Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Her Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn

Her Perfect LifeHer Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A brilliantly twisty psychological thriller for fans of I Let You Go and Behind Closed Doors.

How far would you go to create the perfect Life?

Gracie Dwyer has it all: the handsome husband, the adorable child, the beautiful home and the glittering career. The perfect life.

Her new friend Juliet doesn’t exactly fit in. She’s a down-on-her-luck single parent with no money and not much hope.

So just what is it that draws Gracie and Juliet together? And when the cracks start to appear in Gracie’s perfect life, can both of them survive?



Unfortunately I found this one really hard to get into and the frequent character switches were confusing but I did stick it out to the end and the twist was worth the wait. I felt the novel could have been a lot shorter which would have made no difference to the impact at the end.

The story centers around the friendship of two women, one appears to have everything, the other nothing. It is told from the perspective of Gracie and Juliet but I didn't much like either one of these characters so it was hard to care about them or keep reading.The novel is also peppered with extracts from a diary from the past by someone called Pauline Bryce. The task then is to discover who this person is and how she fits into the lives of these two women.

Trying to guess who or where the author of the diary inserts was does keep the reader going but as I said it is a bit drawn out. Once things start to connect the pace did pick up but to be honest it was only determination to finish that stopped me giving up half way through which really would have been a shame as the twist at the end, for me, was totally unexpected. It is for this reason that I have awarded this 4 stars.

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

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken HeartThe Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abi's barely left her bed since Joseph, the love of her life, dumped her, saying they were incompatible.

When Joseph leaves a box of her possessions on her doorstep, she finds a bucket list of ten things she never knew he wanted to do. What better way to win him back than by completing the list, and proving they're a perfect match?

But there's just one problem - or rather, ten. Abi's not exactly the outdoorsy type, and she's absolutely terrified of heights - not ideal for a list that includes climbing a mountain, cycling around the Isle of Wight and, last but not least, abseiling down the tallest building in town . . .

Completing the list is going to need all Abi's courage - and a lot of help from her friends. But as she heals her broken heart one task at a time, the newly confident Abi might just have a surprise in store . .




Typical chic lit and a humorous holiday read, nothing too heavy to digest in this lighthearted book.

Being dumped before her years anniversary Abi is feeling very Bridget Jones ish and shuts herself away in her flat to consume her bodyweight in trash food and weep in front of old movies. Once Joseph drops off her belongings and she is forced to go through them she comes across his bucket list of things to do before he's 40 and she comes up the crazy plan to do them herself and try and win him back.

Anna Bell takes us on the bucket list journey and her new friendships that she makes along the way especially the lovely Ben who helps her complete the tasks.

It's about love, friendship and discovering herself for Abi and eventually the realisation that maybe what she thought she wanted wasn't what she really wanted at all.

Well written with some good bits of humour this book easily sits with the good chic lits out there, maybe not as polished and as funny as the Sophie Kinsella's but still an enjoyable read. Easily gets 4 stars from me.

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

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Brazilian by Rosie Millard

The BrazilianThe Brazilian by Rosie Millard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Following a sensational scandal at one of London's most desired postcodes, Jane and Patrick decide to escape the gossip with a family holiday to Ibiza, their eight-year-old son George in tow.

Also on the island that week is a TV reality show involving an eccentric artist, a horny It Girl, a Brazilian footballer and a famous magician.

As hapless celebrities are picked off one by one, Jane is desperate to be on the programme, leaving childcare in the not so capable hands of a teenager.

One lesbian escapade and an explosive row over hair removal later, the contestants of Ibiza or Bust leave the island with more than sand in places they never knew existed...



Very easy read and perfect for holiday lazing beside the pool.

I had read Rosie Millard's The Square and this one is just as enjoyable. Good characterisation and another really likeable 'grown up' 8 year old for me steals the show. Loved the antics of these flawed characters and brilliant humour and irony dominates this very likeable novel.

Jane and Patrick go on a 'family' holiday to Ibiza with their adorable son George, Jane enlists the help of a neighbours 17 year old daughter Belle to be the nanny for the duration of the holiday paying for her flight and promising to pay her £500 in the bargain. Belle desperately wants to save for a music festival she wants to go to with her boyfriend and so agrees. Jas her boyfriend works for Philip Burrell and when he tells him he's going away for a week maybe two (he doesn't tell him where) Jas and Belle hatch a plan for Jas to go to Ibiza as well and they can meet up in the evenings and go clubbing.

