19 May 2016

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Book Review / Flawed by Cecelia Ahern



You will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.




Published:     24th March 2016
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Flawed
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

MY REVIEW

Let's talk about first impressions.  I already know and love Cecelia Ahern as an author and when I heard that she was coming out with a new book I was so excited.  I had not realised at the time it was going to be a young adult novel different to what she had written before.  So, what I decided to do before reading this novel is to try and go into this blind and not have any anticipations because of the fact that I love this author.  I wanted to read this novel as if I was rediscovering this author for the first time.  For me, that was completely the right thing to do.  It was like I had discovered a new favourite author all over again!

Honestly speaking, the first part of this book I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not as it seemed like many other YA books I have read in the past.  That was until the pivotal point in this story when Celestine stands up for what she believes in and does not give up even though it means that she will be punished severely.  This book had me hooked right from that moment until the very last page.  In fact, this was the first book in a very long time that actually made me scream out loud 'Nooooooooo!' when I got to the last word.  I didn't want the story to end.  I can't believe I have to wait a whole year for the next instalment!!!!

The best part of this story by far as the message the story gives.  In this story you have two types of people - perfect and flawed.  If you are flawed that means that you have a brand somewhere on your body that you have to not hide either by not covering it up and by wearing a bracelet on the arm that shows everybody you are flawed.  To become a flawed person you needn't do much, maybe help someone who is already flawed among many things that are prohibited.  Not realising it at the time, Celestine stands up for what she believes in and becomes an example for change in the community.  What a great message to send out in a story. 

Even though this is a young adult story, I would highly recommend this for all ages and even if you haven't read a Cecelia Ahern book before.


Continue reading Book Review / Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

18 May 2016

Blog Tour Author Interview - Mavis Cheek



Newly divorced after 11 years of marriage, Pat feels attracted to Roland, a married man, especially after he gets her out of a tricky situation involving her dog Brian and a rabbit named Bulstrode. (Nancy Pearl)

After eleven years of marriage to an egocentric opera singer, Pat Murray packs up her daughter and leaves, regaining control of her life and approaching single parenthood bravely until she meets Roland and his pregnant wife.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

I’d work with Deborah Moggach because she is absolutely brilliant at turning prose into film and I’d love to have a film made of one (or more) of my books.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I do all my pre-writing work in bed before I get up. I make a pot of tea and go through emails and anything businesslike that needs attending to, and fan mail.and personal stuff. So it depends when all that is finished for a start time. But usually I am at my desk by 10.15am and work through to 2pm. And then maybe go back to it at about 5pm. I’m far less rigid about my work schedule nowadays but there is still nothing like the pleasure of feeling I’ve done a good day’s writing.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Still convincing myself that I have something to say that readers want to read about. Belief in self is one of the keys to being a writer. It’s a lonely old business sitting there inventing worlds.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
It was about a year after my daughter was born, I thought ‘I want to be at home with this baby so what can I do to keep myself working and earning at the same time? I know, I’ll be a writer.’ That was in 1980. Took me seven years to get a novel accepted by a publisher – but it was a good learning journey.’

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
From my own experience of breaking up with my daughter’s father. It just tumbled out.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Yes – I read fiction at night and non-fiction in the afternoons. I used to read poetry before I got up in the mornings but my eyes like to remain closed over my cup of tea nowadays. I do love poetry, though. Currently I’m reading Seamus Deane’s Booker nominated novel (from 1996) ‘Reading in the Dark’ which is about growing up in post-2ndWW Ireland – and is just wonderful – a ‘Rhapsodic and heartbreaking novel of family grief and political violence’ according to Seamus Heaney – and I concur. I’ve just finished Kathryn Stockett’s mistressly ‘The Help’ and will soon be going on to Anthony Trollope’s ‘Dr Thorne’. My current non-fiction read is Linda Porter’s ‘Katherine Parr’ and Susie Steinbach’s ‘Women in England: A Social History’. Both bursting with compelling research and engaging style. I think we all like to go on learning at any age. Nothing wrong with having your opinions challenged.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Work out what it is you want to say in what you want to write. That is its heartbeat, its spine, its backbone – you need to leave a reader feeling they have learned something new – albeit just your own personal take on the world. In simple terms, what is your message? Work that out and it will save you much grief and wandering about all over the place as you write your tale. I teach creative writing and it is sad seeing someone with a huge typescript who is bowed down with wondering how to make sense of it because they haven’t actually worked out what they want to say. The more unpleasant word for it is ‘angle’.

