1 Dec 2015

Book Review / The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this book featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Published:     14th October 2014
Publisher:  Ten Speed Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned - Audio book

With the grand success of listening to The Witches on audio book, I decided to give it another go.  This time I decided to listen to something that I had not read before so I chose this one.  I wanted to listen to this while doing my housework and organising etc to see whether it would influence the way I tidy and organise and whether I could get inspiration from it as I work my way through my house.  This was an interesting read.  It was interesting more for what I found out about myself rather than actually following this as a step by step guide.  As this book works its way through your house advising you to do this, that and the other there were parts that I thought were a good idea and parts that I really didn't think would work in my home.  Through listening to this book, I found out that I am more of a organise bit my bit, stage by stage, type person rather than gather up all of a certain type of thing in the house and sort it out all at once.  It was something that I had not realised before but realised that this was true of most of the things that I do around the house.  I like to do things bit by bit, processing each thing as I go.  For example, if my living room needs sorting, organising etc I would start with a section and do that and then I would move onto the next thing rather than sorting the whole room at once.

Although there were parts that I decided not to do because I felt it would not work for me, I found this book to be very inspiring and found great hints and tips.  So I would say that if this particular way of tidying up (gathering up everything and organising it in one go) does not appeal to you, do give this book a go as you can get so much more out of it than just that.  OK, it does get a bit weird in places where she is, for example, thanking your socks for their good duty but I actually found that to be funny rather than annoying and had a giggle about it as it is not something I would do...

30 Nov 2015

Month in Review / November 2015

Hi!!!  Its been a very interesting read month this month.  I decided to mix up my reading habits a bit to see what happens.  Firstly, I decided to try poetry with the book Chasers of the Light and absolutely loved it!  The love poems were beautiful and the format of the book was so pretty.  If you haven't tried poetry before and want to give it a go, I definitely recommend giving Chasers of the Light a try.  Secondly, I decided to try audio books.  It is something that I have tried and failed at liking many times in the past but wanted to give it a go.  This time I decided to take a book that I have already read before and loved and see what I thought of that in audio format.  I loved it!  I chose The Witches by Roald Dahl, a childhood favourite of mine (I also love the movie...).  I had always thought the Witches in this book were evil but the creep factor of the book definitely came out a lot more with the audio book.  If you haven't tried it, I would highly recommend that also! 

If I had to pick my favourite book of the month, that would be a hard choice because I really enjoyed all of them but would have to choose Chasers of the Light.  It was such a beautiful read I couldn't not pick it as my favourite!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert begins a smoking hot new series about the O'Malley family-wealthy, powerful, dangerous and seething with scandal.

Teague O'Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family's name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a "business" alliance, Teague's ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and vows he will do everything in his power to protect her.

Everyone knows the O'Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn't aware just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. But the closer they get, the more trouble they're in. Because Callie's keeping a dark secret-and what Teague doesn't know could get him killed.

In "Mistletoe and Mr. Right," Jessica (not Jessie) takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays for Christmas break, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily ever after. But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . . . and least.

The holiday hijinks continue in "Sleigh Bells and Second Chances," when Jessica's best friend makes her own way across the pond! Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it's her duty to babysit one of London's hottest bands at their last-minute concert on Christmas Eve . . . even though she had a fling with Cary, the band's lead singer, that never officially ended. Now forced to reconnect, Christina is starting to think that maybe London is exactly where she's supposed to be to get the perfect New Year's kiss--at least until she finds out that he's been lying the whole time. Can Cary find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve? Or will the New Year ring in a new romance?

Lyla Payne wraps up two perfect holiday novellas, ties them with a ribbon of romance, and tops them with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sweet Ache comes a blistering new novel filled with danger, secrecy, and a desire that can’t be sated…

Foreign war correspondent Tanner Thomas is addicted to living on the edge. Needing the adrenaline rush of his job to help him cope with a personal loss, he throws himself back into the game, concentrating all his energy on getting the next big story.

But when he meets his new photojournalist, Beaux Croslyn, he can’t help but feel like he’s losing his focus—and maybe risking more…

With secrets she won’t address, Beaux is far from your ordinary woman. Determined to keep her distance, she’s willing to pull Tanner in closer and hide behind the sparks flying between them. But as Beaux’s past begins to put their relationship—and their lives—at risk, Tanner’s determination to find the truth puts them both in jeopardy.

He's ready to chase her to the ends of the earth to find out if what they had was real, or if the danger surrounding them was just an exquisite heat fated to burn out…

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Fall Away series who never fails to deliver a “powerfully written contemporary love story…”*

Former tennis player Easton Bradbury is trying to be the best teacher she can be, trying to reach her bored students and trying to forget her past. What brought her to this stage in her life isn’t important. She can’t let it be. But now one parent-teacher meeting may be her undoing…

Meeting Tyler Marek for the first time makes it easy for Easton to see why his son is having trouble in school. The man knows how to manage businesses and wealth, not a teenage boy. Or a young teacher, for that matter, though he tries to. And yet…there is something about him that draws Easton in—a hint of vulnerability, a flash of attraction, a spark that might burn.

