Saturday, 25 June 2016

Peanuts & Eggcups Sara Mendes da Costa with extract





A fantastic read from start to finish, Sara Mendes da Costa writes with the charming wit of Helen Fielding and sharpness of Sophie Kinsella - S.Blair, reviewer

Ten years ago, Maggie’s heart was utterly broken by the love of her life -the gorgeous Luke Henderson- when he left her after their first, and only, night of passion, never to be seen again. Until now. With Luke back on the scene, Maggie needs answers and some closure.But when he doesn’t even have the courage to show up to their high school reunion, Maggie is left, once again, hurt and confused. Resolved to just get on with her life Maggie doesn’t foresee the arrival of Tony: Luke’s self-assured, tall, dark and handsome younger brother. He makes a long-time-coming beeline for Maggie and shakes up her world. Whether she likes it or not things have just got a whole lot more complicated and she doesn’t even know the half of it.

Recruiting her girlfriends -the unwaveringly optimistic and bubbly Cat, Jenny a feisty femme fatale (and also the brothers’ younger sister!) and Pauline the sensible voice of reason- Maggie tries to navigate herself through the romantic quagmire that is the Henderson brothers. The only thing she knows for sure is that she doesn’t want to settle for second best anymore and whatever the future holds she’s determined to do it her way. But what Maggie doesn’t know is that a plan has been hatched, a game is being played, and she is unwittingly embroiled in the middle. In fact, she’s the pawn on which the game rests and it’s going to take all her strength and resolve to break free and find happiness at last.


Extract:

For my protagonist, Maggie Parsons, a typical day for her – certainly for a chunk of Peanuts & Eggcups - is spent going to work in the marketing department of a telemarketing company. There she enjoys the company of her work colleagues (and friends) Maureen, Craig and Bill.

The following scene is where Maureen is keen to find out whether Maggie has decided to accept the invitation to her school reunion - where’s she likely to walk smack bang into the path of Luke Henderson, love of Maggie’s life, who left her ten years ago (without explanation) and who she hasn’t heard from since.


‘So, have you made your mind up about the reunion yet?’ Maureen asked eagerly, settling herself down at her desk and taking her hairbrush out of her bag to brush her ‘rather too long for her age’ hair. I had confided in Maureen when the invitation had arrived.

I tutted. ‘No, not yet.’ Taking a large mouthful of hot tea, I swallowed painfully. ‘I really don’t know what to do for the best,’ I admitted.

‘Oh but you have to go, Maggie, I’m dying to know how it all turns out. You never know, your Luke could still be the man of your dreams and two childhood sweethearts could end up falling in love all over again; please go,’ she pleaded.

‘Maybe he won’t go,’ I suggested. ‘Besides he’s not my Luke.’

‘I thought you saw his name on a list somewhere.’

‘I did. It was on the website. But it could just be a ploy to get people to sign up, you know like they did for the first Band Aid concert.’

‘Did they?’ she asked, surprised.

‘So I heard. Something to do with Bob Geldof convincing bands that other bands had already booked, when they hadn’t. Just so the new bands he was pitching would book and then he could convince the original ones to book after all, if you see what I mean; something like that anyway.’ My head began pounding.

Maureen looked very confused and I wondered if I’d got my facts right. Sir Bob had always been a bit of a hero of mine.

‘Well I’m sure they wouldn’t do that for something as important as your school reunion,’ she said seriously.

‘Anyway, why don’t you ask your friend… Julie? Didn’t you say they were related?’

‘Jenny. She’s his sister.’

‘There you go then, a perfect spy.’

I shrugged, trying to appear busy hoping she’d change the subject.

‘Oh Maggie, go on. Why not?’ she asked.

‘Why not what?’

‘Ask her!’

‘Maybe; I’ll think about it. I’ve just got to get this stuff sorted for Justin.’

Craig, having obviously eavesdropped, stuck his head over the partition again.