Continue reading Blog Tour Author Interview - Mavis Cheek

16 May 2016

Author Interview / JeanNicole Rivers





In the remote, eastern European town of Borslav there is St. Sebastian orphanage, a place where people discard their unwanted children. For the American, Blaire Baker, it’s the perfect place to volunteer her services. Paired with a cheerful volunteer nurse, Blaire is enthusiastic about the possibilities, but is quickly discouraged when she encounters the nefarious nature of the staff and the deplorable conditions of the facility and the children.

Upon arrival, one of the children informs Blaire, “There’s something in the basement.” It isn’t long before strange things begin happening, including Blaire’s flashbacks of the accident that killed her parents. The children soon suffer injuries that Blaire, first, fears may be the deeds of the callous workers but she soon thinks the abuse may originate from a source that is less than human, something unwanted.

The unwanted is coming but in order for Blaire to fight it, she must dig into St. Sebastian and herself in search of truth. Blaire wants nothing more than to help the children, but when discovers the tragedy that happened in the basement and learns that the same evil forces are still at work, it will be Blaire who needs help…There’s something in the basement.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW 


  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question, but I think that I would have to go with Stephen King. Not only is he a vault of the some of the most creepy thoughts and ideas that I have ever come across, he is a master storyteller and a wizard with words and I respect his relationship with his craft tremendously.
  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
First things first, COFFEE, unless I am in one of those completely delusional states of mind in which some random article has convinced me that caffeine is bad for me and I cut it out of my diet. Usually, thank goodness, these delusions only last approximately 2-3 hellish days at even given point in time. Next, I work out, this part of my morning routine is mostly fiction, but I keep hoping that the more I pretend, the more likely it is to happen in real life, not working too well thus far, but I keep trying. Last, I get a second cup of COFFEE and get comfortable in my office where I write for 2-3 hours (with short Facebook breaks in between, of course). For the most part, I write in the mornings as once late afternoon hits, my mind tends to get a bit mushy. My writing takes place mostly in my home office, complete with comfy teal chair and fluffy white blanket.
  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The editing. Writing the book, getting your ideas down on paper (beginning, middle and end) is the easy part; that is the time that I am at my computer clicking away like a mad woman. The editing is where I find, I have to bring the real work and concentration, thinking through deep plot and character flaws and finding the discipline to return to the computer, day after day and week after week in order to get it right. For me, the editing is the most difficult by far, but at the same time the most rewarding as this is the phase in which your story blossoms.
  1. When and why did you first start writing?
I have been writing all of my life, but I only got serious about it approximately six years ago. The fact is that I always wanted to be a writer, but in my younger years, lacked the true passion and discipline to bring that dream to fruition. Six years ago, I woke up one day and decided that it was time.
  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Soon after completing Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers I found myself watching an inordinate amount of documentaries and I came across one on orphanages in other countries and what I learned was frightening. I don’t much care for jump scare horror, I prefer horror that chills one to the core that makes you question, not what’s in the closet but what’s in the mirror. This documentary on the deplorable conditions of the facilities and the failing health of the children haunted me, how could things like this still be happening all around us? And while I was intrigued, I was not yet fully inspired to write the book, writing the book still hadn’t occurred to me. It wasn’t until one evening after watching this documentary when I woke in the middle of the night and there they were, those children who were severely malnourished and abused among other things were all standing by my bedside looking down on me. When I woke the next morning, I knew that I had to tell their story.

  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I read quite a bit, though not as much as I would like. I just started the Southern Gothic novel, The Devil In Canaan Parish by Jackie Shemwell, excellent read so far.
  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Writers write.


Jean Nicole Rivers
Jeannicolerivers.com
@jeannicole19 (Instagram and Twitter)

Continue reading Author Interview / JeanNicole Rivers

13 May 2016

Blog Tour Review / Danger, Sweetheart by MaryJanice Davidson

Blake Tarbell has a town to save. Rich, carefree, and used to the Vegas party lifestyle, Blake is thrown for a curve when his former cocktail-waitress mother pleads he go back to her roots to save the town she grew up in. 

Blake's used to using money to solve his problems, but when he arrives in Sweetheart, North Dakota, this city boy has to trade in his high-priced shoes for a pair of cowboy boots...and he's about to get a little help from the loveliest lady in town...

