31 Dec 2019

Reading Challenges 2019 and 2020



2019 Reading Challenge Goals

Goodreads 100 Book Challenge - Always a staple in my goals.  This year I am only limiting myself to 100 books, which I still think is quite a lot but we'll see how we go.  2019 is going to be the year of reading more complicated and in depth books along with series and stand alone novels that  have been on my shelf or on my wish list for a long time now.   OK, so I didn't quite get this done this year.  I got up 85, which I think is really good considering life has been busy and I haven't read as much as I have in the past.  To be honest, I don't really view this as a 'need to do' goal but just something to aim for.
 
Read Your Own Book Challenge - Always a goal of mine to make sure that I read from my own shelf and not review books or books that I have only just bought..   This was a goal that I have set for myself for a while now and I am so proud that I have stuck to it this year quite strictly having read quite a few backlist titles,which I am still continuing to do.  Yes, I have bought a few books that I have immediately read and yes I have received a few titles for review but I have not been accepting or requesting half as many as I used to (which I am truly grateful for). 
 
Big Book Challenge -  A true staple in my challenges that can often get forgotten.  I have had some fun with this challenge this year.  I read 37 big books this year which is the usual number I would naturally pick up but this time I decided to pick up one of my most challenging trilogy/series I have had on my shelf for ages and that is the Discovery of Witches (All Souls) Trilogy/Series by Deborah Harkness.  My full review is posted but just to say that it took me a very long time to read those books, which are over 600 pages long each. 

Read 2 Classics  - I always say that I will get around to those one at some point.  2019 is going to be the year.   I have only set this at 2 because there is 1 hefty book and 1 reasonable size novel that I want to get to this year.  Those are:


Nope, never got to either of these this year.  I have read the Phantom of the Opera before so this would have been a re-read but I still have these titles and I am still really keen to read them but maybe further in the future than right now.

Read at least 1 book from the Manbooker Winner List  -  For a long time now I have been wanting to try to read a book that has won the Manbooker Winner List.  I bought the book below a long time ago and it has been sitting on my shelf for ages.  2019 will be the year!!


I didn't get to this one either but I still have my copy and I am still really excited about the story and do plan to pick this up at some point. 

2020 Reading Challenge Goals

Goodreads 100 Book Challenge - Always a staple in my goals.  I always like to aim for 100 books but happy to get close and even happier if I get past that!  Who knows!  I  don't tend to be too strict on keeping this but use this really only use this as a motivation tool to keep me reading consistently
 
Read Your Own Book Challenge - This is a goal that i have brought in a lot more in 2019 and intend to bring in a lot more in 2020.  I have made my way through quite a lot of the books that I already own  and have not read yet and want to make it my aim to read as many as I can in 2020. 
 
Big Book Challenge -  Yet again, a true staple in my challenges that can often get forgotten but I have found that now even if I don't focus on this too much I do tend to pick up more than 20 books to complete this challenge this year.  My aim for this year is to do the same but to read at least 1 book that is over 800 pages long.  That is going to be a massive challenge for me as I do not do very good with concentrating on long novels but let's give it a go.  

John Grisham - I made a start last year to read all of John Grisham's novels - some I have already read and some I have not yet read.  So far, I think I have read about 10 of his novels, starting from the earliest publication date.  In 2020, I would love to be able to have read them all and start reading another author...











Continue reading Reading Challenges 2019 and 2020

26 Dec 2019

End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of 2019

I can't believe we have come to this time of year again where we are drawing to a close 2019 and lookin forward to a new year with new challenges and goals.   With that, I always like to highlight the books that I adored this year.  I have not included all the books here that I have marked 5 stars, not because they were not enjoyable reads but, for me, you have 5 star reads that are great and you move on and then you have 5 star reads that leave an impression on you that doesn't ever leave. These below are those.