Wanting him is taboo. Needing him is undeniable. And his long-awaited touch will weaken Easton’s resolve—and reveal what should stay hidden…

Carla Scofield has looked after her family since she was a teenager but it's never been a bother because there isn't anything she wouldn't do for those closest to her. Warm, friendly, and with the ability to make everyone around her laugh, she carries her burden proudly.
As the years roll past, Carla sees life around her change dramatically. Wartime brings new challenges and a new job for Carla in a sewing factory, and she shines. It also brings with it love and Carla has a chance at real happiness - but not everyone is rooting for her. With Christmas ahead of her, and her sights set firmly on love and the future, will she be too distracted to sense the danger before it's too late?
An East End Christmas is an emotional, compelling and page-turning story that will be perfect for fans of Katie Flynn, Annie Groves and Carol Rivers.

 New York Times bestselling author Darcie Chan returns to the enchanting town of Mill River in a heartwarming novel of family, self-discovery, and forgiveness. Perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy.

Josie DiSanti is starting over. Recently widowed, she has fled her New York City home with her two young daughters—spirited Rose and shy Emily—in tow. She takes refuge in Mill River, Vermont, to live with her only remaining relative, Ivy Collard, the local bookstore owner and a woman Josie barely knows. There, the young mother and her girls build a new life for themselves—until a shocking tragedy tears the sisters apart.

Years later, Josie’s still-estranged daughters return to the quiet town for the reading of their mother’s will, which stipulates that they must work together to locate a hidden key to a safe-deposit box containing their inheritance. Even from the great beyond, it seems Josie will do anything to bring about her daughters’ reconciliation. Having no choice but to go along with their mother’s final wishes, Rose and Emily move back to Mill River for the summer to begin the search—discovering that, in the close-knit community known for magic and miracles, an even greater treasure awaits them.

 The spotlight doesn't only shine. Sometimes it burns.

Being the bad-boy bassist for the world's hottest band has earned Griffin Hancock some perks: a big house, a fast car, and most importantly his incredible wife, Anna. The one thing it hasn't brought him is the spotlight. Anna tells him to be patient, that his talent will win out. But Griffin is through waiting for permission to shine.

Without warning, Griffin makes a shocking decision and takes the gamble of a lifetime. Suddenly he's caught up in a new level of lights, cameras, and chaos. One that pushes his relationship with Anna to its limits. Anna has always found his unpredictable behavior sexy, but lately he's seen an ache in her eyes--and it has his soul in knots. Just as the recognition Griffin seeks is finally within reach, the thing he loves most in life could be slipping through his fingers...

 1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart

26 Nov 2015

Book Review / The Witches by Roald Dahl

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. 

They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them. 

Roald Dahl has done it again! Winner of the 1983 Whitbread Award, the judges' decision was unanimous: "funny, wise, deliciously disgusting, a real book for children. From the first paragraph to the last, we felt we were in the hands of a master".

Published:     9th January 1989
Publisher:  Puffin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned (Audio book)

I have read this book so many times I really cannot keep count!  The first time I read this book was when I was a young teen and loved it.  I loved it then and I loved it now.  I decided this time to try and listen to it on audio book rather than read it from a book.  In the past I have not found audio books worked for me but I wanted to give them another go with a book that I know I love and see whether that would change my mind.  I have to say that it did!  Whilst doing my housework on a rainy Saturday morning, I put this on and listened to the entire recording in one day.  By listening to it, I found there was an added creep factor that hadn't been there in the physical copy book.  I really enjoyed it and found that in between reading physical books and listening to audio books I might just be able to read a lot more than what I have been doing!  Anyway, back to this book!  This book has a lot of creepy aspects to it, including the witches themselves.  The witches in this book are really nasty horrible creatures who want to rid the world of children by killing them.  They decide really horrible ways of getting rid of them and are now moving on to bigger and better plans.

If you haven't read this before and like creepy witch stories, give this a go.  It might surprise you.  I would even go as far as to recommend the audio book if you want an extra creepy experience...

24 Nov 2015

Book Review / The Years of Loving You by Ella Harper

From the award-winning author of PIECES OF YOU comes this enthralling love story, guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and dream upon a star…

What if your first love was your only love?

When Molly is diagnosed with a life changing illness, it feels like her whole world has come crashing down. She hopes the news will make her marriage to Sam stronger. But why does Molly always call best friend Ed in a crisis?

Ed. The very same Ed that Molly fell in love with at a party when they were teenagers, underneath a star-filled sky. Then life took them in very different directions. They could only ever be friends.