Natalie Lane's got no time for newbies. The prettiest gal to ever put on a pair of work gloves, there's nothing she can't do to keep a farm up and running. 


But when a handsome city-slicker rolls into town with nothing but bad farmer's instincts and good intentions, Natalie's heartstrings are pulled. She's about to teach him a thing or two about how to survive in Sweetheart. And he's about to teach her a thing or two about love...

Published:     10th May 2016
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

Amazon Link :  Click Here




MY REVIEW

This book was so much fun to read!  As a new author to me, I wasn't sure what to expect when picking this up but I will certainly be looking into more from this author, that's for sure!

What I liked about this book...  This book is so perfect for these coming months. A very easy, funny read that you could take with you down the beach or down to the pool.  For me, the best part was the comedy.  It is not often that I laugh out loud when reading a book so when I come across a book like this one that does I love it!

What I didn't like about this book...  Honestly, for me I found some parts to be 'rambly' which did make it harder to keep concentrating on the story but that said the comedy mentioned above made up for those harder reading moments. 

Continue reading Blog Tour Review / Danger, Sweetheart by MaryJanice Davidson

11 May 2016

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Book Review / Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

To avoid spoilers, below is the description for book 1 in this series (Between the Pages).  For a description of this book 2, please check out the Goodreads link below.

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.


And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.


A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.

 
Published:     4th June 2015
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, Between the Lines
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

MY REVIEW

I absolutely loved this book!  It had been a little while since I had read the first book in this series, Between the Lines, and I was a bit worried that I would not remember any of the characters or the plot but right from the very first page they all came back to me.  All very memorable from the last time I read about them.  I would probably go as far as to say that I loved this book more than the fist book.  With this book there is a lot more emotion with the characters in the book and the characters out of the book

Obviously as this is book 2 I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the story for those who have not read the first book yet but this was a great second book in what will hopefully be a series but I am not sure.  The way this book finished it could be left as a duology as it did feel final enough but possibly there could be more, I am not sure.  

This book has great elements of romance, comedy and drama that just kept me hooked right until the very last page.  Even though this reads as a young adult/middle grade story, I would recommend it for all ages.



Continue reading Book Review / Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

9 May 2016

Author Interview / JA Schneider





Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, gaps in her memory, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. Insecure and nervous, Liddy's turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images.

Her husband Paul tries to help but suspects it's just her imagination...while intuitive Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha's disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case, and tries to unravel the shocking truth of what really haunts her.


 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Words and story ideas are always teeming in her head – “a colorful place!” she says. She loves medical and psychological thrillers. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. 

She invites you to follow her on Twitte https://twitter.com/#!/JoyceSchneider1
or Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7fm44mk
or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider
On Facebook especially, she loves to hear from her readers. Stop & say hi! :) 


1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Maybe Ira Levin, if he were alive. I mean, I’d love to learn from him. I’ve always been fascinated by his ingenious brevity, his ability to say it all and go deep in one or few words. Picture a story scene where news comes that’s sad or terrible or devastating, and a character just says a bland, “Oh?” There you have it; in one word that character has revealed indifference, shallowness. Agatha Christie at her best also excelled at that. Scenes that have influenced me hugely are, for example, the scene in Levin’s “The Boys From Brazil,” where the female former warden in a concentration camp is about to be brought from her prison cell for Lieberman, the Nazi hunter, to question. Lieberman is just dying of nerves, banging heart, feelings boiling with emotion wondering how he’ll react when he sees her. Finally, her lawyer brings her. The door opens. Lieberman’s heart is bursting…and in simply steps a drab old woman with “a disappointed mouth.”

“A disappointed mouth!” This person’s entire life and character summed up in four words! And we see her - much better than if Levin had gone on and on about her pallor, sunken features, depressing German prison uniform. He could have done that, but he didn’t. With those four words we see that woman much more clearly. 

To work with or for an author like that, how incredible that would be...

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
Typical working day would be about five hours, after that the brain feels fried. I love best to work in or on my bed or the sofa, on my back with my lightweight Mac Air perched on my knees. Freud was right, I think, about this position being good to let thoughts flow, also to block out the white noise of…life, lawn mowers outside etc. Have you ever watched the TV show “The Mentalist?” The lead character Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) does that, it’s his favorite position to mull and ponder, try to force the gray cells.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
The hardest part is what Hugh Howey calls “powering through,” just getting it down fast and returning later to edit. I can’t do that! I’m kinda o.c. and edit as I go along - or first thing next morning. That doesn’t qualify me for the 3,000 words a day club, but editing helps me get started each day, remember what I wrote yesterday. I just can’t spew a mess figuring I’ll come back to edit later. Wish I could, actually. It must be a great feeling, being able to say, “Hey, I wrote 5,000 words today.” 