This list is in no particular order.  I have thoroughly enjoyed and would recommed you check out each and every novel in this list :-)



Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE -  ACOTAR - Series Review



A stunning psychological thriller about loss, sisterhood, and the evil that men do, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie - who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother - suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE -  



I am deliberately not putting a description on this one as this is a series that is in the middle of the Shadowhunter world and I don't wait to include any spoilers in this post.

CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 



Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm with eight hundred lawyers. The money was good and getting better; a partnership was three years away. He was a rising star with no time to waste, no time to stop, no time to toss a few coins into the cups of panhandlers. No time for a conscience.

But a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold. Michael survived; his assailant did not. Who was this man? Michael did some digging, and learned that he was a mentally ill veteran who'd been in and out of shelters for many years. Then Michael dug a little deeper, and found a dirty secret, and the secret involved Drake & Sweeney.

The fast track derailed; the ladder collapsed. Michael bolted the firm and took a top-secret file with him. He landed in the streets, an advocate for the homeless, a street lawyer.

And a thief.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE



They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.

But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.

From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more.

But they found him.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE





In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…
Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.
 
Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.
Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE


For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE


When Catriona Drouot, a young music therapist, honours an opera diva's dying request to help her son, Umberto Monteverdi, recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. She had shared a night of passion with the once-celebrated composer ten years before, with unexpected consequences.

The extent of her challenge becomes apparent when she arrives at her client's estate on the glittering shores of Lake Como, Italy. Robbed of his sight by a nearfatal car accident, the man is arrogant, embittered and resistant to her every effort to help him. Still, Catriona sings a siren's call within him that he cannot ignore.

Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto's Palladian mansion, Catriona discovers that her attraction to the blind musician is as powerful as ever. How can she share what she has hidden from him for the past decade? Soon she realises that hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface. Dark forces haunt the sightless composer, threatening his life - for the second time.

Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices, and of a heroine determined to put things right at last


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE



After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE



Child experts will tell you that I'm way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?' Who is Bobby Seed? He's just your average sixteen-year-old - same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there's the Bobby Seed who's a world away from average. The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum's backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he's stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That's Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different ...

CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE


In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE




Lexie’s got the perfect life. And someone else wants it…

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.
But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE








Continue reading End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of 2019

15 Dec 2019

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Book Review/ Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon





While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

From the author of the acclaimed Promise Not to Tell comes a chilling and mesmerizing tale of shattered innocence, guilt, and ultimate redemption.








Published:     22nd April 2008
Publisher:  William Morrow
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

If it is possible to say for a mystery thriller style book but this was a fun read!  Being such a short book, it certainly does pack a punch and fits in quite a lot of twists and turns along the way.

There are two separate main time lines in this story - one is back in the past and the disappearance of Lizzie and one is the disappearance of a new girl.  Both had mention of a rabbit in some way - either they were in the woods with a rabbit or was taken by someone dressed as one.   This is one of those classic who done it and are they going to find the girl alive type stories but it is exactly what I wanted when I picked up this story and exactly what I got.

I was not surprised by much of the story, including the twists and turns, but the story of getting to the end was really fun and the writing was so easy to follow with the plot being fast paced, which is exactly what it should be.








Continue reading Book Review/ Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon

8 Dec 2019

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Trilogy Review / All Souls (Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness



Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestsellling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...


Published:     First published September 2011
Publisher:  Headline
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 3, All Souls Trilogy
Source:  Owned





MY REVIEW

This review is a long time coming, believe me!  It has taken me a very long time to read this book!  In between other books, I started A Discovery of Witches (book 1) back at the beginning of November and I have only just finished book 3!  To give context, it very rarely takes me this long to read a book!  Not that the reasons for it taking so long were all bad, but I have a few things to say!

What I loved about this trilogy...
There was so much depth to this world and to each of the characters in it.  Either good or bad, there wasn't a character that I disliked in this world.  My favourite would have to be Gallowglass, to be honest, and for reasons I can't give you because that would spoil the story but his humour and loyalty were two aspects that I really enjoyed reading.   I also found the idea of the plot very interesting, you have a historian who discovers a manuscript which could potentially be the most important item in their world.  You have a bit of romance along the way also together with the history of the world as well.  