Suddenly Molly starts to question every decision she’s ever made. What if they could turn back the clock? Back to the very beginning. When the only certainty they shared was each other …

Published:     19th November 2015
Publisher:  Avon Books
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I loved about this story...  
After reading her first book, Pieces of You, I was very excited to to read this new story.  Like with Pieces of You, this story does have a very large 'emotional pull' to the story.  It just pulls you in and you really feel for the characters, especially the main character Molly who is diagnosed with an life changing illness that for obvious reasons changes the way you think about life and relationships etc...  Right from the beginning I have to admit that I was hoping that Molly and Ed get together, which is the one question that doesn't really get answered until nearer the end of the book.  I didn't particularly warm very much to Sam, Molly's husband.  There are obvious reasons for this but won't go too much into that because of spoilers.  What I also enjoyed was that not only do we follow Molly and her story we follow Ed and his story.  His story was just as emotional as Molly's.  

Ella has a way of making characters feel real and the plot so addicting with plenty of twists and turns along the way.  I loved this story and can't wait for her next one!!

23 Nov 2015

Author Interview / Earl Javorsky

Things haven't been going well for Charlie Miner. His work as a private investigator involves him with an endless roster of shady characters. His ex-wife is borderline crazy. And he hasn't been getting to spend anywhere near enough time with his teenage daughter Mindy, the one person in his life who truly matters to him.

When he wakes up on a slab in the morgue with a hole in his head, though, things get even worse.

Just before the shooting, Charlie was investigating a case involving fraud, gold, religious zealots, and a gorgeous woman who seemed to be at the center of everything. Even with a fatal bullet wound, Charlie can connect the dots from the case to his attack. And when his daughter is abducted by someone involved, the stakes get exponentially higher. Charlie needs to find Mindy before the criminals do the same thing to her that they did to him.

After that, maybe he'll try to figure out how he's walking around dead.

Irreverent, circuitous, and surprisingly touching, Down Solo introduces a crisp new voice to suspense fiction.
1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? Tough question. There are so many authors whose work I love, and yet probably very few I can imagine working with. Elmore Leonard is gone, so there goes boot camp with the master. I would listen very carefully to everything James Lee Burke had to tell me, but our styles differ so greatly that working together (not sure what that means, really) would be problematic. Same with Cormac McCarthy. I’ll go with Nic Pizzolatto, whose book Galveston has a lot of heart, and who was able to take his vision of a noir crime story to the screen with True Detective.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? A typical day for me is waking up at ten, making breakfast and playing Scrabble with my wife, and then doing stuff like I’m doing now: interviews, networking and promotion, social media, etc. I do editing and proofreading work, so I get to read a lot of good work and get paid for it. Finally, once in a while, I’ll go on a week-long creative jag and crank out some material. Right now, I’m two months behind on my contract deadline for a third book (a sequel to Down Solo). I am not a disciplined worker.

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

4. When and why did you first start writing? I wanted to be a writer pretty early. When I was about fourteen, I got the meanest English teacher in my high school. She kicked five people out in the first five minutes of class, and I was likely going to be the sixth. I got poor grades on my first few papers and decided I was going to step up my game. I started getting As, which served as affirmation that I was good with words on paper. My thought was to go into journalism, but I got distracted by the music world.

5. How did you come up with the idea for your book? Down Solo was just an off-the-wall idea that came to me out of the blue: A character wakes up looking down at his body on a gurney in the morgue. When he hovers closer to it, it pulls him back in and he finds he can make it move. Now he needs to know who put the bullet in his brain. From there it’s pretty much a Chandleresque mystery, but with a touch of Stephen King. In Trust Me, I had a model for the protagonist (myself) and for the villain.

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? Giant reader. Always have been. I call myself a print junkie; I read while I pee (I’ll pick a random page in the AP style book). I started with science fiction when I was a kid, then moved on to the Beat stuff, dabbled in literary until I realized it mostly didn’t interest me, and then just went eclectic, from Borges to Jonathan Lethem, Iain Pears to Robert Crais. Right now I’m reading Assumption, by Percival Everrett, whom I had never heard of until I read about him in The Atlantic.

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers? Sure. Read, write, take a class. Join a read-critique group. Leave it when the experience gets old, but stay in touch with the people you liked. It helps to be in a culture of writers and not exist in a creative vacuum. Read Strunk and White. Own a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. Know the rules so can break them. Be satisfied with the intimacy you can create with whoever reads your work and hears you as you want to be heard.

Earl Javorsky is a writer and editor living in Oceanside, CA. You can read more about him and his books at www.earljavorsky.com.

19 Nov 2015

Book Review / The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. 

Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. 

