28 Jul 2016

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Book Review / The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope J Stokes

Four friends gathered in a cold, dusty attic on Christmas day to make a solemn pact.

“Our dreams for the future,” they whispered, placing tiny pieces of paper into a shimmering blue bottle.

But that event happened in 1929, and it is decades later when local news reporter Brenna Delaney stumbles upon that bottle . . . and into the most meaningful story of her career.

Life has taken those four girls’ dreams of love, fame, and faith on a path fraught with seduction, betrayal, and loss. Little has turned out as expected—and yet every choice, every tear has led each of them to a special place.

Brenna’s search will uncover the secrets of that Blue Bottle Club . . . and her own life will never be the same.




Published:     12th December 2011
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned

MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  This book has been on my bookshelf for ages!  This was one of those ones that I saw someone do a review of, loved the sound of it, bought it but never got around to reading it.  I am so glad that I decided to pick this one up finally!  I loved it.  You have Brenna who is a reporter who is given the Blue Bottle (the one that the four friends had left their wishes in many many years before) and goes on a mission to find these women and see what they are doing now.  This book sends such great messages with each and every woman's story.  The message I took from this is that no matter what your wishes are when you are younger, your life may have not turned out how you thought it would be but that does not mean that its not just as good as you had hoped or even better!


What I didn't like about this book...  I would have loved to have seen more of Brenna's story.  I know that this story was more about the four women who left their wishes in the blue bottle but this story left me thinking that I would have loved to have heard a bit more about Brenna and her back story.  

I know that I will definitely be looking into more stories by this author!


Continue reading Book Review / The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope J Stokes

25 Jul 2016

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Book Revew / After You by Jojo Moyes

To avoid spoilers, below is a description of book 1 in this duology, Me Before You.

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.




Published:     29th September 2015
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, Me Before You
Source:  Owned

MY REVIEW

I have to be honest and say that I was very sceptical when it came to reading this book.  I really wasn't sure that I wanted to read it, not because I didn't think it would be good but because after reading Me Before You (which I loved) would this second book match up to how much I loved the first book?  After looking at some reviews I decided to bite the bullet and read it.  I am so glad that I did.  What this second book lacked in emotion compared to the first book it made up for in the surprise that turns up at Lou's doorsteps and what she does next.  Not only does she rise to the occasion but she goes above and beyond, I believe, to do what is right.

This second book is so much more than just what happens with Lou next after the first book, more storyline and more characters to meet.  If you haven't already, give this second book a go.  It's worth it, believe me.








Continue reading Book Revew / After You by Jojo Moyes

22 Jul 2016

Author Interview / Debbie Howells


 From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover's past.

"I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . ."

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose--and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April's name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

Or so everyone believes. . .

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.


Credit: The Beauty of The End by Debbie Howells is published by Pan, priced £7.99
  1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?

Jojo Moyes or Rosamund Lupton. Their characters are completely believable and they make you feel the emotions they write.


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

I get up early and walk my dog, then try to start writing around 8am. This involves much procrastination before I get down to actually working, but then I’ll keep writing until I need a break – usually early afternoon in the form of another dog walk.

When I’m really immersed, I’ll write into the evening, and even get up in the night for two or three hours.

I write either at my kitchen table or from a big, comfy sofa. Both rooms have big windows and views of trees and sky – I need to be alone and it needs to be quiet. I’ve tried writing in caf├ęs but there are too many distractions!

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

The part where I’m trying to plot the twists and turns that keep the reader turning the pages. Sometimes it feels like my brain is tied in knots. It’s usually all in my head where it makes perfect sense, but translating it into words in a time frame that makes
sense to the reader can be a challenge!

4.  When and why did you first start writing?

I loved writing at school – it’s fair to say, more than anything else. Over the years, I’ve started several novels, only to give up after a few chapters, which invariably – and rightly - ended up in the bin. Then a few years ago, I started writing more seriously. I was running my own wedding floristry business and it was the most hectic summer I’d ever known. I gave myself Mondays off, so I’d sit in the garden and write, as an escape. I finished my first novel and submitted it to agents. It was rejected, but I had enough positive feedback to encourage me to keep writing.

In all, I wrote 3 novels which were all commercial women’s fiction. The third, Wildflowers, caught the eye of 6 agents who all ultimately rejected it. I self-published all of them and they all sold quite well, but it was at that point I knew, that if I wanted a traditional publishing deal, I was going to have to write something different.

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

The Bones of You came from a combination of ideas. I had this narcissistic character in my head who refused to go away and who I felt compelled to write about. It coincided with a time where suddenly I became aware of the issue of emotional abuse. I couldn’t believe how invisible it was and the more I learned about it, the more I wanted to write about it. I had the idea also, of telling Rosie’s story as her life flashed before her eyes.