What I didn't like about this trilogy...
This was one of those books that I could not read quick - which I found frustrating considering the story is one that I thought would be more fast paced. The story, to me, seemed to be too far drawn out.  It would have been much better if this was a duology with less description and more action - and less pages!  Each of these books were around 600 pages and the text wasn't large either.  This story had so much potential for me but a lot of my interest was lost with non-important things happening.

Honestly, I will not be picking up Time's Convert which I believe is a spin off of this series.  
   




Continue reading Trilogy Review / All Souls (Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness

10 Nov 2019

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The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia - the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day's journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby's cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.


Published:     31st July 2012
Publisher:  Scribner
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned




MY REVIEW


In complete contrast to what I have just read (The Night Circus) I thought it would pick up another novel that has been on my shelf for ages, since 2012 when it first came out.  I am going to be honest and say that this novel made me nervous to pick up.  Not only was it that most reviews I have read and seen about this book were very highly rated but the movie was too.   I think I had such high expectations for this novel that I did not think it would live up to that.  Well, it did and then some more.

This story centres around Tom and Isabel.  Tom is a lighthouse keeper and he and his wife live on this tiny island, all by themselves.  One day a boat washes up on shore which has a dead man and a baby who is still alive.  For their own personal reasons, they decide not to report this but to raise the baby as their own.  What follows is seeing the consequences of the choices that they make and how they deal with that.

This story blew me away.  The start of the novel you have the introduction to the world and the main characters together with issues that they have and are facing.  Honestly, the middle part of this book was a bit slow and I did struggle a little bit to concentrate but it soon picked up again after they have 'settled' into their new lives.

A tragic but beautiful story that really focuses on moral obligations and personal obligations. 








Continue reading The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

3 Nov 2019

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Book Review / The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.


Published:     13th September 2011
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned







MY REVIEW


Now this book really surprised me!  Not only has this been on my shelf since it came out back in 2011 but it has been a book that I have picked up time and time again ready to read but for one reason or another never got around to it.  Now was the time and I am so happy that I did decide to read this.  The writing was beautiful and the plot and characters were even more wonderful. 

We start off being introduced to this circus that just appears overnight.  You have two ageing characters who agree to a competition/duel between two individuals who do not know they are taking part or know who each other is.  There's a lot they have to figure out.   You also have some many wonderful characters that are not lost in the plot, they all stand out and are unforgettable.    Where the story can go one way it can also go in the complete opposite and it is up to the participants of the competition to decide which way they are going to go. 


I just could not put this down!  I loved every minute of it.  This was not one of those books that you can just pick up and devour in an afternoon.  It needs to be savoured and read slowly.  That way you can truly take in all the information, characters, descriptions and all that good stuff that this book has to offer. 




Continue reading Book Review / The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

27 Oct 2019

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Book Review / Happy by Fearne Cotton


"This book is a way to release what's going on inside your head and to keep heading towards the good stuff. The simple stuff. The stuff that's going to really hit up that happiness on a deep and nourishing level. Whether you dip into these pages every now and then when you feel you need it, or use it daily as a positive exercise, I hope it brings you much relief, joy and calm. Amen to the pen." - Fearne Cotton

 
For many of us, life can feel like it's moving too fast with pressure bearing down on us from all sides - whether that's from school or work, family or social media. As a result, we find ourselves frazzled, lost and - too often - feeling blue.

It's a subject close to Fearne's heart. Drawing on her own experiences and including expert advice, HAPPY offers practical ways of finding joy each and every day. Happiness isn't a mountain to climb, it's just one foot in front of the other on the path of life, and here you'll find little steps that will help make the differences that count. With workbook elements to help you start and end the day well; get in touch with your creative side; and find peace through written exercises, simple practical ideas and visualisations, these are daily tricks and reminders to help you unlock that inner happiness.