He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Published:     18th October 2011
Publisher:   Scholastic Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source: Owned

After reading the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (and loving it!) a while ago I remembered that I had this one on my shelf that I had not read yet (too many books on shelves, books hidden behind books = bookgeek problems!).  The only book that I hadn't been able to get through by this author is The Raven Boys but its on my list to try again soon.  This story just sounded so different, I can't remember whether I have ever read a book that was mainly about horses so this was a new reading experience for me.  

I loved this book so much.  It was very slow paced so this was one of those stories that you could really sit back, relax, read and enjoy the story.  It does have an added 'supernatural' style twist in it with horses that come from the sea who seem to feed on blood.  Every year there is a race with the horses and this year Puck decides to ride.  Being that she is the first female to ride in this race she does come up with some resistance from the others.   There is a lot of back story with Puck and her family and also with Sean.  Although there is a hint to romance between Puck and Sean, I didn't really see much of that - the main story was the horse race and what was happening in the village at the time.

I loved this story.   If you are already a fan of Maggie Stiefvater and haven't picked this up yet you should.  If you haven't tried her writing yet this is definitely a great one to start with. 

16 Nov 2015

Author Interview / Hilary Grossman

    How well do you really know the people in your life? 

    Annabel O’Conner has the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job, and the mother from hell! Annabel doesn’t like it but has come to terms with the fact that her relationship with her mother, Bea, deteriorated to the point of forced and strained communications. However, an unscheduled call from Bea turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believed about her life.

    Despite the fact secrets, lies, and misplaced blame have destroyed the women’s relationship; Annabel reluctantly agrees to help Bea plan her wedding. Little does Annabel know the impact of her decision.

    In this Women’s Contemporary Fiction novel, Hilary Grossman explores the complex relationship that exists between mothers and daughters in a light-hearted and relatable manner.

  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Without a doubt, Jen Lancaster! Not only is she my absolute favorite author, she is the reason I started writing. I hate to admit this, but before I read Bitter Is The New Black I had no idea what a blog or a memoir was. That book motivated me to stop dreaming about writing and actually start writing. In fact, I launched my blog days after finishing the book 

  1. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
I have the most non-author-like day job. I am a CFO of a beverage alcohol import and distribution company and my office is over an hour away from my home. So during the week I wake up at 5:30 to catch up on social media and blog. By the time I get home from work, I can barely see straight yet alone look at a computer. So I never write during the week. But I spent the weekends writing. I write at home. My first book, Dangled Carat I wrote at my dining room table. My second, Plan Bea, I wrote on my living room couch. I have only written a few chapters of Plan Cee I did so at the island in my kitchen.

  1. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
The hardest part of writing for me is finding the time. I wish there were more hours in a day so that I could write daily. I also wish I could figure out a way to have my laptop in the shower with me – because that is where I get the best ideas!

  1. When and why did you first start writing? 
I just checked my blog, and my first post was February 2010. I got to admit I’m shocked at how many years passed. Time sure does fly! Although I always wanted to write a book, and started many over the years, I never stuck it out. I started my blog to see if I had the wherewithal to actually keep at it. I also wanted to see if anyone would connect with my writing. I was shocked how much I enjoyed writing and how many amazing friendships I have developed as a result.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for the book your book? 
A couple of years ago, my neighbor and dear friend lost his wife of almost forty years to cancer. He met another woman, and fell in love with her. While it was difficult for me to see him with another lady, I loved seeing how happy he was. But more than that, he was almost like a new man. He did things with his second wife that he never did with his first. It got me thinking about the power of love and how a second chance relationship could change a person.

Plan Bea is about a mother and daughter whose relationship has been ruined by secrets, lies, and misplaced blame. Yet, when the mother, Bea, announces she is getting remarried, her daughter, Annabel, reluctantly agrees to help. Little did Annabel know the impact of her decision or the surprise that is in store for her.

  1. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 
I am, although I read more in the summer than I do in the winter. I just started reading Jill Knapp’s latest book You’ll Find Me In Manhattan.

  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Just write. Don’t worry about anything besides telling your story.  The next steps – looking for an agent, publication, cover design, sales, etc – they will all work out… There are so many options available to authors now!  Also, I would advise to develop a thick skin and don’t take rejection personally.  If possible, gear yourself up for rejection and almost expect it.  The vast majority of first time authors will not be able to secure an agent.  Don’t let it discourage you…. Instead embrace the small victories along the way. And enjoy the small moments and remember, you are doing something that most people only dream of!

12 Nov 2015

Book Review / Dark Visions Trilogy by LJ Smith


Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider. Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned her a reputation as a witch. But Kait's not a witch: she's psychic. Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can study with other psychic teens and have a fresh start.

As Kaitlyn learns to hone her abilities with four other gifted students, she starts to discover the intensity of her power - and the joy of having true friends. But those friendships quickly become complicated when Kait finds herself torn between two irresistible guys. Rob is a healer - kind and gentle, he's surrounded by good energy, while Gabriel is aggressive and mysterious - a telepath concealing his true nature. Together, Rob and Gabriel's opposing forces start to threaten the group's stability, and when an experiment traps the five teens in a psychic link - a link that threatens their sanity and their lives - Kaitlyn must decide who to trust and who to love...