‘She’s hiding something, Mo’.’ He narrowed his eyes.

Suddenly Maureen, Craig and even Bill, were all staring at me. I blushed heavily.

‘Go away all of you!’ I shooed.

‘Spill!’ Craig fired a paper bullet at me through a makeshift peashooter.

‘Ouch!’ I frowned and began foraging around for food in my desk drawer, finding a half-eaten donut from the previous morning.

‘Look, I just don’t feel comfy talking to Jenny about Luke, that’s all.’

‘Why?’ They all chorused.

‘Oh for goodness sake, she doesn’t really know how things were back then, OK?’ I took a bite from the donut and jam oozed out, spilling onto my lap; typical.

Craig looked like he’d just completed a Rubik’s Cube. ‘I get it! Your bezzy mate doesn’t know you shagged her brother, right?’

‘Be quiet, Craig.’ Maureen passed me a tissue so I could wipe off the spilt jam. After a moment, she put her hand caringly on my arm. ‘Is that it though?’ she asked.

I tutted.

‘Do you think she’d mind?’ Bill sat opposite with his trademark green cardigan, and glasses halfway down his nose, sucking away on a Werther’s Original from the customary packet on his desk.

I had asked myself the very same question time after time. I felt, at some stage, the whole Luke thing would have to come out and I would be forced to come clean with my petite friend. I didn’t relish the idea of that at all. For someone so small, she had rather a large fiery temper.

‘What gives with this Luke bloke anyway?’ Craig asked dismissively. ‘Bet I could show him a thing or two.’

‘Craig, it’s a girl thing.’ Maureen explained. ‘It’s a very special bond between a girl and the boy she lost her virginity to.’

‘Maureen!’ I cried, swivelling around quickly to see who else might have heard.

‘Ahhh lost your cherry to him did ya? No wonder you’re in such a two and eight,’ Craig said, knowingly.

Maureen misted over. ‘Did you absolutely adore him, Maggie?’

‘I guess.’ ‘What does he look like?’

‘I don’t know! I haven’t seen him for ten years. He’s been living in Sweden for the past eight.’

‘So, what was he like back then?’



‘Kind of a young Brad Pitt I suppose, only better; much better,’ I said miserably. I was immediately transported back to my youth and visions of the young Luke flooded my mind. I got quite breathless just thinking about him, but then reminded myself of how it had ended; bastard.



About Sara Mendes da Costa


Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936. A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media. Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist. Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel - hotly anticipated by the industry - is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. ` A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire. Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017. 



Friday, 24 June 2016

Martini Henry by Sara Crowe

Martini HenryMartini Henry by Sara Crowe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Life isn’t an exact science. Things can be troublesome. Like pregnant step-mothers, the ins-and-outs of French existentialism . . . having an unexceptional name.

In 1988, seventeen-year-old Sue Bowl has a diary, big dreams and £4.73. What she wants most of all is to make it as a writer, as well as stop her decadent aunt Coral spending money she doesn't have.

Living in their crumbling ancestral home should provide plenty of inspiration, but between falling in love, hunting for missing heirlooms and internship applications, things keep getting in the way.

So when a young literary professor moves in and catches Sue's eye, life begins to take an unexpected turn . . .



I found Martini Henry a quirky book that reminded me of Adrian Mole, told through journal entries of Sue. Sue wants to be a writer and this is set in 1988, we learn about her aunts house, who she lives with and the lodgers who stay there to help pay the maintenance and upkeep of the home.

Reading this novel you feel you are growing up with Sue and helping her come of age, she discovers some treasures from her own family history. This is a different type of read to my everyday choice, I did enjoy it, however it was written in a very different style to what I have been used to.

I initially found this quite difficult to get into as it was relatively slow. It did progress well and its quite a heartwarming and gentle book.