Published:     9th February 2017
Publisher:  Orion Spring
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned




MY REVIEW

This was just what I needed to read at this time.  With a very busy life and work life, I do find it hard sometimes to keep up with everything and even keep up with myself.   This book made me stop and think about what I was doing and discover that something had to change.  

Fearne talks about her personal experieneces in this book together with talking to other friends about their experiences also.   There are a lot of topics that Fearne talks about in this book but, for me, the biggest aspect that I took out of this was not to hurry through life.  Take one step at a time and be picky about what you choose to do.  You can't do everything. 

Very inspirational reading and has definately made me stop and think. 

Continue reading Book Review / Happy by Fearne Cotton

21 Oct 2019

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Book Review / Mrs Hinch's Hinch Yourself Happy

Transform your home -- and your life -- with cleaning, tidying, and decluttering tips from British housekeeping sensation Mrs. Hinch.

Cleaning (aka "hinching") doesn't have to be a dreaded chore -- not when Mrs Hinch is here to show you her sparkly ways!
Often called the "British Marie Kondo," Mrs. Hinch is a domestic guru who has taken the world by storm with her infectiously addictive charm, clever tidying tips, and passionate belief in the healing power of cleaning. In Hinch Yourself Happy, she makes cleaning glamorous and fun, and explains how it's a brilliant way to taper anxiety and manage your mental health.
Inside you'll find out: How cleaning can soothe anxiety and stress Mrs Hinch's must-have cleaning supplies Step-by-step guides to hinching your home And so much more! With the help of her favorite tools and products -- including Dave the Duster and Shannon the Shark (her trusty vacuum cleaner) -- Mrs Hinch will show you how to truly make your house a home. Whether you're a daily scrubber or simply looking for a monthly household makeover, Hinch Yourself Happy will help you create a cleaner house and a calmer you.
If you want your kitchen to sparkle like Meghan Markle, then this is the book for you!



Published:     4th April 2019
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

For someone like me who likes to be super organised and super clean (but not always managing it in our busy daily lives) this was such fun to read and motivational.  I,of course, follow Mrs Hinch on Instagram and always find her posts and stories motivational, especially on long days when all I want to do is sit on the sofa and watch TV.  Not only does she give me that pick me up to get myself off that sofa and sorting out my home but she also comes up with great tips and tricks that I had not heard of before and would actually save me time cleaning!

This book is, basically, that in word format.  It gives helpful tips and tricks combined with a bit of backstory and really helpful activities and lists that keep you going and keep your home clean!

This book is perfect for everyone - from those starting out in their first home and are not sure where to start (there are great lists in here of the basics you should keep in your cleaning cupboard) to those who have been at the cleaning your home game for so long they are in a routine that could use some shaking up.







Continue reading Book Review / Mrs Hinch's Hinch Yourself Happy

19 Oct 2019

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Book Review / Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?





Published:     10th September 2013
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned





MY REVIEW


Now this was a book that I could not put down!  I have had this book since it came out back in 2013 and was in my 'to be read at some point' pile.  With historical novels, I really do have to be in the right mood and frame of mind to pick them up otherwise I just struggle to read them.  I am so glad that I had finally picked this one up!  I read this in one day and just could not go to bed until I had finished the last page.

We follow Agnes who is a convicted murderer of two men, by burning.  She is due to be executed but needs to be housed before then.  As is the custom back in that day in Iceland, she is placed with the family of an officer of the village.  The family are not happy at first but over time discover there is more to Agnes and her story than meets the eye.

There's a great combination of murder mystery and history here that just kept me turning the pages.  Yes, there is a lot of description and parts where I have to be honest and say that I was getting a little bit bored but that didn't last for long and we learnt something new.    This story was beautifully written and stayed with me long after I had finished reading.






Continue reading Book Review / Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

15 Oct 2019

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Book Review / The Search by Nora Roberts

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life: a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescue. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare.