Published:     3rd September 2009
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1, 2 & 3, Dark Visions
Source:  Owned

Well, I thought it was about time I read this one since it has been on my shelf since it came out in 2009!!!  I am, at the moment, working through my massive TBR pile at home and attempting to read all of the books I own rather than buying new ones and reading those.  I bought those old ones for a reason and its about time I got to it!  This one was one of those and after obsessively watching The Vampire Diaries, catching up on past seasons, I was really feeling like I wanted more from this author so I decided to pick this up.  I am so glad that I did. 

LJ Smith just has a way of grabbing your attention from the first page and never letting you go until the very end.  Luckily each of these three books in this bind up are about 250 pages approx each so it really didn't take too long to read them.  You have Kaitlyn who can predict the future through drawing.   She goes to this institute with other people with similar abilities some make friends and some don't.  There is a somewhat live triangle type situation going on in this trilogy but it wasn't one that was the main story, more of a backstory.  There is a great mixture of good versus bad in this story with you not knowing who was who at some points.  For the most part this trilogy was very predictable but I enjoyed it nonetheless. 


10 Nov 2015

Book Review / Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

My name is Tess Turner - at least, that's what I've always been told.

I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren't the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father's blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess's eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

Published:     1st October 2015
Publisher:  Orion Children's Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

What I loved about this book... I have to say that this was a very interesting read for me.  It definitely dug a lot deeper emotional wise than I originally thought.  In this story we follow the main character Tess who discovers something shocking, so shocking that she retreats into silence as her way of coping.   There is a lot I can't say as I don't want to spoil the story for those of you who haven't read this one but this book deals with some hard hitting issues and I felt the author deal with them perfectly

What I was not fond of with this book...  In this story Tess has a certain way of communication when she in her silence zone and although I felt it was dealt with very well I did at times find it very confusing.

In summary...  I really enjoyed following Tess through her discovering what was on her father's computer, through her retreat into silence and what happens after that.  This book does deal with a couple of heavy subjects that I wasn't expecting but loved reading through.  I would highly recommend this as a good emotional read - perhaps one for the winter months?

9 Nov 2015

Author Interview / Nicole L Rivera

Christianity meets Potter-fandom in this new devotional

Nicole L Rivera, Creative Team Manager for the Harry Potter fansite, MuggleNet, marries faith with fandom in Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter. A Christ-follower for ten years and Potter-fan for fourteen years, Nicole set out to write a thesis exploring the parallels between the Bible and the Harry Potter series for her Master of Arts in creative writing. She didn’t expect the four-hundred-plus page essay to become a series of ebooks and now a book in a variety of formats.
Nicole has been fascinated with Harry Potter since the summer before her Junior year in High School. By now, she’s re-read the series many times. Once she discovered Christ and began to study the Bible, the parallels between her favorite story and her new favorite story sparked her interest in seeking the Christ-narrative and messages in modern-day tales and using those tales as a way to better understand the Christian faith.

Nicole explains, “I originally entitled this book, The Parable of Harry Potter, because I believe the Harry Potter story is a parable of Christian values and of the Christ-story, whether intended by the author or not. I hope my book will serve as a tool for Harry Potter fans to grow deeper in their faith, or explore faith in Christ for the first time. I consider this book like the great house of Hufflepuff. All are welcome."
You can find Nicole's Potter-related articles at www.mugglenet.com/author/nicole and connect with her and stay up-to-date on her latest projects through her website, www.nicolelrivera.com.

Finding Unauthorized Faith blog: https://potterwars.wordpress.com/ 
Preorder this book here -  https://potterwars.wordpress.com/the-book/

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Hmmm... That is a hard one. The most obvious answer would be J.K. Rowling, but they say that once you meet your heroes you may be disappointed. Part of me would rather not have the magic spoiled. The other, probably larger part, would jump on the opportunity in a second. 

If I was granted the use of the Resurrection Stone, I'd go with Jane Austen. We don't even have to write anything, I'd just love to hear her give a lecture on her life and writing philosophies. 