4.  When and why did you first start writing? 

In third or fourth grade. People used to kid me about what a wild imagination I had, so I started putting my childish little stories on paper. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
It started small. I’d been mulling a married couple where each is very different: the husband Paul is a scientist, a Facts and Logic guy, brilliant academically but not hugely imaginative - whereas Liddy is an artist who sees everything visually and has an intense imagination. They seem happy and complement each other: she’s colorful, he’d be borderline nerdy if he weren’t good-looking. So what could upset this perfect balance? Throw in a near tragic accident, and Liddy’s brain injury - and then, during her convalescence, her growing obsession with a young coed the media keep reporting as missing. Paul becomes troubled because of this. He’s a neuroscientist - at one point has to stifle himself from saying “Snap out of it!” Are Liddy’s feelings confusing her own near tragedy with this young girl’s disappearance where foul play is suspected?  Or is there something else that’s spiking her obsession - and with it, the growing marital tension? The story snowballed from there. 

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I’m a passionate reader. Even after a busy day of headachy writing, I can't fall asleep without reading. Right now I’m re-reading MARATHON MAN, by William Goldman. After Agatha’s best (DEATH ON THE NILE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS) and the Ira Levin books, this is another classical great, and I totally love Goldman’s character Babe. I’m also reading two of Rachel Abbott’s books. She does something I love: combine psychological thrillers with police work. 

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Accept that it’s hard, really the hardest thing in the world, I think. Mental heavy lifting, forcing the sluggish brain. I wish I could follow that myself but I get impatient with the process, want it done faster, sooner, better already!…and that doesn’t happen, of course. So, accept up front that there’s nothing glamorous about writing, it’s just the daily slog. In the words of Stephen King, “I just keep flailing away at the g-d thing.” 


Continue reading Author Interview / JA Schneider

5 May 2016

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Book Review / The Obsession by Nora Roberts

The riveting new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Liar.

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.



Published:     14th April 2016
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher 

MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...   It's Nora Roberts, what is there not to like!  From the moment I knew this existed I was so excited to read it.  Having only recently, in the past few years, discovered my love of Nora Roberts' work (The Reef being one of my favourites) I knew that this was a book that I had to read sooner rather than later.  This was a very shocking story, right from the outset.  The main character of this story, Naomi, being a very young child when she discovers a secret about her family, a secret so big and so horrible she has to go 'into hiding' and assume a new identity.  For me, the best part of this story was watching Naomi as she struggles to come to terms with what she finds out and how she learns to survive in a world she is now unsure of.

What I didn't like about this story...  Honestly speaking, there were two main points in this story that  I really didn't like.  The first was the character of Naomi's mother.  The fact that in times of jeopardy a mother is supposed to be strong for her children must have missed Naomi's mother right by.  She comes across as a weak character and not willing to change to help her children through this situation by choosing to keep in contact with someone who she really shouldn't.  The second point, which is not a big point, but that when reading this book I had gone in with the preconceived notion that this book was going to be full of suspense with lots of twists and turns but this story really was not like that at all and that is entirely my fault on that point for having those prejudgements to start with.  What makes this book great is the journey of Naomi throughout this story and seeing her relationships with other characters grow as the story goes on.

Trigger Warning -  I do have to point out that this book does feature some issues that some people may find distressing.  Unfortunately I don't want to spoil the story by saying what those aspects are but if you do want to know please do email me and I will let you know what those are. 









Continue reading Book Review / The Obsession by Nora Roberts

Book Feature / Civvy Street by Fiona Field


Third novel in Fiona Field's Soldiers series sees Major Mike Collins and his wife, Susie, struggling to adjust to life on civvy street, while their rebellious twin daughters react very badly to the disastrous change in their circumstances. Meanwhile, dramas are unfolding back at the regiment. Maddy Fanshaw has forgiven her husband Seb for his affair, but trouble brews when he is promoted over the head of a more senior friend. And how will everyone react when Susie Collins applies for the relatively humble job of mess manager? Let alone when former bad girl, Jenna, returns to set up a hairdressing salon in the new community centre – and perhaps set the regiment by the ears all over again...

