Friday, 27 November 2015

An East End Christmas by Elizabeth Waite

An East End ChristmasAn East End Christmas by Elizabeth Waite
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

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?

This book was unsolicited and not a book that I knew I would enjoy reading so I passed to it my mum who loves historical fiction.

Disappointed is how I felt after reading this novel. I enjoy novels of all genres so was not put off by the historical element attached to this one, however it just didn't live up to expectations. It felt as if the author was writing a synopsis of a book, almost like diary entries and the characters were flat and empty.

The story hinges around WWII and in particular Carla the main East End character. I come from London a Cockney myself and I was therefore intrigued to read this novel, hoping and expecting to feel the warmth and humour that East Enders showed during the war years - I didn't get that feeling.

The story basically is that Carla finds work in a factory not far from where she lives and when they relocate to Southampton she along with other workers are offered the opportunity of moving with the factory which means she has to relocate her home and leave her family. She basically grows up during this period, meets and falls in love with a fellow worker, has some mishaps along the way (won't put any spoilers in although really there are few) and eventually makes good in Southampton. War breaks out and we get some descriptive passages about lack of food and rationing, bombing in London but not much else. The characters were so skimpy that I really didn't have much reason to care what happened to them during the Blitz. The story was like a snapshot in a historical overview of the East End - she missed a great opportunity to showcase the warmth and humour of the people through this traumatic period in time.

As I said, I didn't connect emotionally with Carla, I felt she had no real substance or depth and I couldn't really warm to her. None of the characters really stood out for me, grand dad was looking promising but the writer kills him off too quickly before he has made enough of an impression.

The story was very predictable with no unexpected twists and nothing to set it apart from numerous other novels of this genre - a passable love story. Everything appeared to be rushed we wizz from 1943 to surrender in 1945 of the Germans with no mention of what Carla and her friends are up to. When one co worker Paul Townsend goes missing from work we don't know how long he's been missing for 'quite a while' according to the writer. It seems silly that someone seemingly so important to Carla could be gone without her asking questions before she does!

As I say, predictable, disappointing, just not fleshed out enough in my opinion to be memorable. I found it difficult to keep going with this one to the end - it was just too boring for me and therefore I can only give this 1 star.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

I Heart Creative Colouring by Various

I Heart Creative ColouringI Heart Creative Colouring by Various
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I Heart Creative Colouring is a brand new addition to the pretty pocket colouring series. Bursting with beautiful pattern, detailed designs, amazing animals and much more, this book makes the perfect gift for colouring enthusiasts. With a lovely silver foil cover and a perfectly portable size for on-the-go colouring, everyone will enjoy colouring in I Heart Creative Colouring.

When I was offered the chance to review this colouring book I jumped at the chance. At the moment there are so many colouring books out there that you don't actually know which one to go for or what makes one better than another.

This colouring book is very small, it is square and a bit smaller than A5 size. This makes it perfect to slide in a handbag and keep while you are on the go. It also is very thick with what seems like good quality paper in. I have only used colouring pencils on the pages so I cannot comment on whether pens go through, but the effect you can get with blending pencils are brilliant. One of the reasons I decided to use pencils as well as blending them is the fact that the illustrations are on both sides of the paper and if pens do bleed through then will spoil the other design.

This was my first colouring book from Buster colouring books and I would certainly buy others, the illustrations are wonderful and it is so handy in it's size. This is a colouring book that will keep you entertained for hours. If you are looking for an introduction into adult colouring books this is one I would recommend, there is just the right amount of detail in pages to keep you entertained but not so much it freaks you out!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 23 November 2015

West End Girls by Jenny Colgan

West End GirlsWest End Girls by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The streets of London are paved with gold ... allegedly.

They may be twin sisters, but Lizzie and Penny Berry are complete opposites - Penny is blonde, thin and outrageous; Lizzie quiet, thoughtful and definitely not thin. The one trait they do share is a desire to DO something with their lives, and as far as they are concerned, the place to get noticed is London.

Out of the blue they discover they have a grandmother living in Chelsea - and when she has to go into hospital, they find themselves flat-sitting on the King's Road. But, as they discover, it's not as easy to become It Girls as they'd imagined, and west end boys aren't at all like Hugh Grant ...

I was looking for an audio book to keep me entertained on the way to work in the mornings and evenings. This I thought was perfect as full running time is around 3 hours. I thought that this would last me about a week, which it did.

Morwenna Banks, the narrator really brings the story to life, she gets into character very well and managed to keep think up throughout the novel.

Penny and Lizzie are twins and have lived in a council house for most of their lives. Suddenly their luck changes and they move to a large flat in Chelsea, which belongs to their grandmother. They have not seen her for years and she now lives in an old peoples home.

Although Penny and Lizzie are twins, they are very different. Lizzie is happy to have the quieter life, getting a job in a sandwich shop and working for George. From the moment I met George I knew he was going to be a great character and I loved reading about his and Lizzie's story.

Penny in contrast seems loud, pretends to be someone she's not and is always wanting to party. Penny soon finds out living in Chelsea and trying to be famous is not all that it is cracked up to be.

I did enjoy listening to this book, however it was not very taxing. I could and did guess the ending but this didn't bother me as I was only looking to be entertained. As others have said, this is not the best Colgan book and her latest ones are certainly much better. However if you are looking for light relief then this is for you. Just don't expect to get a deep and meaningful story line as you won't.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Love You Better by Natalie Martin

Love You BetterLove You Better by Natalie Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a soul-destroying breakup with her ex, Smith, Effie Abbott has met the man of her dreams. She’s had the whirlwind romance and the fairy-tale wedding to the charming and suave Oliver Barton-Cole, and life seems firmly back on track.