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
I actually have a to-do list flow chart for my day. I start with exercise (which, let's be honest, is really just stretching) and I read while I'm doing this. Got to hit that Goodreads reading goal, lol. Then I move on to what I call "God Time" where I read my Bible, pray, etc. I also work on my PotterWars: Finding Unauthorized Faith post for the day. 
Next is "Skills" time where I flip through my vocabulary words on my Kindle and work on an in-depth analysis of one of my favorite books. So far I've gone scene-by-scene through the Twilight series, and I just started re-typing and taking notes on Prisoner of Azkaban. I find re-typing books I love helps me to get more into the author's head and analyze how they write and structure their plots. 
After all that is done, I move on to the actual writing time. Right now I'm working on planning out characters for a fictional series I'm working on. One thing I've learned from Rowling is to be a meticulous planner. I plan on taking several months, possibly a year, to get all my plans in place before writing the series. Although I have worked on a few scenes. Once I've done all I can for my current WIP for the day, I switch gears and get into writing, editing, managing mode for my job at MuggleNet. And usually later in the evening I work on marketing (which is a must for all authors if you want people to actually read your books). 
I finish my days around 10pm usually with reading and smoothie sipping. Sometimes that turns into baking cookies and watching Star Wars, depends on if I've had a rough day or not. 

I also have a few side jobs I fit into this schedule because, you know, the power company won't let me pay in stories. ;) 

When and where? Anywhere and at any and all times. I have Evernote ready to go on my phone so I can stop whenever an idea pops into my head. I also work on my plots in my head as I go through the day so that when I hit the laptop (whose name is Maci) I am ready to go. I think, to be a writer, you have to be a writer 24/7, even when not writing. You should be either working on a plot in your head, reading a book while dissecting the craft of the author, or hunting for words and unique names and descriptions. I also dissect and ruin every movie and TV show I watch with my husband. I'm getting better at keeping my mouth shut, but it's hard when I get around my family because we all try to predict the plot five minutes into whatever we are watching (drives the Hubby crazy). 

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
Always feeling like I want to do more of it but not having enough hours or having to do pesky chores (grocery shopping, grrr). Also, marketing can be a drag when it feels like you are putting yourself out there and no one is responding (or very few people are). 

4. When and why did you first start writing? 
Birth? Lol. I've always been a story lover, I just didn't realize it was my calling until I was 23 (after getting a degree in accounting, spending a semester in law school, and another semester in business school). I've also been writing stories, poems, plays, letters, since I could actually write. The only time I got away from writing as often was during a rocky couple of years in my early twenties, but I still wrote a bit here and there. Right after I got married and hit the what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life wall, that is when I felt called to make writing my full-time gig. Or at least focus. 

5. How did you come up with the idea for the book your book? 
I actually didn't. Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter was a paper I wrote for my masters in creative writing (I actually completed this degree). It was my professor, Ken Kuhlken, who came up with the idea. He has his own publishing company, Hickey's Books, and offered to publish it. We started by publishing the book as seven separate e-books. These did fairly well, so we did a ton of editing down (all the e-books put together were over 400 pages), and now the physical (and e-book) compilation is set to release on December 10, 2015. 

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 
Yes. Right now, because I can't just read one book at a time, I'm reading Lady Susan by Jane Austen, Avengers: Solo Avengers Classic by a slue of comic book authors from Marvel circa 1987-88, and Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey. 

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Write. Be strong and courageous. Be a Gryffindor (brave), a Slytherin (cunning), a Ravenclaw (constant learner), and a Hufflepuff (hard working—go Puffs!). Never stop learning and improving your craft. Study your favorite stories (they say JK read Emma 27 times while she was planning the Potter books). You've got to know stories. Know how you want to write and why you want to write that way; the only way to do this is to be a story scholar—read seriously, ask questions of the stories you watch/read, pull them apart until you see how they tick. 

And, from JKR herself: Planning, planning, planning. 

But first and foremost: never stop writing. 

5 Nov 2015

Book Review / Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

The epic made simple. The miracle in the mundane.

One day, while browsing an antique store in Helena, Montana, photographer Tyler Knott Gregson stumbled upon a vintage Remington typewriter for sale. Standing up and using a page from a broken book he was buying for $2, he typed a poem without thinking, without planning, and without the ability to revise anything.

He fell in love.

Three years and almost one thousand poems later, Tyler is now known as the creator of the Typewriter Series: a striking collection of poems typed onto found scraps of paper or created via blackout method. Chasers of the Light features some of his most insightful and beautifully worded pieces of work—poems that illuminate grand gestures and small glimpses, poems that celebrate the beauty of a life spent chasing the light.

Published:     2nd September 2014
Publisher:  Perigee Books
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Review Copy
This is one of the most beautiful piece of writing I have ever read.  And that is a sentence that I don't write lightly.  From page 1 this book was filled with so much emotion that I just couldn't bear to put it down.  In the space of one day I read this book from start to finish with not so much as a tea break in between.  Yes it was a quick read but as they say quality not quantity is the best.  With the unique twist of being typed not on a computer but on a typewriter and photocopied into a book that added a lot of fun to reading this.  Some were typed on pages torn out of a book and some where typed on the back of receipts.  It just gave it that extra something that made me love this book so much more.

For me, the main theme that came out of this book was love and with love being one of the things that I love to read, this one was definitely going to be a winner in my books. 