Several years ago, she was the only survivor of a serial killer — a madman who stalked and abducted young women, strangled them, and left them buried with a red scarf on their bodies. As authorities were closing in on the Red Scarf Killer, he shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona has found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. Yet all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and intensely private artist, known for creating exquisite furniture. Simon never wanted a puppy, and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to the laws of attraction.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws and as Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands.


Published:     1st May 2011
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


MY REVIEW

Maybe I should not have read another Nora Roberts after just finished one of her novels that I enjoyed or maybe it is just this story that just didn't work for me.   This book was both good and not so good for me but not in any interesting way.

I enjoyed following Fiona as she takes part in the Canine Search and Rescue and when she meets Simon, where a little romance gets thrown into the mix but, honestly speaking, I just got bored.  This book is over 500 pages long and, in my opinion, you don't have enough action happening in it to keep the pace going for the thriller is meant to be.   If this book had been 300 to 400 pages long, it would have made for an excellent read with lots happening but the fact that this story is so spaced out it just left me bored and wanting more.

Also being honest, I didn't finish this story.  I knew where the story was going and wasn't too bothered about following it through.  I had reached just over 400 pages at that point and just didn't see the point in carrying on.  I was bored and, as with most of the Nora Roberts books that I have read so far, the story would play out with no surprise and finish as expected, I assume.

Not one of my favourites but I am certainly going to be picking up more novels by Nora Roberts, but might give it a break for a bit before I do. 






Continue reading Book Review / The Search by Nora Roberts

13 Oct 2019

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Book Review / The Witness by Nora Roberts

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.


Published:     17th April 2012
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

There's always something I love about reading a Nora Roberts book and that is you know what you are getting.  You are either getting a romance or a mystery thriller and that depends, for me, on what the front cover looks like!  You have a happy bright cover and you are more than likely to have a love story.  You have a darker cover with a scene of mystery and you know what you are going to get there...  mystery!

In this story, we follow Elizabeth who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Elizabeth's life has been very much controlled by a mother who has already decided what her daughter is going to do and be for the rest of her life and there's no deviation from that.  Now, Elizabeth's mother is going away for a few days and is trusting Elizbeth to do as she is told.  Unfortunately for her mother, Elizabeth is fed up of being controlled and wants to take a different direction in her life so along with her friend she gets dressed up and goes out to party.  It is just unfortunate that she ends up being witness to murder and has to run and go into hiding.  You can guess what happens after that.

There was no surprises for me in this book.  Everything played out exactly how I expected it to but that is exactly what I want and what I expect when I pick up a Nora Roberts, based on my past experience of her novels, so I enjoyed this story very much.  For me, it was the characters that made the story from Elizabeth at the beginning right through to Abigail and who helps her along the way. 







Continue reading Book Review / The Witness by Nora Roberts

12 Oct 2019

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Book Review / The Coldest Girl of Coldtown by Holly Black


Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.




Published:     3rd September 2013
Publisher:  Little Brown
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

Now, I am going to start by saying that this review has been long in the making.  I first picked up this book when it first came out in 2013 and, honestly speaking, could not get into it.  A couple of years after that I decided to pick it up again because the plot intrigued me, so I decided to try the audio book  On that occasion, I got to about one third of the way through and was bored by the story so I put it down.

Cut to today and I decided to give it one last shot, mainly for the reason that I really wanted to read more of Holly Black books - such as The Cruel Price etc - but never one for admitting defeat with books I wanted to give this book another go.  I decided to try again with the audio book.  This time I got to well over half way in the book and, unfortunately, the same thing happened.  I, honestly speaking, was bored by the story.  I had followed Tana from waking up in the party and taking the road trip to Coldtown and watching her as she gets used to where she is but I just could not invest myself in the story or the characters.

I would love to say that I might give this another go but three times enough for me.  I am just going to put this on the pile of I've given this a good go but its not for me. 

