of your Christmas shopping. With offers available on tons of beauty and fashion items, I've selected the top websites I'll be browsing come Black Friday. Join me at BootsAsosNasty GalFragrance DirectDr. Brandt and Zara.

How to budget during Black Friday:

I'm a huge over-spender when it comes to online sales. There's something about seeing an amazing deal that just quickens my heartbeat and I get the overwhelming feeling that I need that £1 reindeer-shaped mug with a glowing nose that I know deep-down I will probably never use. My main tip for surviving Black Friday without emptying your bank account is to set yourself a budget. Sounds easy, right? Agree with yourself a set amount that you will not go over. I usually set this £10-£20 lower than I'm willing to spend, so that I have some wriggle room if I do find some 'must-have' items. 

My next piece of advice would be to put everything you're interested in, in your online bag. If you can picture yourself wearing it or you simply like it, put it in your basket. When you've done browsing that site, have a look over everything in your basket and decide on the items you genuinely want to buy. If, by the time you get to the checkout, you've decided you don't really need that tartan scarf because you already have three at home, take it out. This is a great way to whittle down your choices and easily have them presented to you right before you're about to pay. 

Finally, keep a note of your purchases. If you're buying from several websites, keep a list next to your computer of the items you've already bought and the total you've spent. This ensures you don't end up with two similar items from different stores and it keeps your budget on track. Yeah, it can be a pain when you just want to shop, but it really does help control what you're buying. 

So, with only one day to go to Black Friday, I hope you're all well-prepared and if you're buying in-store, stay safe! Remember that the people around you are also people and that the bag you've been lusting after for months isn't worth trampling on another human being just because it's 50% off. Have a great Black Friday and I look forward to reading plenty of blog posts about your purchases (leave them below!) 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Books | Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Okay, I admit it. I'm 22 years old and I'm obsessed with Youtubers. Despite not being the typical audience for the kinds of Youtubers that I watch, or the target audience for this book, I really liked this book and I'm a big fan of Zoe in general. After the Blair & Elle Fowler debacle where it wasn't clear if they had a ghostwriter write their books (yikes), I was hoping Girl Online was all Zoe and it's fairly safe to say I think it is. 

Girl Online is about Penny, a sixteen year old girl from Brighton living with her wedding-planner parents and brother Tom. Penny is the awkward red-headed misfit at her school, with fake-friends and an embarrassing video under her belt but when her parents need to fly to New York over Christmas for work, Penny and her next-door-neighbour/best friend go along for the trip and Penny meets a boy who may change her view on a lot of things. 

The book was absolutely chock full of cliche's. If you want an original literary-masterpiece, this book isn't for you. That isn't a criticism, however, I really enjoyed it. The book is aimed at Zoe's Youtube audience (pre-teens and young teens) so this does need to be kept in mind when reading this book. The content was so appropriate and a lot of teenagers (myself included) have felt like they can never do anything right and that their life is one embarrassing moment after another and possibly even that their friends aren't as genuine as they first thought. Whilst the book did feature a strong case of insta-love (characters who very quickly claim to have feelings for one another and be 'in love') I felt as though it just added to the coziness of the book. The romance was swoon-worthy and it will undoubtedly have teenagers all over the world pining after a romance like this. I can confidently say that if I had read this book when I was entering my teen years, it may have saved me a few heartbreaks and moments where I thought fake-friends should still be treated as friends and that it's acceptable for boys to treat you as anything other than a princess. (It's not, FYI - you should always be treated like a princess, by friends and by love interests!)

The book handled a topic very close to Zoe's heart - panic attacks, and helpfully offered some advice to those who may suffer. Whilst being subtle enough to fit in with the book, I think Zoe added those bits to help and comfort readers who may have panic attacks as well. One of my favourite bits was towards the end where she included (as a blog post by Penny) the words:

Every time you post something online you have a choice. 

The message is so strong and I'm glad that Zoe included it in the book since I know her, amongst other Youtubers, are struggling with negative comments from their viewers and many have breached this topic in recent videos - Zoe even using those exact same words. It's such a strong message that all internet-users need to remember when posting anything, younger ones in particular.

The writing in Girl Online was so clear and descriptive - I really felt as though I was there alongside Penny. The one slightly negative thing I feel after reading this book is that it was set at Christmas time - and with it only being 26th November, it made me want it to be Christmas! 
All joking aside, I really enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would and whilst I continue to support Zoe in everything she does, I really do hope she writes more books like this. Overall, I suppose, this book serves as my plea - to everybody who thinks they are too old for books like this, please read it. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Books | December YA Releases

December seems to be a slower month for YA book releases, with only a handful coming out in the Christmas month, but the ones that are coming out look pretty darn good. All three of these books are from author's that I haven't heard of before, so I'm pretty excited to potentially discover some new favourites! 

Winter Falls is the first book in a new trilogy by Nicole Maggi, set to be released on December 22nd. Winter Falls is Nicole's first release, with another YA book coming out in 2015 (not part of the trilogy), I'm excited to read some of Maggi's work. Winter Falls is about a typical sixteen-year-old girl dying to get out of her tiny home town in Maine. When a new family arrive in town, their son Jonah catches Alessia's eye and she soon discovers she is part of an ancient cult of warriors who can shapeshift into animals. The Fantasy book sounds exciting and I can't wait for its release!

I was drawn to this amazing cover and needed to know more about Suspicion immediately. Alexandra Monir is experienced in the YA world, having already written a series called Timeless. Unable to escape her parents deaths, Imogen moves to New York City, but when a letter arrives with news of her cousins death, Imogen must return to her family home in England and become a Duchess. Dark secrets hide behind the walls of her home and she quickly learns there may be more to her families deaths than she first thought. This book sounds creepy and mysterious and a perfect book to read in December! 

Finally, dubbed as "Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's Fairy Tales", Princess of Thorns sounds like an incredibly fast-paced fantasy about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, Princess Aurora. Disguised as a boy, Aurora must fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole her thrown ten years before. I hate to admit that I haven't actually read any fairy tale re-tellings before, but this one sounds so action-packed and dramatic, I can't wait to pick it up. 

Have you heard of any of these books before? Are you intrigued by any of them? 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Books | Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds got a lot of hype when it first came out and I can kind of understand why. Scott Westerfeld is an amazing author and probably one of my favourites, so I can understand why it was highly anticipated before its release. 

Afterworlds is about Darcy, a teenager author who is awaiting the publishing date of her new book, Afterworlds. She moves to New York to continue writing her sequel and half of the book is about her journey to discovering herself and her developing relationships. 

The other half of the book, revealed to us through alternate chapters, is Darcy's book, Afterworlds. In the novel, Lizzie is part of a terrorist attack which leads to her slipping into the 'Afterworld' and becoming a psychopomp (a guider of the dead, in simple terms.) 

Both stories were fairly interesting, but I did find myself being drawn more to Darcy's story. I was fascinated by her life as a YA author and her relationship with Imogen. When reading Lizzie's story in the Afterworld, I was finding myself wishing I could get back to Darcy's story, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. As always, I loved Scott Westerfeld's writing style and his world-building in this book was second-to-none. Whilst it is a large book and took me longer than I'd hoped to get to the end, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Afterworlds and would recommend checking it out if you're a fan of Westerfeld or the paranormal. 

My rating: 4 out of 5 

View all of my reviews