December 25, 2011

In my bag this week 12/25-12/31

With the holidays catching up with me I have let this feature go. I am going to try to be better at that now.

Out of Oz: Gregory Maguire: Wicked Years #4 and was part of my christmas present
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School: Alexandra Robbins

Up for review soon:
Stay Tuned:Lauren Clark coming in January part of chick lit plus blog tour

December 18, 2011

The Secret Lives of Dresses: Erin McKean

Dora has never figured out what she really wants to do with her life. Majoring in college in vagueness, and applying to a Masters in Liberal Arts, just so she doesn't have to  make a choice. She wears what ever is most comfortable all the time and has fallen into a job at the campus coffee shop. At the coffee shop, she has a crush on her boss, and has him depending on her to run many aspects of the place. That is until her Grandmother, Mimi, who raised her has a stroke and Dora has to head home for awhile.
Dora ends up stepping in to run Mimi's Vintage clothing store. Finds herself dress from the closet that Mimi has set aside for her for years, that in the past Dora would never touch before. Discovering stories the Mimi has been selling with dresses, that are the secret lives of the dresses from before.  Now Dora finds herself stepping into roles she has never considered before. Thinking about what do about Con, the handsome young contractor that is helping her deal with Mimi's sickness. Dora has to deiced about school and how she feel about the new roles she has been stepping into.

I really flew through this book, not be able to put it down at times. I loved reading about the vintage clothes and how Dora comes to accept them as part of her and becomes part of her personality. How she grows as a person and character, that is developed through the book. There were a few moments where it seemed all a little fast with the changes, but even though it all happened in such a short time period the changes worked. With major life events happening, changes can speed up so that makes it seem a bit more believable.

Personally, I could really relate to character and I think that helped with me enjoying this plot. Though Dora changed really fast I felt I could relate to her stages. I understood the changes she made and felt I could or would make them in the same way, so that it was relatable to me.

I would suggest this book as a good read giving it, 5 stars. With the character growth and changes I would say that it is not just a chick lit book, but someone younger, aka closer to the age of Dora will relate to it the most.

December 14, 2011

After the Party: Lisa Jewell

In Jewell's earlier book Ralph's Party, Jem and Ralph found each other and fell in love. Now, eleven years later two miscarriages and two babies later. With the passage of time and children and ghosts of the past to the equation Jem and Ralph have started to lose connection with each other and themselves. They love their children, but have to remember the Love they have for each other and who they are too. And the changes they have to face are  hard and make them questions who they are, who they have become, and who they want to be and if those are compatible together as a couple.  

This book seemed really long to me a points, but at other points the length made sense with how intense the plot was. The characters were well developed and we followed them through their own self discovery and discovery of each other again, as chapters alternated between Jem and Ralph. At the end I understood the length, but I did feel like most of the action really happened at the end. There were moments earlier in the book where I had wanted to just stop reading, since nothing seemed to be happening and I didn't want to read about people just feeling bad about themselves and their situation, I can get that enough in real life. Something kept me going though and I was so glad that I did finish the book.

Finishing this book all I could do was sigh. It wrapped up nicely, yet very intense at the end. The sigh was one of those, almost holding your breath to see how things turn out, happy with the romantic ending, and a release of the emotions at the same time. It was just a satisfaction that I felt at the end of the book, that I don't get with every book and was something I could appreciate with After the Party.

Overall I would suggest this book IF you enjoyed Ralph's Party. As a standalone book, I think you can follow it since the characters are introduced again, but it is helpful knowing where Ralph and Jem came from to get to this point. I think the plot deals with some tough issues and that made it harder to read, but stand by the ending is worth getting through the rest in my opinion.

December 10, 2011

What I read in 2011

We are getting to the end of the year, with the holidays coming up how can you miss that, starting to see people ask about your best read of 2011. So, I looked over what I read this year (made so easy by goodread and it yearly reading challenge).