Poems are a new thing for me, never having read any before.  I couldn't think of a better way to introduce myself to reading poems than this one.  I loved it!  I can guarantee you that I will be looking into reading anything else by this author... 

3 Nov 2015

Book Review / Don't Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

Published:     15th April 2014
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

This book was definitely a very creepy read and a great one to pick up in Halloween season!  This story had a great combination of suspense, drama and at some points humour.

What I loved about this story...  From the very first page this book gave me the creeps.  You see Cassie stepping out from wherever she came from with no knowledge of who she was or where she had been.  With her best friend missing while she 'walks free' it immediately made me doubt every single character in this book including Cassie.  The way that the information was given to me bit by bit throughout the story kept my attention going right to the very last page.  I had to know what happened and the fact that Cassie was discovering all these things at the same time too made it a lot more interesting.  The ending was definitely a shocker for me, I definitely did not see that coming. 

What I was not fond of with this story...  Absolutely nothing.  I loved this story from start to finish.  

2 Nov 2015

Author Interview / Will Everett

More aid workers are killed in Afghanistan than anywhere else in the world – twice as many as the next highest country. These projects are conducted in some of the most dangerous areas by civilian workers with no weapons or training, relying instead on military support. This unusual environment, where improvements are made against incredible human odds, is journalist and aid worker Will Everett’s forthcoming novel, We’ll Live Tomorrow (September 2015).
In an aid compound in southern Afghanistan, under the watchful eyes of the Taliban, We’ll Live Tomorrow follows Hunter Ames, an American grappling with a dark family history and a growing midlife malaise. As he tries to find meaning in the chaos, he meets the mysterious Karimullah, a former bacha bazi or “dancing boy” hunted by his master. These two lost souls strike up an unusual friendship in war-torn Afghanistan – Karimullah looking for sanctuary after years of exploitation at the hands of a violent master, and Hunter trying to come to terms with his own tragic past. But menacing forces surround them, imbuing their friendship with the promise of salvation and the prospect of tragedy.
Many Americans don’t understand why we continue to pump aid money into a country where no appreciable change seems to be in sight,” says Everett. “We’ll Live Tomorrow is coming out at a time when many nations have pulled out of Afghanistan. Many Americans wonder why we’re still there. Through the book, and its layered characters, I hope to give readers a humanistic and intimate look at a country the U.S. has spent so much time supporting, yet at the same time, truly know little about.”
Touted as “a tribute to human tenderness, resilience, and ambiguity in the face of war,” We’ll Live Tomorrow will appeal to readers who:
  • Want a behind-the-scenes look at how expensive American aid projects are conducted in Afghanistan.
  • Are interested in a unique foray into a little-visited corner of Afghan culture.
  • Like the protagonist, face midlife issues and search for meaning
About Will Everett:

As a journalist, Will Everett has reported from the Middle East, South Asia and West Africa for National Public Radio, the BBC, and other outlets. With Walter Cronkite, he wrote and produced the 2006 documentary, The World War One Living History Project, the only media project to honor the last surviving veterans of WWI. His work has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalists, the New York Festivals, and the National Headliner Awards.

Everett holds a master's degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. A native of Texas, he currently lives and works in Afghanistan.

We’ll Live Tomorrow is available from Amazon.

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t want to work with any author I admire.  And not just because most of them are dead.  I don’t want to peek behind the curtain and meet the wizard making the magic happen. “Don’t tell me too much,” Henry James used to say when someone started telling him a story that ignited his imagination.  And for me it’s the same with writers.  There’s something wonderfully mysterious about the creative process and you can defile it with too much familiarity.

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I’m a seasonal writer.  I don’t write year-round.  I write quickly and aggressively, then break off from it for a few months so I can forget about it. You need to have that built into the process, the forgetting.  It’s good to have multiple projects going, like pots on the stove.  While this one is simmering you move on to another one.  It keeps you from getting creatively stale on any one project.

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Seeing the work clearly.  Seeing it for what it is and not simply what I want it to be.  We’re all afflicted by the curse of knowledge.  The writer knows the material but can’t see it from the perspective of someone just coming to it for the first time.  Did I explain it well?  Did I say too much, or not enough?  That’s why disconnecting from a work in progress is so important to the process.  There’s no rush. Go work on something else for a while.

It's also hard to know when you've got the right amount of material to get started.  You have an idea and you want to just get on with it, but sometimes you haven't found the idea behind the idea.  I've been keeping an audio diary for years.  I have hundreds and hundreds of little tapes full of ideas.  Sometimes by the end of a long walk I've had multiple Eurekas just because I talked through it.  I'll leave the house full of questions and come home full of answers. People always see me on the street talking into that thing and wonder what the hell I'm doing.  But that's what works for me.