All these came together as I started to write.

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

I love to read - my one complaint is that I don’t have enough time for it! As a published author, I often get sent books so my to-read pile is huge. At the moment I’m reading Cathy Rentzenbrink’s The Last Act of Love.

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

I think when you start, it can feel daunting. I used to read other writers’ stories to publication – they were like fairytales that had come true… I kept reminding myself that however unlikely it seemed that I’d ever be published, it wasn’t impossible and I kept writing - through all the rejections – and there were many. It took several years, but that’s often the way.

Rejection is a fact of life for most writers. By agents, then maybe by publishers, too. Take it on the chin, revise, write another book. It’s the only way forward.

Even when the doubts set in, when you don’t think anything you write will ever be good enough, keep writing. It’s a subjective business. Not everyone likes every book. And you learn with everything you write.
There are two things I read quite early on, that stayed with me. The first was that the writers who get published are the ones who don’t give up – it sounds obvious but it’s true. The second is, not to write with an axe to grind, but to write with love.



Continue reading Author Interview / Debbie Howells

21 Jul 2016

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Blog Tour Book Review / The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

**Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a very special little cookbook shop is about to open its doors…**

In the beginning…

Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ can’t fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.

Forty years later…

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.

But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…





Published:     14th July 2016
Publisher:  Avon
Goodreads :  Click here 

Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


MY REVIEW

What I loved about this story...
The best part of this story for me was the character of Della.  We see her at the beginning of the story having lost her mum and dealing with the aftermath, including inheriting her mother's cookbook collection (900 + of them) (at her choice) and deciding what to do next.   The more the story goes on the more I watched Della become her own person, finding happiness that had seemed to have eluded her in recent years.  This is definately one of those 'feel good' reads that you can definately take down to the beach or pool or whever you fancy.  Just sit back, relax and enjoy the story - I certainly did!

What I didn't like about this story...
Now,  this is not a reflection on the writing or the author or anything of that sort  I really did enjoy the story.  It was just that there were a few characters that I really disliked and really 'rubbed me the wrong way' so to speak.  One in particular was Della's husband who always seemed a bit shify , never supprtive, mostly always negative and seemed to always want to have things his way.  A few other characters that I really didn't like were Della's family, in particular her brother and sister-in-law. I really did feel sorry for Della having to deal with them.

Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

18 Jul 2016

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Book Review / Me Before You by Jojo Moyes



Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.




Published:     5th January 2012
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Me Before You
Source:  Owned Copy

 
MY REVIEW

I have had this book on my TBR for years!  It's funny how a book can stay on a shelf for absolutely ages but the minute you hear the movie of it is coming out you have to read it.  This is one of those cases for me and I am so glad that I did pick it up!  For me, the best part of this story was the character progression of Will and Lou.  You see Will at the beginning already defeated, wanting to give up and push everyone away and you see Lou sort of at a dead end, not really knowing what to do next when she stumbles into becoming Will's carer.  The dynamic between Will and Lou is entertaining and heartbreaking to read.  As the story goes in you see both characters change in ways they never expected and certainly I never expected.  And the ending... full of emotion.  Without giving away spoilers, that was a very emotional read.  





Continue reading Book Review / Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

11 Jul 2016

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Book Review / Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.


Published:     24th July 2012
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, Something Strange and Deadly
Source:  Owned Copy

MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  This was a very interesting read for me.  Although, for reasons I will give below, I didn't get on very well with this book the element that I did enjoy a lot and the main reason I carried on reading until the end was the mix of history and zombies.  It was a very weird mix.  On the one hand you are in this world (can't remember what time period but I would guess around the 1870s) and on the other hand you have these zombies that are terrorising the living.  This was something new to me and one that I found funny in places and also quite creepy in other places.

What I didn't like about this book...  Honestly, I just could not get into it.  Despite enjoying the zombie olden days feel to the story, I really didn't feel much for the characters, especially the main character Eleanor.  Bearing in mind that she is 16 years old in a world where she is not allowed to go anywhere without a chaperone, she seems to be able to pretty much anything she pleases.  That confused me.  One other aspect of this story that completely confused me was the fact that Eleanor's brother goes missing in the beginning of the book and her main aim is to find her brother and help him.  That all seems to be forgotten not very long into the book and not mentioned much until nearer the end of the book.  I had expected more of a 'I need to find my brother' type of story but it wasn't. 

That being said, I think this was a lot more to do with my reading tastes and my mood at the time rather rather than the writing, which was really good.  I don't think I will be continuing on with this series but will look out for more work by this author.   




