Wednesday, 7 December 2016

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life#BabyLove: My Toddler Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A curious toddler loves to play…especially with his mommy's smartphone!

When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment. Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.

Her simple reminder: Put down our phones

This is the first book in the #babylove series I have read and I must say it did get me thinking. This is a cute little picture book that comes with a message for both adults and children. Mommy seems obsessed with her mobile phone and only views her child through the screen by taking pictures of him and videoing the things he does. Until one moment mommy has left her phone on the side, in reach of the toddler. After watching mommy take pictures, he wants to too, so goes around taking selfies and pictures of the dog. After becoming a little spooked as mommy is on her way back he runs and drops the phone.

This is a story about the impact technology can potentially have on a family and perhaps the 'need' people feel to capture every second with a toddler as they are continuously changing. It is not until towards the end of the book that mommy perhaps realises the most important thing is actually spending time with child and not viewing him from behind a screen. The child also learns not to touch things that are not his.

Overall this is a nice little picture book that carries a few morals for all audiences. After reading this, I would be interested in reading others from this series.

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

Monday, 5 December 2016

Be My Baby by A.L. Michael blog tour with guest post


Two’s company…

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three’s a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

Guest Post: 

What I’ve learnt from writing the House on Camden Square Series.

As Be My Baby is released into the world, it’s time to take a breather. At least, that’s what I thought. This is my eighth book in four years. There have been deadlines, stresses, excitement and a few too many celebratory bottles of prosecco.

But the more you write, the most you learn. And here is what I’ve learnt from writing this series:

* Try something new.
I never thought I’d write a series. I don’t often read series, and I didn’t think I’d have the patience or attention to detail to write something that had crossing over perspectives or storylines or histories. But I loved it.

* Know your process. I panicked after I finished this book. I thought I’d never have a good idea again, never come up with anything. I was blank. And so I got on with reading, and breathing and living life. One day...I had an idea. A couple of weeks later, I wrote a few sentences. A week after that, I wrote two thousand words of something new I was passionate about.

* Be proud of your achievements.
Sometimes you write something you’d love to read, something that makes you happy. Maybe it says something important to the world, or maybe it makes you snort attractively whilst you’re laughing. Whatever you do, be proud of it.

* Don’t sweat the bad reviews. Not everyone likes everything. We’ve all had something that’s not for us. Doesn’t make it bad, doesn’t mean it’s personal. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay.

* Accept that you’re a liar. I’m a liar. And a thief. There are bits in my books that I haven’t even realised I’ve taken until someone mentions an anecdote they overheard, or uses a funny phrase in the office. Writers are magpies, always looking for the shiny words and sparkly ideas. And that’s okay, as long as you make it your own.

- Know when to say goodbye. Some characters have stories that could go on forever. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s not. I feel like I could write the girls on Camden Square for years, watching the girls go about their lives and creating big dreams. And on the other hand, it’s time for new stories.


Goodreads , Amazon

About A.L. Michael

A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays. She's a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she'll settle for lying on the page.





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Friday, 2 December 2016

The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

The Ice Beneath HerThe Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon's marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma's world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

The author chose to narrate this in the first person for each of the three narrators which I must admit was initially confusing but once the characters were established I didn't find the need to keep checking the chapter narrator as I did at the beginning. Watching the case unfold from these narrators perspective did enhance the authors control over what we learn and the pace we learnt it which kept the suspense going.

The story is set in Stockholm narrated by Detective Inspector Peter Lindgren, a woman called Hanne a police consultant who has the early stages of Alzheimer's, and a girl who works in Jesper Orre's store called Emma Bohman.

It starts with a great opening hook - a woman is found murdered having been beheaded in the apartment of a well known CEO (Jesper Orre) of a clothing company Clothes & More. When Detective Inspector Lindgren is called to the house to investigate Jesper Orre is missing and the identity of the beheaded woman in his home is not known. Remembering a similar unsolved murder case he investigated some 10 years previously he decides to call Hanne who worked on the case with him. We learn that Peter Lindgren was also romantically involved with Hanne which adds to the tension of the case.

It was a good paced piece of writing and interesting to have this in three different narrations through the book. I did guess the outcome but only 3/4 of the way through the book which was fairly good going as I normally guess the 'who dunnit' well before then so for this reason it gets a well deserved 4 stars from me. It's well worth a read, good holiday reading material but equally good for a cold winters' evening by the fire. Would definitely read more from this author.

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

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel (Star Wars)Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

Catalyst is a brilliantly universe-expanding story and an excellent addition to Star Wars canon. The book is set during Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith but focuses a new group of characters who view the war from a different perspective. The story centres on Galen and Lyra Erso and their infant daughter, Jyn as they travel across the Galaxy engaging in scientific research, hoping to find a way of providing free, renewable energy to the poorest Planets in the Galaxy. The second storyline is that of Orson Krennic, who is a young, ambitious officer within the Republic who wishes to further his career by exploiting his long-time friendship with Galen Erso.