Due to feeling it was quite slow and difficult to get into it I would give it 3 1/2*

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

Thursday, 23 June 2016

You had me at Merlot - Lisa Dickenson

2 years ago I posted a review of You had me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson, the novel was released in 4 parts and I loved reading it over the summer. To be honest I can't believe that was 2 years ago! But finally the day has come when this fabulous book has been published in paper back and if you haven't already grabbed a copy then I suggest you do as its amazing and perfect for the summer holidays. 

To celebrate its release I have posted you my review of the brilliant book, I hope this urges you go and buy a copy. 




About the book:

A four-part digital romantic comedy, You Had Me at Merlot is the kind of love story that will have you crying with laughter one moment and nodding your head in agreement the next. Full of sultry summer nights, hilarious moments and plenty of wine, it will warm even the most cynical of hearts and have you believing in the magic of romance… and of course, the power of a decent glass of Merlot.

Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they're single, they're not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren't filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine - she likes her independent life, she loves her job, and she has no desire to walk down the aisle anytime soon. But Laurie wants love and she wants it now.

So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. You Had Me at Merlot Holidays promises crisp sunshine, fun and a chance to stir up some sizzling romance. Elle has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else's idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?

Review:

I have decided to review this in different parts as there are 4 parts to the story. 

Part 1:

Elle loves her life, she is single and can do whatever she wants. She doesn't have to answer to anyone about what to watch on the T.V, how she decorates her house or how much of her life is devoted to her work. Laurie is her best friend but is completely different. She has decided that it is about time she settled down. The problem is though she is still single and is miserable because of it; she decides that it was about time that her and Elle went on holiday, not just anywhere though but to a wonderful place in Italy. What she reluctantly tells Elle is that it is a singles holiday. This does not thrill Elle with excitement but as she is a good, supporting friend, agrees to go along. 

I really liked Elle and Laurie as characters, right from the beginning I felt I could connect to them and wanted to tag along with them on their holiday to Italy. Although both girls are on the holiday for different reasons, they seem to balance each other really well and they both have some great one liners! 

At times I was laughing out loud! I must say the funniest part of part 1 I think has to be the incident with the Botox...

'Laurie dunked her face back in. I sat on the toilet (with the seat down, we're not thatclose) while she repeated the face- dunking several times and admired the bathroom.'

I could not stop laughing about this, I could actually see this playing out in my head and wanted to be in the bathroom with the girls! 

Part one is a great introduction to this book, it allows you to feel familiar with the characters and gives you a snippet of what you are in store for. This is a brilliant entrance to 'You had me at Merlot' and after reading this part you are going to want to download the next straight away!


Part 2:

Part 2 is where we meet Jamie! The owners son and the vineyard creator! We also are in for a surprise when we meet Elle's boss! This is not something you expect to happen to you on a singles holiday, oh and poor Elle, she has worked so hard with her image and reputation at work and now she feels she can't let her hair down as her boss, Donna will look down on her...

There is so much we learn in part two and the pace of the book is excellent, we are introduced to the first 'getting to know one another' challenges is a blindfolded wine tasting game. This is where guests will be matched up depending on the wine they seem to have a taste for. Then jumping straight into grape crushing and a trip to Florence! This part really has it all; if you weren't already racing through the book, you will be now! 

We also begin to see a different side of Elle, she wants to keep a low profile and has stated she is not interested in finding a partner, this is not the reason she is on the trip! However 'George' the most annoying character in the world is born and continues to try his luck!!!

I absolutely loved the trip to Florence, from visiting myself I felt I had been transported back there again and could picture where all the characters were. If you haven't been to Florence, after reading part two, you are going to want to jump on the next plane there, even if it is only to see the statue of David...

I would say the trip to Florence I think is one of my favourite parts of the book at the moment, not only is it a beautiful setting but it just seems to be turning out wrong for poor Jamie and Elle, everyone on the trip is annoying and you just wish they would bug off! 

So here are some of my favourite quotes from part 2...