Also on the island that week is a TV reality show with B list celebs including an ageing artist Philip Burrell, a magician Jasper the Wizard, a TV financial advisor Alan Makin, an It girl Cresta who is married to Moo a celebrity farmer also on the show, Nigel and Jocelyn presenters of a holiday show, Gemma a celebrity estate agent and the surprise appearance of a well known Brazilian footballer Francesco Villa. Philip Burrell the artist and Alan Makin the advisor both live on the same square in North London and hate each other.

These 'celebs' spend the next week or so forced together eventually voting against each other until a winner is picked on this reality TV show Ibiza or Bust.

Good comedy moments in this novel and like The Square the characters are very real and believable, great observational writing with great wit and expertly written . Has to have 5 stars from me. Loved it

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

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Mad by Chloe J. Esposito

Mad (Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know Trilogy #1)Mad by Chloe J. Esposito
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this compulsively readable debut, set between London and Sicily over one blood-drenched week in the dead of summer, an identical twin reveals the crazy lies and twists she'll go through to not only steal her sister's perfect life, but to keep on living it.

Alvie Knightly is a trainwreck: aimless, haphazard, and pretty much constantly drunk. Alvie's existence is made even more futile in contrast to that of her identical and perfect twin sister, Beth. Alvie lives on social media, eats kebabs for breakfast, and gets stopped at security when the sex toy in her carry-on starts buzzing. Beth is married to a hot, rich Italian, dotes on her beautiful baby boy, and has always been their mother's favorite. The twins' days of having anything in common besides their looks are long gone.
When Beth sends Alvie a first-class plane ticket to visit her in Italy, Alvie is reluctant to go. But when she gets fired from the job she hates and her flatmates kick her out on the streets, a luxury villa in glitzy Taormina suddenly sounds more appealing. Beth asks Alvie to swap places with her for just a few hours so she can go out unnoticed by her husband. Alvie jumps at the chance to take over her sister's life--if only temporarily. But when the night ends with Beth dead at the bottom of the pool, Alvie realizes that this is her chance to change her life.
Alvie quickly discovers that living Beth's life is harder than she thought. What was her sister hiding from her husband? And why did Beth invite her to Italy at all? As Alvie digs deeper, she uncovers Mafia connections, secret lovers, attractive hitmen, and one extremely corrupt priest, all of whom are starting to catch on to her charade. Now Alvie has to rely on all the skills that made her unemployable--a turned-to-11 sex drive, a love of guns, lying to her mother--if she wants to keep her million-dollar prize. She is uncensored, unhinged, and unforgettable.



When this arrived unexpectedly I was really excited, looking at the front cover and reading the blurb I couldn't wait to get started, so I did, straight away! I read this book in 24 hours, as soon as I started I was hooked and needed to get to the next chapter.

This book is set over the period of a week and oh my word does a lot happen, I had to keep reminding myself that it was just a week, which when you read it will agree that that is insane!

'Mad' is such an easy book to get into, Chloe's writing is almost conversational and flows well, I guess this is because it is written in the first person, you feel you know the main character very well. Our main character is Alvina, a identical twin of a sister she hasn't seen in two years, who now lives in Sicily.

Alvina is the 'poorer' sister, the 'outcast' of the family, the one that no one loved and this is evident through flashbacks in the book. Her behaviour most of the time is unacceptable, but at times I was warming to her in the book, feeling sorry for her and starting to perhaps understand at times why she was the way she is, however this does wear off at I read further into the book. She is not particularly very likable and if you are looking for a lovely protagonist this book is not for you.

Beth, Alvina's sister wants her to go and visit but Alvina cannot think of anything worse, that is until she loses her job, gets kicked out of her flat and has no money. She is then on the next flight to Sicily.

I won't go into too much detail from here as I don't want to spoil it for you. What I would stay is that I was very surprised about this. At times I was unsure what genre it was as there are elements from women's fiction, thriller, erotic fiction and even has humour in it. I think that is a major asset this book has as it could appeal to many audiences.