The novel spans a period of roughly five years during which the Republic transitions in to the Empire. The detail given and the new information provided in regards to the formation of the Empire is pleasing to those of us who felt it was rushed in the films. The main story focuses on the creation of the Death Star and how the Empire manages to conceal it from so many people whilst deceiving others into designing and building it for them. The rich text introduces us to many new worlds and species, whilst also touching base with recognisable characters such as Tarkin and to a lesser extent Saw Gerrera.

Catalyst is the perfect companion piece to the up-coming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film. It introduces us to several characters that will feature in the film and also provides them with a back story. Although I found the first twenty or so pages hard to get into, mainly due to a lot of technical jargon, the story quickly picks up and concludes with a thrilling cat and mouse chase through the streets of Coruscant between the main characters. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending as, even though I was convinced I knew how it would end, I was wrong. It answered many questions that the promotional material for Rogue One raised and yet has made me ask many more questions that I need answering.

James Luceno has done his job very well, a very good novel in its own right, but now I cannot wait for Rogue One to hit cinemas so I can finish this story.

4.5 out of 5

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

Monday, 28 November 2016

Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Tony and SusanTony and Susan by Austin Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The novel that inspired the 2016 major motion picture Nocturnal Animals, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams, is a dazzling, eerie, riveting thriller of fear and regret, blood and revenge.

Many years after their divorce, Susan Morrow receives a strange gift from her ex-husband. A manuscript that tells the story of a terrible crime: an ambush on the highway, a secluded cabin in the woods; a thrilling chiller of death and corruption. How could such a harrowing story be told by the man she once loved? And why, after so long, has he sent her such a disturbing and personal message...?

This is a story within a story; after 15/20 years of no contact with her ex-husband out of the blue Susan receives a copy of his manuscript asking her to read and review it as she was always her ex-husbands best critic. She reads this over a 3 day period while her husband Arnold a doctor is away at a conference. As the story unfolds Susan becomes fascinated by the drama and this is interspersed with her reactions and flashbacks of her life with her ex-husband Edward and comparisons of her present marriage to Arnold.

Edward comes across as a weak and selfish man, he expected his wife to work while he 'found himself' as a writer but we get the impression that he doesn't have much talent and that Susan becomes bored with his self obsessed vanity as a writer while she has to work to keep their heads above water. While he was busy feeding his fantasy of being a great author she was lonely and took solace in the arms of a neighbour who's own marriage was falling apart due to his wife's illness. When she confesses to Edward he seems devoid of all emotion and they eventually divorce and go their separate ways.

Marrying Arnold seems to me something that Susan just did and as the novel progresses we find her questioning just why she did marry him. It seems that Arnold has been having an affair for some time and though she knows about it she appears to accept it. She seems distressed that after all this time Edward has got in touch and wonders why he sent her the manuscript especially since he said something is missing but he's sure she will know what.

Tony (in Edwards' novel) is an academic who cannot or will not come to terms with the death of his wife and daughter and his cowardice on the night of the incident when he was unable to fight for them both. It seems that Edward is telling Susan that he could not or would not fight for her until it was too late. For her part, Susan is beginning to wonder why she chose cheating Arnold and questioning whether she should have stayed with the weak and unemotional Edward.

The novel within a novel moves along at a fairly good pace in the beginning but then looses impetus and for me held few surprises and had a weak ending. The story of Susan, Edward, Arnold triangle though interesting didn't really go anywhere, the ending was a damp squib and I felt that I had invested time to read it and felt a bit cheated when there was no satisfactory conclusion in either 'story'.

The characters were a bit flat, of course we don't get to 'know' the wife and daughter as they are killed off early and I didn't warm to weak Tony, arrogant Arnold or really with indecisive Susan so the only thing really keeping me going was a curiosity as to whether the murderers were caught and what happened to them but again this was really not very satisfactory. It was also a little dated, this was first published in 1993 when mobile phones and such technology was not around and this really does show in modern day readers expectations, I found myself thinking 'why doesn't he just call the police on his mobile'.

It was different and to a point interesting but for me it lacked a killer punch and it was not really the thriller genre it was billed as. It's soon to be made into a motion picture and perhaps it will translate better as a movie, as a novel it just seems to be lacking and I can only give this a 3 star rating. The characters were so hollow that I really didn't care towards the end.

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

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart

Fly on the WallFly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At the Manhattan School of Art and Music, where everyone is unique, Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. It doesn't help that she's known as the shy girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of her favourite superhero, just so she won't have to talk to anyone.

It's no surprise that Gretchen isn't exactly successful in the boy department. Her ex-boyfriend is a cold-fish-sometimes-flirty ex who she can't stop bumping into. Plus, she has a massive crush on a boy named, Titus but is too scared to make the first move. One minute he seems like a sensitive guy, the next, he's a completely different person when he's with his friends. She can't seem to figure boys out!