''Yes, go in, look around, go up the dome if you dare.'

Jane stepped forward. 'Is there a lift?'

'There's not going to be a bloody lift, you bloody idiot!' shrieked Vicky.'

I loved this, had me rolling in stitches! I also loved the photo incident with David, couldn't quote that! Would be the longest quote in the world! You will just have to grab yourself a copy to know which bit I am talking about!

''Well those mannequins do have fantastic bums,' I coughed.'

Admiring the views in a sexy undies shop... again very funny! 

As you can see things are hotting up and you will need to pre order part 3 to continue with the story, it is ace and once you will want on your kindle this summer!

Part 3:

I began to really get hooked into You Had Me at Merlot in part 3, I was loving it and racing through the pages so quick I didn't want it to end!

I really enjoyed the misinterpreted marriage proposal and this had me not wanting to put the book down. Barriers between Donna and Elle begin to break down and they both realise there is more to each other than their work lives. Elle, becomes enlightened about aspects of the company she works for she didn't know and Donna is thinking about changing direction, can they help each other? 

I really love this part of the book, everyone is beginning to come together and it shows that strangers can come together to make something wonderful happen. New friendships blossom and the setting just keeps getting beautiful, god! Take me to Italy now! 

Some of my faviourite quotes from this part? Oh go on then!

''Go ahead.'
'What's wrong?'
'Nothing. Shit - ask me.'
'Do you mean "shoot"?''

I actually could not stop laughing when I read this! I had to calm down before I could carry on as I thought I would be missing the next part! 

''What if I didn't shave my legs?'
'I don't shave mine, so I can't complain.''

Another classic and I wonder if all blokes look at it this way? 

Another brilliant part from Dickenson and if you already have not downloaded part 4 you need to now as you are not going to want to miss it!

Part 4:

Although the book is a very funny one, there are also moments of sadness and times to make you think and question your own life, which is done brilliantly. Friendship is covered brilliantly and the strength and what you would do for your friends really brings it home. Elle never wanted to go on a singles holiday but she did for her best friend; as it turns out she discovered a lot about herself and others around her. 

There is something that will really shock you in part 3 and you will not have been expecting it at all! This as a reader changed my opinion on some people in the story (I don't want to say too much so not to spoil it for you.)

This is a whole journey, you feel you have been on along with Laurie and Elle and all the other guests that have arrived on their holiday. 

So favourite quote of part 4?

''Owww,' she warbled from inside the hedge. 'Get off, these are expensive knickers.'

The story as a whole is not that long, however it feels so much longer, Dickenson has a way with words to include so much into paragraphs. I was only a few pages away from the end and another big part of the story happened, I  had no idea how it was going to end. It was wrapped up wonderfully though and didn't feel rushed at all. 

I thoroughly enjoyed all parts of this story and it is one I would read again and again. It is one to include in your suitcase for you holiday; if you are not going away this year you are still going to not want to miss out on this! It is perfect even for afternoons in the garden and of course with a lovely glass of wine!

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


About the Author:

LISA DICKENSON was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyonce. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She's now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who'll visit. She is sadly still not Beyonce.

Lisa's first novel, The Twelve Dates of Christmas, winner of the Novelicious Debut of the Year Award, was an instant hit with readers who were won over by her wit, charm and naughty sense of humour - she's got her fingers crossed that everyone feels the same about You Had Me at Merlot.

 Follow her on Twitter for all her book news and Beyonce-related chatter: @LisaWritesStuff













Monday, 20 June 2016

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan

The Last Days of SummerThe Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

She can forgive. They can't forget.

After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she's letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.

Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.

Jasper says he's all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door ...






Unfortunately I have found this book very hard to read and review.

This sounded just like something I would love to read, it is a slow burner, mystery and told from the perspective of 4 characters.