GOODREADS  (OUT NOW)
Continue reading Book Feature / Civvy Street by Fiona Field

3 May 2016

Book Feature / Resolution by Andrew Boyce

It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year.

By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure.
Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.”

When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next.

On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite.

It is into this world that Huck and Molly race.

They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

Amazon Link


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. 

Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, RESOLUTION. 

He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, YELLOW HAIR.
Continue reading Book Feature / Resolution by Andrew Boyce

2 May 2016

Month in Review / April 2016

Yet another pretty fantastic reading month for me!  Yey!  Although I did not get to read as many books as I had hoped I always go with quality over quantity and I got that this month for sure!  Some pretty amazing reads.  My favourites for this month have to be The Undomestic Goddess (a reread for me and loved it the second time around), The Help (this was the book that took the longest for me to read not because it was really long but it was a slow paced story and I wanted to take my time and enjoy it), The Hope Family Calender (such an emotional read but Mike Gayle is always a win for me) and Burning Embers (a historical romance from an author who is new to me and who I can't wait to read more of.

Hope you all have had a great reading month in April and are starting off May with great reads too!

BOOKS READ





BOOKS RECEIVED AND BOUGHT









Continue reading Month in Review / April 2016

26 Apr 2016

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Book Review / Burning Embers by Hannah Fielding

An unforgettable passion ignited in the heart of Africa. A fragile love tormented by secrets and betrayal.

Coral Sinclair, a beautiful but naïve young photographer, learns within days of calling off her wedding that she has also lost her father. Leaving her life in England, she sails to Kenya to take up her inheritance – Mpingo, the plantation that was her childhood home.

On the voyage, Coral meets a charismatic stranger and their mystifying attraction shakes her to the core. Later she finds out his identity and is warned that the man is not to be trusted. Rafe de Monfort, owner of a nightclub and the neighbouring plantation, is not only a notorious womanizer, but also his affair with Coral’s stepmother may have contributed to her father’s death. Or so the rumours go.

As Coral is swept up in the undeniable chemistry between her and Rafe, a tentative romance blossoms in the exotic, dangerous wilderness of Africa. But when Coral delves into his past, she questions his true motives. Is the infamous lothario just after her inheritance? Or does Rafe’s secret anguish colour his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine? 


Published:     23rd December 2014
Publisher:  London Wall
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Author



MY REVIEW

Words cannot truly describe how amazingly beautiful this book is!  Honestly, from reading the description I initially thought that this would be a nice fun easy romatic read.  This book was so much more than that.  For starters, you have an African backstop for most of this story.  The descriptions of people and places were so beautifully written I could imagine myself standing right there in the middle of the story.  Also, what great characters with such depth and great character progression.  If I had to pick favourites they would have to be Coral and Rafe.  Coral is the main character in this story who returns home to Africa after learning of her father's death to take up her inheritance, a plantation that she lived on as a child.  Rafe is a mysterious character at the beginning of the story but one that Coral takes a shine to and cannot seem to resist.

Along with the above, you have other characters who come and go throughout the story, each adding more depth to the story and you also have secrets that Coral needs to discover about what really happened at the planation after she left and before she returned.

This is a truly beautiful story that I would highly recommend to everyone! 



Continue reading Book Review / Burning Embers by Hannah Fielding

21 Apr 2016

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Blog Tour Author Interview - Eliza Wass

Castley Cresswell is sixteen. She lives with her three brothers and two sisters in a big house in the woods. Her mom doesn't speak and her dad keeps telling her that God hates the world.
Castley can't bring herself to hate the world. She likes the woods, for one thing. School can be fun, sometimes. And then there's boys. God definitely hates fun and boys.
Castley loves her brothers and sisters, too. Even if they annoy her. Even if they are scared to death of Father. Even if they're too scared to run.
Father wants Castley and her siblings to stay in the family forever. And he'll do whatever it takes to keep them there, even if it means the Cresswell kids never get to grow up at all . . .
What if survival means Castley must leave her brothers and sisters behind?