Gretchen has one wish: to be a fly on the wall in the boy's locker room. What are boys really like? What do they talk about?

This is the story of how one girl's wish came true.

When I heard e.lockhart had another one of her books rebranded by Hot Key books and it was one I hadn't read I couldn't wait to get my teeth stuck into it. My favourite has been We Were Liars of hers and to be honest I haven't read another that has come close yet. Unfortunately this doesn't make it into the same league of that book either.

I thought this sounded really interesting 'fly on the wall' scenario, when has anyone not wished they could be a fly on the wall at some time in their lives. This was just that though, the story was split into three sections. To be honest I found it difficult to link these all together and how they fit together. The first section we learn about Gretchen, who is a normal girl who goes to an artsy school, she knows little about boys and is always falling out with her friends. Gretchen makes a wish to be a fly on the wall and for some reason this actually comes true. This is the major issue for me, it is completely unbelievable, which would be fine if this was explained as to how this happened and for me this was a big fail.

The whole middle section is about Gretchen being this fly on the wall, the things she sees and hears on the wall of the boys locker room. Some of this is amusing, however some of the language used to describe parts of the anatomy I found was very immature.

The third section links a little more with the first but we still didn't know exactly how this all happened. This was a very short read at just over 170 page. I read this in a couple of hours and it did pass the time. I would not recommend this to older teenagers as I think they may find it a little irritating.

This book was O.K and only O.K I wouldn't be reading this again, which is a shame as I loved e. Lockharts We Were Liars, I am still trying to find another of hers, which holds up to this.

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

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Twenty Four Days to Christmas by Fred with guest post

Twenty Four Days to Christmas

Poppy is in agony - it is the First of December and she has twenty-four days to wait until Christmas and she is convinced that she will not be able to contain her excitement and impatience: How can she possibly wait so long for Santa to arrive? Poppy's parents put their heads together and come up with a cunning plan that has Poppy completing a different, Christmas themed activity every day, to keep Her busy until Christmas (and Santa) finally arrives. Twenty-Four Days to Christmas is an Advent Calendar of a book, which can be read one day at a time, or as a complete story, and centres on Christmas, family and the magic of the Christmas season. Purchase from Amazon UK - amazon

Twenty Four Days to ChristmasTwenty Four Days to Christmas by Fred Arthur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Christmas so was pleased I had the chance to read and review this. This is a story about Poppy and the 24 days leading up to Christmas. This is a picture book and there are images on every page, which would keep children really engaged.

I absolutely loved this book, it is told through a poem, it is cleverly written and rhymes in most places. We get taken on Poppy's journey leading up to Christmas, the days are filled with Christmassy things as she becomes impatient for Santa to arrive, being in the nativity, writing letters to Santa and getting the Christmas tree.

The illustrations really make this book, I thought they really brought the story to life. This picture book is going to become one of my firm favourites in my classroom and I will be sharing it with my class every year.

This is a real gem of a Christmas book to share with children, if you are looking for a sweet story this year, I recommend you choose this one.

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

Fred Arthur’s Top 9 Christmas Foods

1. Home made Christmas pudding and brandy sauce - Need I say any more?

2. Christmas day lunch (Except for Brussel Sprouts) - It is the central part of the family day!

3. Home made Mince Pies - Warm or cold; with or without cream!

4. Christmas party tea, cold meats, sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps, peanuts, yule log, Christmas Cake - A child’s paradise, more crackers, jokes

5. Home made Christmas Cake - Eaten the Yorkshire way, with a slice of cheese

6. Home made chocolate eclairs – Just Heaven

7. Tangerines - Lovely and sweet, and Santa always leaves one in Fred’s stocking!

8. Hot chocolate with marsh mallows - You can’t beat this after a good walk around the park in the cold air.

9. Quality street and Roses - It’s not just the sweets, it’s the smells; they bring back so many happy memories – Christmas isn’t Christmas without them

About Fred Arthur

Fred Arthur is the combined pen name for friends Pincher Martin and Mike Dineen who met working in the Royal Navy. Leaving school at the age of fifteen Pincher Martin entered the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman and now holds the rank of Commander. Living with his family in Plymouth but working in Portsmouth writing creative emails and text messages to his young daughter has become part of his daily life. Mike Dineen graduated from St Andrew’s University before joining the Royal Navy, and he too holds the rank of Commander. Mike lives with his wife in Pickering, North Yorkshire and works in Scotland. Both are keen sportsmen and qualified life coaches. Their goal is to become successful authors, so that when the Royal Navy finally forces them to retire, it will enable them to fulfil their shared desire to support local schools and libraries, satisfy their passion for writing and foster a belief in the importance of reading and imagination for children of all ages. 
Fred Arthur on Twitter -