Looking over the list, I have read some amazing books this past year and a few that were not as good.
Some of the Highlights are:

The First Assistant and Second Assistant: by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare: Both reviews are below
Catching Alice: Clare Naylor: Review below
The Finishing Touches and Swept Off Her Feet: Hester Browne
Hollywood Ending: Lucie Simone: Review below
The Opposite of Me and Skipping a Beat: Sarah Pekkanen Reviews at Opposite of Me and Skipping a Beat

Chick lit Blog tour lead me to some great books too:
High Heels And Slippers!: Ella Slayne: Review below
The Last Page: Lacy Camey: Review below
Dollars to Donuts and Breaking Even: Kathleen Kole: Review below and Breaking Even over at my Livejournal Blog
Just One Click: Amanda Strong: Review below

These are just some of the highlights. There are so many other great books that I was able to read this year. I am set to read 40 books this year, that I have recorded this year. As I keep growing and writing review on my reads.

What are some of your top reads from 2011?

December 8, 2011

High-Heels And Slippers!: Ella Slayne

Josie Jenkins, is a Brit living in Texas. She works in Customer Service at a high end shirt store. Where she works under her ex boyfriend Bob, who happens to be married. She has a crush on a guy at work Callum, who seems to be going through trouble of his own with his parents. Things could be going somewhere with Callum, but Josie is dealing with problems of her own. She is starting to feel homesick and she gets a facebook message from her high-school sweetheart, Tom and Josie can tell that something is not right now. Now, it is time for Josie to make some choices at work, in her love life, and her personal life.

I enjoyed this book. It was easy to read and I felt like I was learning about a friend who I could really relate too as I read. The plot developed and character change and grew in a very believable way for me. It left me wanting more, but satisfied with all that was covered too.

I guess it helped me to relate to the character in that she was a big fan or wine, tea, and baths, which I am a big fan of too. But, either way I have to say that I highly suggest to a friend or anyone who wanted to look for a fun, chick lit with great character and plot development.

This is again another Chick Lit Plus Blog tour.  Again if you comment there is a give away 

I was provided a copy of the book for review, but the summary and thoughts on the book are mine.

Guest post by Ella Slayne

Today, I am doing a review of Ella Slayne's book High-Heels and Slippers! Ella wrote a great guest post too. So, Enjoy her guest post below on writing and my review I will post this afternoon.

The Wonder of a Writing Retreat!
By  Ella Slayne

I’ve been on a couple of writing retreats and they have been so useful––in fact I would say they were irreplaceable and I would definitely jump at the opportunity to go on another one.  I have got used to writing just about anywhere: I can jot down notes in the doctor’s waiting room, tap away on my laptop in the car while my kids are doing their various after-school activities, I even work on character developments while having my teeth cleaned.  I’m not unique of course, most writers are used to cramming their writing into the most unlikely places.  But the beauty of a retreat is that it provides guaranteed uninterrupted writing time to focus on a manuscript which can be vital in helping develop plot-lines or work through sticky areas.

What makes a writing retreat successful depends on many things and I think that every writer probably has their own personal list of Writing Retreat Must Haves but are a couple of  points which for me, contribute to making a writing retreat a wonderful haven where I can truly immerse myself in my writing and let my creative juices flow!

Know your fellow retreaters – I am part of a small but challenging writing group and there are usually just four of us on a retreat.  We’ve been working together as writers for a long time and have a successful working relationship. This is vital during a retreat because we are able to leave each other to work and set our own personal writing rhythms while also arranging group critique times and breaks so that we can pool our thoughts, egg each other on or seek each other’s advice.  If  I was with a group of people I didn’t know, I think I would feel that I’d have to be polite, look presentable and get caught up in small-talk which would take away from necessary writing time.  There is something wonderful about typing away on your laptop all day wearing pyjamas and tatty old slippers!

Choose a dull venue – every time we’ve organized a retreat, we have picked a B&B which is in a relatively uninteresting, isolated area. This is so important because it vastly cuts down on distractions that could take us away from our work, like shops, cinemas or restaurants.  (The only view I need on a writing retreat is the screen of my laptop!)  We usually bring our own snacks, cereals, soups and sandwich stuff so that we always have food on hand (this saves money but also prevents us from having to pop out for supplies all the time).   Sometimes we order take-out but we tend not to shower and we always make sure there is a plentiful supply of coffee!