AUTHOR INTERVIEW
If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
God. I reckon he’d be pretty good and he’s got the best sense of humour in the universe.
What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

Since my husband Alan died last year I’ve been travelling a lot because I don’t really know where to go—it’s a tough thing to figure out when the place you want to be doesn’t exist anymore. So I’ve been to New York City, Charleston, Asheville, Phoenix, Livermore, Los Angeles, San Diego and now I’m on my way back to London. Wherever I go, I check there’s a desk in the room with me and I write every morning. Sometimes the words come easy but more often it’s a struggle and I’m romancing the story—I take it on walks and into the shower, feed it tea, read it books, play it music and if it’s just not working, I throw it’s underwear out onto the street and write I hate you in lipstick on all the mirrors.
What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Ugh, plotting, by which I mean having a plot. I would much rather just write and see where I end up. I have to work very hard to keep myself from getting lost, rather as I do in life.
When and why did you first start writing?
First I started wronging and then to fix it I had to start writing.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The thing about books is they’re more of a layering of ideas and failed stories, so it’s hard to define a single source, but the very, very first scene I ever wrote for The Cresswell Plot was from Caspar’s perspective and was about him shovelling snow from driveways after dark as a way of reaching out to people outside of his cult-like family.
Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Yes, of course. I’m reading The Secret History as a comp title for an adult book I’m drafting. I actually DNF’d the novel last year and now that I am F-ing it, I am like, how did I miss that this is MAGIC?
Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
On a practical level, write every day, research writing and the industry on the Internet, but the number one thing is YOU ALREADY ARE A WRITER. Don’t let anyone tell you different and DONT GIVE UP. Write everyday knowing that you will get there, because you will if you keep going.


Continue reading Blog Tour Author Interview - Eliza Wass

20 Apr 2016

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Book Review / The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan

1939, and Will and Alice are evacuated to a granite farm in north Cornwall, perched on a windswept cliff. There they meet the farmer's daughter, Maggie, and against fields of shimmering barley and a sky that stretches forever, enjoy a childhood largely protected from the ravages of war.

But in the sweltering summer of 1943 something happens that will have tragic consequences. A small lie escalates. Over 70 years on Alice is determined to atone for her behaviour - but has she left it too late?

2014, and Maggie's granddaughter Lucy flees to the childhood home she couldn't wait to leave thirteen years earlier, marriage over; career apparently ended thanks to one terrible mistake. Can she rebuild herself and the family farm? And can she help her grandmother, plagued by a secret, to find some lasting peace?

This is a novel about identity and belonging; guilt, regret and atonement; the unrealistic expectations placed on children and the pain of coming of age. It's about small lies and dark secrets. But above all it's about a beautiful, desolate, complex place.


Published:     30th June 2016
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this story...  On first look at this book, it looks like a very easy read, maybe chicklit?  Definitely not chicklit.  What this story has is history and a lot of drama - and I loved it!!  You have the past where you see Will, Alice and Maggie.  Will and Alice arrive at Maggie's home farm escaping the war.  They build a friendship between them.  Something happens one summer which separates them.  You then have the present day where you see Maggie as a grandmother living at her farm with her family.  The farm is not doing so good and her grandaughter Lucy returns to the farm having discovered that her husband was having an affair which led to mistakes nearly being made at work.  We follow Lucy as she tries to rebuild herself and help rebuild the farm.  You have two separate stories, one in the past and one in the present, that are both unfinished.  I loved trying to figure out how each one of those ends.  

What I didn't like about this story...  There was only one part that really bugged me about this story and that was what happened to Will after that summer in 1943 when things went wrong.  I was so disappointed after learning what really happened and felt that if something else had happened instead of what really happened the ending would have been a lot more enjoyable.   
Continue reading Book Review / The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan

19 Apr 2016

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Book Review / The Hope Family Calender by Mike Gayle


Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.

In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia.

With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly dicovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.

With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

Published:     16th June 2016
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

First of all, it's a new book written by Mike Gayle.  It's going to be good...  Mike Gayle is one of my favourite authors; I always look forward to anything new that comes out written by him.  Mike Gayle mainly writes chicklit type stories but the main character is usually always male.  Sometimes it has a comedic element and sometimes has a more dramatic realistic feel to it.

This book simply put made me cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time.  Such a beautiful story written to such perfection it felt like I was right there in the story, like a fly on the wall, watching it all unfold moment by moment.  You have Tom Hope whose wife dies in a car accident.  We fast forward a year and see what has happened since that fateful day.  Everything turns on its head when Linda (Tom's wife's mother) leaves Tom to look after his children (trying to force him to face up to his responsibilities rather than just escaping to work) and goes to visit her best friend in Australia.  I absolutely loved following Tom's journey of discovery through trying to be the Dad he should have been a long time ago.  Of course, he hits a few stumbling blocks along the way.