Continue reading Book Review / Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

6 Jul 2016

Author Interview / Saskia de Coster



In a Flemish housing estate on top of a mountain lives the Vandersanden family. The neurotic, aristocratic Mieke combs her carpets while keeping a close eye on her family and her neighbours. Her husband, the self-made man Stefaan, is building up a career in a pharmaceutical company that is threatened by scandal. Daughter Sarah, overprotected by her parents and curious for the real life, is finding her own path, much like the rest of her generation. Will Sarah become the victim of the big family secret, or will she succeed in breaking an old pattern?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
Virginia Woolf is very important to me. Hence the title of my book 'Me and We', a quote of hers. I would love to work with Virginia Woolf. Or rather: I would just sit at her feet and watch her write, follow her process of writing and especially rewriting as that is the most fruitful way of learning. I imagine her crammed in a tiny sofa, with a writing board on her lap, chain-smoking and thinking. Without the internet! 

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
As I not only write novels but am also involved in a lot of projects with visual artists and musicians, my days are not very much alike. When I am working on a novel, I am very hard on myself and disciplined. The last month of finishing a manuscript looks like this: I get up very early (around 6 o'clock) as I can't get much sleep, I start writing immediately, with the help of strong coffee, then around 10 I eat and drink and then continue writing. In the afternoon, I usually go running then eat something and continue working till late I get to sleep around midnight. 
3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
The hardest part is the part you always want to skip: the moment you realize you are not there yet. In fact, you realize that you need to cut out a passage or character that you really love. In other words, he moment of killing your darlings.
4.  When and why did you first start writing?
As a child, I was so fond of statues and I remade them myself, with paper and clay etc. I started remaking the original. It made me realize I wanted not only to copy the world, but make it mine. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
We and Me is a family novel, set in Flanders in an upper class family. I researched the theme for eighteen years, that is to say: I spent my entire childhood in such an environment and based my novel loosely on that experience. For a long time, I thought I was a very independent individual, until the moment I heard myself say something and it was as if my mother was speaking through my mouth, although we have often disagreed. it made me realize that there is not only a 'me' but also a 'we' that we all make part of, inevitably.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I think every author should be a reader, as you try to write the book you as a reader would love to read. At least, that's how I see it. I just finished Chris Kraus' I love Dick, Han Kangs The vegetarian and Emma Clines The Girls. And was recently also very impressed by Adam Johnson collection of stories and especially Hilary Mantels autobiography.

Continue reading Author Interview / Saskia de Coster

5 Jul 2016

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Book Review / The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


Published:     17th May 2016
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I liked about this book...  I really enjoyed this book.  I was still in a summery read type of mood and I have to be honest and say that the cover looked summery so I thought I would pick it up!  However, this story was far from summery but I did enjoy reading it.   What I loved the most about this book was the depth in the characters, especially Mallory and Rider.  You have two characters who have been through a lot in such a short space of time.  The depth in the friendship between Mallory and Rider was the main reason I kept reading.  Despite everything their friendship was never forgotten and in some cases it seemed like they picked right up where they left off when they met each other again at Mallory's new school. 

What I didn't like about this book... There was a lot going on in this book.  You have Mallory and her problems, Rider and his problems, the whole Mallory and Rider thing, the Rider's girlfriend before Mallory thing, Mallory and Rider's past, Mallory's best friend's problems etc etc.  You have a lot of story lines going on in such a short space of time.  I would say that the best friend story is something I would love to read more about, maybe the next book???   


Continue reading Book Review / The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

3 Jul 2016

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Book Review / We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

To avoid spoilers, as this is book 3 in a trilogy below is the description of book 1.  For a link to the Goodreads page for this book, please see below.

Belly measures her life in summers. 

Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. 

They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. 

But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


Published:     26th April 2011
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 3, Summer
Source:  Owned



REVIEW

Have you ever read a trilogy and wished that it had finished at book 2?  Unfortunately this was that book for me.  It's not that its a bad book, it was really good and really fun to read but it was that love triangle that I found drawn out and irritating.  Its more my personal preference than a reflection on the author I should add.  I have a love hate relationship with love triangles in stories.  In the right circumstance it could be really good but in this case you had Belly who was in love with one but in a relationship with the other.  To me that didn't make sense.  Why be in a relationship with someone if you are in love with someone else?  And, in that relationship if someone does something unforgivable do you take them back straight away, all forgiven?  I certainly wouldn't.  Needless to say, there were some decisions made in this book by certain characters that I definitely disagreed with!

But apart from that, this was a really fun read but I think when I re-read this trilogy again (which I definitely will do) I might skip this last book. 


 
Continue reading Book Review / We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han