Set goals – I think this is really important (well for me at least) because it means I’m much more efficient with my special writing retreat time.  For each retreat, I give myself a personal goal and I try to stick to it.  Whether I actually do or not, is not necessarily important, the key is to have something to work towards so that no precious time is wasted.  The retreats I’ve been on have only lasted three days ( we all have young families so it’s hard to justify more time away) so from the time we arrive, to the time we leave, we work non-stop.  We usually write well into the night and get up early to crack on.  It is so wonderfully satisfying to drive home exhausted but knowing that we have achieved so much.

I consider the writing retreats I’ve attended to be absolute gems in my writing career so far and I hope I continue to be lucky enough to keep going on them! What about you?  Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Was it successful? Would you do it again? Have you got any writing retreat tips to share?

Ella Slayne is originally from the UK and now lives in the US with her family.  Her first novel, High-Heels And Slippers, is available as an ebook at and, and in paperback at  For more info please stop by her website: or leave a comment on her blog: She would love to hear from you!

December 4, 2011

Thoughts on Nanowrimo and it being over

November is over, we are coming to end of the first week  of time outside of November. Why is this important? Because November was Nanowrimo or national novel writing month. Where all over the world people join together to challenge themselves to write 50,000 in a month. 

This is my third year of joining that challenge and my third win. This year is different though. The first year, I was going through some stuff in my personal life and did it to show that I could do the writing. I finished on Thanksgiving and was happy with what I wrote and did some editing on it, but ended up distracted and haven't gone back to it. Last year, I wanted to do it again to show it wasn't a fluke that I had succeeded once and just wanted to write something for myself. That is what I did wrote something for myself and then was done with it. I again finished early, with my real life getting in the way, but I plan that and did the words for myself. 

This year. This year I wasn't sure I was going to even really do it till the middle of October and I really did give myself permission to fail. If I didn't get the word count in that was going to be ok with me. I had a week of vacation out of town scheduled and knew that I wouldn't be able to write everyday. And I was right, I wasn't able to write ever day, but I did get my words in. Here is the new thing that I haven't felt in the past. I really do want to edit and keep working on my Nano manuscript this year. I have gone back to it a few times already.

For some reason I just feel very ready for it this year, like I have finally written something I can share with others. It is not the next great american novel by any means and might not even be something I would print. But, it is something I may share with my friends and family and for that I am proud of. 

Nanowrimo is an amazing experience and I hope to do it again and encourage all who want to write to keep working on their writing. 

In my bag this week 12/04-12/10

Reading this week:
After the Party: Lisa Jewell
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School

Review this week:
High-Heels And Slippers!: Ella Slayne

December 3, 2011

The First Assistant: A Continued Tale From Behind the Hollywood Curtain: Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare

Lizzie is back. She is not Scott's second assistant any more. She is the first assistant now with more responsibility. She has hired herself a new Second Assistant, Amber. Lara her friend, and Scott's Former First Assistant, is married to Scott and they have a son. Plus, Lizzie is having trouble with her relationship is Luke. Lizzie realizes she has more to figure out in Hollywood. First, she can't trust Amber, then Scott trades Lizzie for a car so that she can go be a personal assistant to Emerald, a rising teen start that is known for testing those around her.

Lizzie works as she tries to keep her footing, figure out what she wants, and is still fiercely loyal to her friends even when those around her are doing things that she questions.

This was an extension of The Second Assistant taking place just a few months after the last one stopped. I like being able to open it and picking up my friends where I had essentially left them in the characters. It kind of like going on vacation or out of town for a few months and catching up with friends. I did some how Lizzie had grown some between the two books and kept growing through this plot.

There were moments where I was frustrated by the decisions that Lizzie was making. But, they did help with her growing. There were moments in the plot where I was frustrated by blocks that were put there for Lizzie or choices she made that you knew were going to be problems. Then they were wrapped up and just feel into place, not making Lizzie work like she had in the past that frustrated me.

Overall, when I finished this book I felt like friends I had learned were leaving me. But, I did think the ending felt a little convenient and forced. I would recommend both of these books, but read both of them close together not, just one on their own.