4. When and why did you first start writing?
It happened about the same time as I lost interest in God and religion.  Maybe I wanted to play Creator for a while.  I’ve always been amazed when a writer can make a world come alive by just throwing some words together.  Conrad said something like “my job as a writer is to make you hear, feel and most of all to see.”  I wanted to be the guy who could do that.  And then I found out how hard it was.  It’s not about the words at all, it’s about architecture.  I think Conrad knew that.
5. How did you come up with the idea for We’ll Live Tomorrow?
A writer is always in search of a subject that few people know about, or an unusual twist to an old story. I started working in southern Afghanistan in 2010, a crazy, dangerous time.  I was living in a compound in downtown Kandahar, the only project brave or stupid enough to try to conduct business in that seething environment.  It was profoundly exciting and scary. When people think about the Afghan war they think about the military, but most aren’t aware of the tens of thousands of aid workers who are there too, with no weapons or military training. And of course most of us don’t know a thing about how our taxpayer dollars are being spent over there. I wasn’t out to do an Upton Sinclair on the aid industry, but I felt it was a subject that people needed to know about.

Along the way I became aware of the growing prevalence of
bacha bazi, the practice of warlords and commanders abducting Afghan boys into sexual slavery.  The Afghans I knew were always joking about bacha bazi, but I knew it was a serious problem when I started meeting victims of the practice. And so a secondary character emerged, a young man who had been sold into slavery to a wealthy Kandahar landowner and abused in terrible ways.  This kid comes in contact with Hunter, the aid worker dealing with life issues from his own haunted past.  It’s a novel about the transformative power of love and friendship, and the ambiguity of human sexuality.
6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I’m reading Gillian Flynn’s
Dark Places.  She’s a guilty pleasure of mine, a real devil.  Another recent discovery is the German writer Bernhard Schlink.  He wrote The Reader, but his short stories are amazing works of minimalist invention.
7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Forget about outcomes.  Find validation in other parts of your life. If you’re meant to write, it’ll be its own reward, and the desired outcomes will follow.  But it’s a slow process.  If you’re doing it to become rich and famous, best of luck.

I would also advise writers not to get bogged down in any one form.  I used to think I was only interested in writing fiction, and then found that I had a flair for nonfiction as well.  I didn't think of myself as a poet, but when I was offered a chance to write some lyrics <
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vyt2NpXtMNc> , I jumped at it.  These are all different muscle groups.  You don't want to work out your arms and forget about your legs.

1 Nov 2015

Month in Review / October 2015

Hi!  What a fantastic reading month October was!   I'm not one for celebrating Halloween too much (which we don't generally do a lot of here in England anyway) so I decided not to just stick to spooky reads.  There were quite a lot that really interested me this month and I managed to read 9 books, which I am really happy about!  If I had to pick my favourite out of the below it would have to be the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.  These have been on my shelf for absolutely ages and I thought it was about time I picked these up.  I am so glad that I did.  I loved them!  I know there is another book after Specials called Extras which I did attempt to read but didn't continue with.  Extras does not start where Specials left off.  It pushes us quite a way into the future with new characters and new circumstances.  To be honest I was so confused by this and a bit sad that this wasn't a continuation I deeded not to finish reading it.  I will pick it up again at another point.  I hope you all had great reading months and are getting ready for November!!

SHE'S TAKING CHARGE  Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.

HE'S RUNNING THE SHOW  Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.

BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL  In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.

Nell Goodman is a good daughter. Her job in the local brewery is the only thing keeping her and her mother afloat. But with her mother becoming increasingly eccentric and requiring more and more attention, Nell is starting to feel the burden of her responsibilities. Nell asks George Wilmot, the brewery's owner, for help and he offers her a job as a live-in servant at Wilmot Grange. While working at the Grange, Nell begins to grow closer to Devlin, George's son, and it looks like Nell's luck is finally changing. Yet, an unwelcome discovery and an unexpected tragedy shakes everything. Devlin pulls away from Nell, her mother's behavior grows worse, and there are secrets around every corner. Somehow Nell finds herself in the heart of all the drama with no idea of the part she is supposed to play.  

A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.

On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.

In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.

What if your first love was your only love?
When Molly is diagnosed with a life changing illness, it feels like her whole world has come crashing down. She hopes the news will make her marriage to Sam stronger. But why does Molly always call best friend Ed in a crisis?

Ed. The very same Ed that Molly fell in love with at a party when they were teenagers, underneath a star-filled sky. Then life took them in very different directions. They could only ever be friends.
Suddenly Molly starts to question every decision she’s ever made. What if they could turn back the clock? Back to the very beginning. When the only certainty they shared was each other …

(description from book 1 in the season, this is book 3)  Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.

As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.

On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth - that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends - Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer - at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.

My name is Tess Turner - at least, that's what I've always been told.

I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren't the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father's blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess's eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler's problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she's finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.

But the car's new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle's life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.

Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William's final book about the Schuyler sisters.


The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.
But this is no virtual threat.
As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.
Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?
Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?