Jasper has been in prison and after a decade is being released, his sister Lizzie has two kids and lives on the outskirts of the town of her family, in her families house. Lizzies feels it is her duty to support Jasper, he has no one else. He could however now be a danger to her daughters, she reminds herself he is in the brother she used to know.

I had quite a few issues with this book, the first was the pace, it was so slow, I understand why this was the case, to help build tension. However when you work full time and only have half an hour here and there to get into a book it needs to have good pace, something that I feel this book was lacking.

Another gripe of mine is the fact this book had no chapters in, the points of view jumped around and we were reading from different characters perspectives but there were no chapters to break it up. This again made it hard for me to only read a few pages here and there, I also found when I picked the book up again I had to reread what I had already read, as there was no marker and I couldn't remember where I had got to.

I really, really wanted to love this book, from the blurb it had me hooked but unfortunately it didn't deliver for me. It took me weeks to get only half way through the book, there were pockets within the novel that I was really interested in, but not enough to make me want to race through it.

The book did pick up in the last quarter of it, but for me it was too late, I had been bored, I couldn't connect with the characters and by then I wasn't bothered what happened.

This is not a book that I would recommend, unless you have a large amount of time to get into it initially. Perhaps I would have felt differently about the book if I had that time to begin with.

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

Friday, 17 June 2016

Wildflower Bay: Part One by Rachael Lucas

Wildflower Bay: Part OneWildflower Bay: Part One by Rachael Lucas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Serialized as three short ebooks, this is the stunning first part of Wildflower Bay, by Rachael Lucas.

Isla's got the designer clothes and dream job as head stylist at the most exclusive salon in Edinburgh. The fact that she's been so single-minded in this quest that she's forgotten to have a life has completely passed her by - until disaster strikes.

With her flaky flat mate AWOL and even her reliable old dad a bit distracted, Isla is out of options.

Forced into a corner, she heads to the remote island of Auchenmor to help out her aunt who is in desperate need of an extra pair of hands at her salon.

Finn is thirty-five and reality has just hit him hard. Now his best friends are about to have a baby and everything is changing. When into his life walks Isla . . .



When I saw this was a freebie and a short story I couldn't wait to read it.

Many of you who follow my reviews will know that I enjoy serialisations as it means I can get into a story and really feel like a sense of achievement after reading it after a long day at work.

So far I am loving this series, we follow Isla, a top hair stylist, however she has had a bit of a sad past. Her mother pasted away when she was young. I really got into this story and I found it to be sad in places. I really felt for Isla and was rooting for her from early on. When she is called upon to look after her aunts salon in a remote part of Scotland, it doesn't thrill Isla as she remembers dull summers there as a child. However her options are limited and her dad keeps suggesting she goes, so she decides it can't be that bad and heads off there.

The only disappointing part to the story is the point where we leave it. Isla has only really arrived at the salon and starting to sort things out. I honestly have no idea where this novel is going to go, however it is written so well and flows easily that I cannot wait for the next installment. I think this is a very easy and quick book to read.

I am so pleased I decided to download and give this book a go, it has been the first of Racheal's books I have read, but it certainly won't be the last. I have one of her other books sitting waiting to be read and I am very impressed with this little delight so I will probably get to the novel soon.

I cannot wait for the next part of the story, if you haven't read this or downloaded this yeat, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a copy!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Oedipus Plays Oedipus The King – Oedipus At Colonus - Antigone An Audible Original Drama

HAYLEY ATWELL, SAMANTHA BOND AND JULIAN GLOVER STAR
IN NEW ORIGINAL AUDIO DRAMA OF A CLASSIC GREEK TRADGEDY

The Oedipus Plays
Oedipus The King – Oedipus At Colonus - Antigone

An Audible Original Drama

Directed by Garrick Hagon, translated by Ian Johnston








AVAILABLE FROM 14TH JUNE 2016
Pre-order now

Charged with emotion, a vivid ancient classic full of passion, incest, murder and suicide tells the story of a noble family creeping towards its downfall