What I also liked was that Linda had had own story too.  I won't go too much into that because it is far better going into this story not knowing too much and discovering things as they go along but I really enjoyed Linda's story and how she goes about resolving her 'difficulties'.

Along with Tom, Linda and Tom's two daughters, you have a few other characters that pop up along the way.  One of my favourites there would have to be an older man that Tom needs at a grief counselling session who becomes a friend.

Although this has a sad tone to the story, this is definitely one not to be missed.  I simply cannot recommend this book enough!!!









Continue reading Book Review / The Hope Family Calender by Mike Gayle

18 Apr 2016

Author Interview / David Meredith

What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an
aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW



1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

Probably Neil Gaiman or Tad Williams - Williams because he’s probably my favorite author and Gaiman because he is just incredibly creative. There is something about the quality of his writing where if you pick up a piece of Neil Gaiman writing, you know that’s exactly who wrote it. His is a very distinctive style and I admire that.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?

As far as my writing goes, I still have a day job (and a night job as well, as a matter of fact) so I just have to squeeze it in whenever and wherever I have a little time. The most important thing to me though is to work on my writing and promotion at least a little every day, even if I only get 5-10 minutes, just to keep my momentum going and avoid stagnation and writer’s block.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?

I suppose it’s not responding to negative reviews. I’m not by nature a vitriolic or overly reactive person, and I make it a point to NEVER respond to negative reviews (I think it’s grossly unprofessional), but it is maddening when you read a review and it’s obvious that the reviewer either totally didn’t get the point you were trying to make at all or complains about something that was specifically spelled out in the initial query (the sex and violence content of a story for example). Still, as with any artistic medium, there will always be people who do not care for your work and their opinions on how it affected or failed to affect them are perfectly valid, so you just have to shrug and move on.

4. When and why did you first start writing?

I’ve always written. Going all the way back to when I was about nine years old writing stories on notebook paper and binding them with old shirt-boards decorated with Crayola marker I wanted to create stories, but it took quite a bit longer for me to feel confident what I wrote was good enough to show other people. I don’t think that happened until well into my adulthood – when I’d finally had enough literary experience as well as life experience to make my writing feel authentic and real.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The original version of most fairy tales where pretty brutal, (especially compared to the highly sterilized Disney versions that most people are used to). However, in spite of the fantastical elements they invariably contain, they are at their root, very real. They speak to our deepest desires, darkest fears, and greatest flaws, but they are also aspirational. They provide us with examples, regardless how improbable, of how we might overcome desperate circumstances to achieve greatness and contentment in a world where such things often seem rarified and elusive. They give us hope that everything really will work out in the end. The best of them leave you with a sense, on some level, the story really could have happened.

In the case of Snow White, I think most people can relate to depression. Most have either experienced it themselves or know someone dear to them who has. However, I noticed that fairy tale princesses, particularly of the Disney variety, in spite of horrible trauma and tragedy just simply don’t appear to have the same weaknesses and failings as regular people by suffering the long term effects of those traumatic experiences. I felt like this actually served to distance the character from the reader. I think my approach more accurately examines the likely effects that a life of neglect and abuse (like the one Snow White was forced to endure) would have in real life. It’s the sort of thing that really has the potential to break a person and I wanted to explore that struggle more thoroughly.

Now, the other part of the inspiration, the real world part, was rather personal. In the space of about three or four months back in 2006, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. As I observed how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… Now what?”

They had both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60). Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon one other person for so long, what do you do when they are no longer a part of your life? How do you pick up the pieces and move forward?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?

I would say “usually” in answer to that question. I am currently working on my doctorate degree so I don’t have a whole lot of time for pleasure reading these days. At present I am mostly pouring over a fat, heavy textbook on research statistics. When I do have time to read something for fun, it is generally fantasy genre literature. The most recent title I read was George Martin’s first volume of Game of Thrones. I also tend to read a lot of work themed on Japan, (I lived there for nearly a decade). I think James Clavell’s Shogun and Liza Dolby’s The Tale of Murasaki are particularly good, but I try to read lots of different types of writing to expand my literary tool box.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

-Be confident in your craft, but open to criticism.
-Read lots of different writing styles to expand your writing tool-box.
-Be pleased with your work but never satisfied – Always strive to be better on your next piece of writing.
-Enjoy the process – Writing should be about process first and product second. If you fail to enjoy or attempt to rush the process, your work will likely suffer for it.




Continue reading Author Interview / David Meredith