Continue reading Book Review / The Coldest Girl of Coldtown by Holly Black

6 Oct 2019

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Book Review / First Sight by Danielle Steel

Paris, L.A., and the world of ready to wear fashion provide rich backdrops for Danielle Steel’s deeply involving story of a gifted designer whose talent and drive have brought her everything—except the ability to erase her past and trust relationships.

FIRST SIGHT
 
New York. London. Milan. Paris. Fashion Week in all four cities. A month of endless interviews, parties, and unflagging work and attention to detail at the semiannual ready to wear fashion shows—the famous prêt-à-porter. At the center of the storm and avalanche of work is American Timmie O’Neill, whose renowned line, Timmie O, is the embodiment of casual chic, in fashion and for the home. She has created a business that inspires, fills, and consumes her life.

With an unerring instinct for what the next trend will be, an innate genius for business, tireless labor, and sheer fearlessness, starting from nothing, over two decades Timmie has built an international empire that has brought her enormous satisfaction and success. In a world where humility and compassion are all too rare, her humor, kindness, integrity, and creativity are inspirational. Yet as blessed as she feels by her success, Timmie harbors the private wounds of a devastating childhood and past tragedy. She is too smart, too experienced, and too hurt to want much in her personal life beyond a succession of convenient, very limited relationships. Always willing to take risks in business, she never risks her heart.

But despite her well-ordered and highly controlled world, it turns out that Timmie O’Neill is not immune to magic when it strikes. And it strikes in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, when an intriguing Frenchman comes into her life when she gets sick. At first, Timmie and Jean-Charles Vernier are only patient and physician. They become confidants and friends, corresponding at a safe distance between Paris and Los Angeles once she goes home. There is every reason why they must remain apart. But neither can deny their growing friendship and the electricity that sparks whenever they meet.
 
First Sight is as complex and compelling as modern life itself. Careers, families, histories, losses, duty, obligation, and fear of losing control and getting hurt. It is a tale of daring to take risks, and losing control just enough to have a life, when the opportunity presents itself. When two very different worlds and strong-willed people collide, everything changes in an instant, as they confront the age-old question of whether to lay oneself bare and risk intimacy—or not. Are they brave enough to face what comes next? And will they do it together or apart?


Published:     16th July 2013
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Bought



MY REVIEW

I am so glad that I decided to re-discover Danielle Steel.  Her books are so perfect for those days when you are looking for a non-complicated fun read with a twist of romance dropped in.   When you have had one of those long days that you wish to forget and all you want to do is have a long hot bath and settle with a book that is not going to test the brain too much, you must pick up a Danielle Steel.  Its not a perfect novel but I just let myself just get wound up in the emotion of the story and I loved the ride. 

In this book we follow Timmie, who is a very successful woman in the fashion industry.  I would guess that she is the equivalent of the person at the head of Vogue.  This book follows her as she deals with her day to day work struggles but also her day to day struggles in her personal life through past relationships, issues that she has had to deal with in the past to meeting new people and trying to fit that into her life.

Yes, there is a lot of this story that I felt was over the top and not presented in a realistic fashion but, to be honest, I let that slide and went along with the emotion of the story and that won this over for me.   Definitely worth picking up if that's what you like in a story. 









Continue reading Book Review / First Sight by Danielle Steel

2 Oct 2019

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Book Review / The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Claire

From #1 New York Times bestseller Cassandra Clare and award-winner Wesley Chu comes the first book in a new series that follows High Warlock Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they tour the world after the Mortal War. The Red Scrolls of Magic is a Shadowhunters novel.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping


Published:     9th April 2019
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 1, The Eldest Curses
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

This book was so much fun!  I was so excited to get back into the Shadowhunter world, especially when we are following two of my favourite characters - Magnus and Alec.   The Shadowhunters world and many series that have been written in it have been a firm favourite of mine for many years now and an instant pick up every time a new book comes out.  I was waiting to read this one until I had finished all the novellas in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market book, not wanting to either be spoiled by the story or missing anything about the world that is being told to me in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market book that I might pick up in this one.   For me, every book and novella in this series is a must read to fully understand the world and the characters in it.