A brand new audio drama, The Oedipus Plays – starring Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Jamie Glover (Waterloo Road), Michael Maloney (Casualty), Samantha Bond (Bond movies) and Julian Glover (The Empire Strikes Back) – is available to download for free for one month from 14th June at www.audible.co.uk/oedipus.
A compilation of Oedipus The KingOedipus At Colonus and AntigoneThe Oedipus Plays have remained relevant since their original conception by Sophocles some 2,500 years ago and will transport listeners into a world of death, lust and violence. 
Oedipus The King, the most well-known story from the compilation, follows the King of Thebes as he unknowingly kills his father, marries his mother and begets children with her in an incestuous union. The consequences are far-reaching, affecting Oedipus’ children and carrying over into Oedipus At Colonus, which tells the story of the rest of his life. Antigone follows the life of Oedipus’ daughter (voiced by Hayley Atwell) and shows the influence of her father’s actions on the next generation.
Tracey Markham, Country Manager at Audible.co.uk said of the recording: “We are thrilled to be able to bring these epic, sweeping plays s to new listeners, voiced by some of the UK’s top acting talent. The Oedipus plays have stood the test of time and the elements of passion, violence and lust they contain are as relevant today as they were when they were first written.”
Hayley Atwell says of voicing Antigone, “She is quite an extraordinary character, someone who very much stands alone from her surroundings, someone who has been born out of great trouble and manages to find dignity in it… What makes her extraordinary is that she is able to feel compassion and appeal to others to be compassionate towards Oedipus and therefore herself… I think that takes a lot of strength and self-awareness to be able to see herself through other people’s eyes.”

Jamie Glover (voicing Oedipus) says of The Theban Plays“It’s quite remorseless...Intense – yes, but there is something so very front-footed about the way that these plays deserve to be, and need to be, presented...But remorseless would be the word that I would use. It just goes from one very strong set piece to another.”

Samantha Bond says of voicing Jocasta, “When Jocasta realizes who Oedipus is in her life, it was fascinating standing beside the two male actors as they talk and try to visualize how one would play it on a stage. Because she has no words. She just stands and listens and this extraordinary series of events becomes vividly clear for her…Once she’s worked out who he is and what they’ve done, she’s desperate to try and stop him finding out. And that’s fascinating. What we won’t ever know: if he had stopped trying to find out, whether they would’ve gone on being a married couple together.”

The Oedipus Plays was directed and produced by Garrick Hagon and translated by Ian Johnston with especially commissioned music from composer Roger Marsh. It is available to download from 14th June (pre-order now) at www.audible.co.uk/oedipus.

Cast List
Oedipus – Jamie Glover
Antigone – Hayley Atwell
Jocasta – Samantha Bond
Creon – Michael Maloney
Teiresias – Julian Glover




Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Moomin Colouring Book by Macmillan Children's Books

The Moomin Colouring BookThe Moomin Colouring Book by Macmillan Children's Books
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This stylish and unique Moomin Colouring Book features original artwork from the coveted archive of Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins; one of the most cherished children's book series ever written.

Beautifully conceived and designed, this contemporary colouring book features striking patterns and scenes as well as all your favourite Moomin characters and their most memorable quotes. The perfect gift for Moomin fans of all ages.



When I was sent this book to review I couldn't wait, I remember The Moomins as a child and loved it. I especially loved it when I went to Finland and discovered they have a Moomin Land! - Anyway enough of that, lets get on with the review.

The paper is quite thick, although I haven't used sharpies on this as I am unsure whether it would be thick enough to stop the colour coming through. I have used pencils though and I was really impressed with the look of it.

The sleeve of the book is beautiful too with gold elements on it, although it is not a hardback it is really sturdy and strong.

I took this into school for the children to colour during some free time and they loved it, they are 6 and 7, the illustrations are perfect for them. They are not too detailed or difficult to follow, which was perfect for them.

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