Things were never simple between Smith and Effie, so when he forces his way back into her life, Effie knows he’s a complication she doesn’t want or need. After all, she has Oliver, a man who loves her better than Smith ever did.

But when cracks in her marriage begin to emerge and Oliver shows flashes of a darker side, Effie has to question just how well she really knows her husband, and whether Smith is back to derail her seemingly perfect marriage or save her from it.

After recently breaking up from a relationship with Smith, Effie Abbot meets the man of her dreams, he's everything Smith isn't and after a whirlwind romance she walks down the aisle a month later to marry Oliver Barton-Cole a successful and wealthy barrister.

It's not too long into her married life that the cracks begin to show and Effie starts to realise Oliver may not be as perfect as she first thought. To complicate matters Smith has turned up again in her life and she's not entirely sure how she feels about him.

As life with Oliver and his mood swings and temper intensify so does Effie's feelings for Smith and when she becomes a victim of domestic abuse things start to spiral out of control.

It was enjoyable in parts but glaringly predictable right from the outset really so there were no real surprises and I felt it could have been shorter. Nothing really to set this apart from other chick-lit/domestic abuse novels and not really memorable enough once read to warrant more than 3 stars - sorry it didn't do it for me.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Gilded Life Of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

The Gilded Life Of Matilda DuplaineThe Gilded Life Of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Family secrets. Forbidden love. And the true price of wealth.

Thomas is a small-town boy and when Lily invites him to a dinner party, he gains access to the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. As he enters a world of private jets and sprawling mansions, his life and career take off beyond his wildest dreams.

Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.

Beautiful and mysterious, Matilda has spent her entire life within the walls of her powerful father’s Bel-Air estate and Thomas is immediately entranced by her. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon threatens to destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them.

I enjoyed this book more than I first thought I would. Initially it was a bit difficult to get into but once it got going it was an easy read. Although set in the modern day it had all the feel of the glitzy romantic Hollywood era. I loved the main character Thomas Cleary who goes to LA to restart his flagging career as a reporter on the New York Times. He is sent on a story to get some quotes and information for an obituary of famous film producer and meets his daughter Lily who owns an antiques shop. Lily immediately seems to connect with Thomas and she takes him under her wing. Through Lily Thomas experiences the wonderful world of Hollywood and meets some of it's legends when she invites him to a dinner to interview some of her fathers' friends. Being invited into this 'inner circle' of legends he is closer than any other reporter has been able to get and his career starts to take off.

Lily invites him to other social gatherings and he is invited to a special party one evening that he never manages to get to. He goes to the address he believes the party is being held in the Bel-Air home of David Duplaine a famous producer and meets Matilda his 19 year old daughter who he instantly falls in love with. Matilda he learns is very different to other girls and he discovers that she has never left the Bel-Air estate. They meet often in secret always at the estate but the inevitable happens and when David Duplaine discovers the meetings Thomas is banned from the estate and told never to return. In desperation Thomas persuades Matilda to run away with him and after confessing everything to Lily she helps them to go to Hawaii for a month in a house that her father owned.

Matilda is like a child experiencing everything for the first time, initially she clings to Thomas who has freed her from captivity but then she begins to want to fly the nest and does not want or need Thomas anymore. He has almost taken on the role of a parent to her child and like a child she needs to grow and experience things for herself. Thomas is hurt that she does not want to include him in her new friendships and while he spends a lot of his time alone in Lilys' fathers house he starts to piece together who Matilda is and eventually he discovers why she has been hidden away. He writes it all down, mainly to help him with the puzzle never intending to publish or tell anyone what he has found out. When they return to LA they are not the same people they were when they left a month before and their love affair has burnt out.

It is a lovely written book, very nice to have it narrated from the mans' perspective. It has all the nostalgic glamour of the Hollywood movie stars, the intrigue and pace of a good mystery and good descriptive passages that help transport you from the shores of Hawaii to the affluence of Bel-Air. I loved Lily and couldn't help but feel that she manipulated Thomas with the intention of freeing Matilda from her 'prison'because in many ways she had spent her life in a 'prison' herself and she didn't want Matilda to have suffered as she had.

It didn't have the 'happy ever after' ending that one might expect it to have had but it didn't disappoint either - I would give this a well deserved 4 stars for an enjoyable debut novel.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper - Debbie Johnson Giveaway

Today I have been lucky enough to be able to host a giveaway for a chance to win one of 3 copies of Debbie Johnson's novel - Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper. This is perfect for this time of year, so what are you waiting for? Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.

The next FABULOUS book from Debbie Johnson, author of best-selling Christmas number one, ‘Cold Feet at Christmas’

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it. But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner. Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper…?

Debbie Johnson lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime - which is as confusing as it sounds! Her first humorous contemporary romance, Cold Feet At Christmas, a seasonal tale of snow-bound fun, was released by HarperImpulse last year, and became an Amazon top ten best-seller. You can also find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books. Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK. Debbie blogs at She lives with her family in Merseyside and is available to write features.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Weekly Wrap Up 15.11.15

It has been quite quiet this week. I haven't had any book post and I haven't been able to read that much as I have had 2 parents evenings that have left me really tired.

Books I have read this week:

You can find all the reviews for the books I have read coming up in the next couple of weeks so look out for that. 

I would love to know what you have been reading this week so please let me know in the comments below.