Of course, I adore Magnus and Alec and it was wonderful to follow them and see more of how their relationship was going.  We also see the start of a new mystery/problem to solve and that is the cult called the Crimson Hand and the existence of the Red Scrolls of Magic. Of course, I won't spoil any of the story for you but it is a plot that I am very intrigued to find out how this is going to play out in this series.  I have a feeling that there are going to be a few revelations and secrets being let out of the bag along the way, I can't wait!

A must read for all those who love and follow the novels in the Shadowhunter world.  If you are new to this world and are new to Cassandra Clare you can, of course, pick up this novel if you want to but you will get so much more out of the story if you follow the authors recommended reading time line here - Cassandra Claire Author Website - Exploring the Shadowhunter Chronicles.



Continue reading Book Review / The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Claire

29 Sep 2019

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Book Review / The Lost World and Forever Fallen by Cassandra Claire (Ghosts of the Shadow Market)



THE LOST WORLD
While at the Scholomance, Ty and Livvy test the limits of Livvy's ghostly powers, while Jem and Tessa prepare for the birth of their child.


FOREVER FALLEN
The Jace Herondale who crossed into our world from Thule is torn between his feeling of responsibility to Ash, who is ever-increasing in power, and his desire to take back the life he lost from the Jace of our world, by force if necessary. Meanwhile, in the peaceful countryside of England, Kit Herondale struggles to adjust to a new life and a new family, and to forget Ty.


Published:     4th June 2019
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 9 and 10, Ghosts of the Shadow Market
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

As I am sure I have mentioned before, I am not the type of reader who would pick up the 'mini side stories' that come with series.  I usually tend to only pick up those books that are the main ones in the series.  Most of the time, I find that the 'side stories' don't really add that much to a story but the mini stories that go alongside Cassandra Clare's series need to be read.  They just add so much more to the depth of the characters and just adds more and more to the overall world that she writes in.

In The Lost World, we follow Ty and Livvy as they figure out what they can do with Livvy's new found powers, testing distance etc.  We also follow Jem and Tessa (which I have to confess are two of my most favourite characters in the Shadow Hunter world).

In Forever Fallen, this is more about Jace (or a version of) as well as Kit seeing him settle in to his new life and trying to forget friends he left  behind.

If you are not normally one for picking up novellas that go alongside the main stories, I would definately urge you to go back and pick up the ones in the Cassandra Clare world.  There is so much more that you can learn about the characters and the world from those stories, which may be small things that mean you understand more why a character makes a certain decision or it may be larger issues that mix in with the main novels.  Definately worth picking up. 






Continue reading Book Review / The Lost World and Forever Fallen by Cassandra Claire (Ghosts of the Shadow Market)

19 Sep 2019

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Book Review / Revival by Stephen King

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.



Published:     11th November 2014
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source: Owned

MY REVIEW

I have not read a great deal of novels written by Stephen King, which is something I am working on correcting but its going to be a challenge considering how many books he has written!  With what I have read so far, I was expecting a massive horror book with twists and turns along the way.  Boy was I wrong about that assumption in this book!  Yes, it does have elements of horror but the main focus of the story is the character Charles Jacobs and what he can do bonded together with his friendship with Jamie Morton.

We follow Charles and Jamie from when they first meet, when Charles comes in as thew new minister and Jamie is a kid of a family that always attends, to many many years later when Jamie catches up with Charles.   This story centres on the choices that each of these characters makes and the consequences they face for those choices.

For me, the best part of this story was the character development of both Charles and Jamie.  From their apparent innocence at the start of the story, through various 'traumas' that happen to them along the way and right to where they end up at the end of the novel.

I was on the edge of my seat reading this novel, not wanting to put it down.  In fact, I really didn't put it down that much having read it in two sittings over the space of one weekend!  If you are new to Stephen King's writing, this novel would be a great place to start. 




Continue reading Book Review / Revival by Stephen King