I really, really enjoyed the first half of the book and as I said I couldn't put it down, towards the end though and I suppose indicates how the book got it's title 'Mad' it got a bit far-fetched for me and perhaps loses reality. However, it did not spoil the enjoyment for me and I continued to whiz through the novel. This is not like any book I have read and I really enjoyed it for that reason, I hope to get my hands on the next in the series as I can't wait to find out what Alvina gets up to next one.

I would recommend this as a summer beach read, it is highly addictive and will have you racing through it.

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

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Devil's Poetry blitz












Summary:


Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution - too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadave
ri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war?

Dare she read this book? What’s the price - and who pays it?

Commended in the Yeovil Prize 2016, this is an action-packed blend of adventure, fantasy and love story.

Book Information

Title: The Devil’s Poetry
Author: Louise Cole
Release Date: 13th June 2017
Genre: YA Thriller
Publisher: Kindle Press
Format: Ebook Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35148705-the-devil-s-poetry Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B06XWL4XPJ
























Author Info:
Louise Cole has spent her life reading and writing. And very occasionally gardening. Sometimes she reads as she gardens. She can be seen walking her dogs around North Yorkshire - she's the on
e with a couple of cocker spaniels and a Kindle. She read English at Oxford - read being the operative word - and hasn't stopped reading since.



In her day-job she is an award-winning journalist, a former business magazine editor and director of a media agency. She writes about business but mainly the business of moving things around: transport, logistics, trucks, ships, and people.



Her fiction includes short stories, young adult thrillers, and other stuff which is still cooking.



Her YA and kids’ fiction is represented by Greenhouse Literary Agency and she is also published on Amazon as one of the Marisa Hayworth triumvirate.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryRogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Go beyond the film with a novelization featuring new scenes and expanded material.

As the shadows of the Empire loom ever larger across the galaxy, so do deeply troubling rumors. The Rebellion has learned of a sinister Imperial plot to bring entire worlds to their knees. Deep in Empire-dominated space, a machine of unimaginable destructive power is nearing completion. A weapon too terrifying to contemplate . . . and a threat that may be too great to overcome.

If the worlds at the Empire’s mercy stand any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies: Jyn Erso, a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; Cassian Andor, a war-weary rebel commander; Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire’s military; Chirrut Ïmwe, a blind holy man and his crack-shot companion, Baze Malbus; and K-2SO, a deadly Imperial droid turned against its former masters. In their hands rests the new hope that could turn the tide toward a crucial Rebellion victory―if only they can capture the plans to the Empire’s new weapon.

But even as they race toward their dangerous goal, the specter of their ultimate enemy―a monstrous world unto itself―darkens the skies. Waiting to herald the Empire’s brutal reign with a burst of annihilation worthy of its dreaded name: Death Star.



This is the novelisation of last Christmas’s blockbuster movie of the same name. It is written by Alexander Freed who previously penned Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company and follows a ragtag band of rebels trying to steal the plans to the Death Star.

The novel flows naturally and at a good pace, it introduces the characters we see in the movie and provides interesting backstories, certainly in the case of Cassian Andor. It is easy to see why Freed was given the chance to write this particular novelisation, as he is able to build on the war-like novel he had previously written, he is certainly honing his craft in the sci-fi war genre.

If you enjoyed the film then you will enjoy the book regardless of the fact that it suffers from a lack of surprises (but that is only due to it already being a film). You get to see all the characters from the movie and all the action, only in a little more detail as well as understanding their motives a little better. It is always nice to see the return of characters from the original trilogy, and with the Tarkin moments being written very well it makes it all the better (needless to say, it really gets good when Vader arrives on the scene).

Overall, this is a good companion piece to the movie that offers a few extras for those of us that eat up anything canon, and one that I would recommend you read. However, if you are short on time the film is probably the best way forward.

I give this 3.5 stars but this has been rounded up to 4 for Goodreads and Amazon.

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

Friday, 9 June 2017

Battlefront - Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

Battlefront - Twilight CompanyBattlefront - Twilight Company by Alexander Freed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The bravest soldiers. The toughest warriors. The ultimate survivors.

Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers—bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises—are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground.

Leading the charge are the soldiers—men and women, human and nonhuman—of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation—and gives the Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence.

Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver—trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.



This novel offers a unique perspective on the Star Wars universe, focusing on a band of unremarkable people who form the rebel unit Twilight Company. This is not to say that Battlefront Twilight Company is an unremarkable story, quite the opposite, this normalcy, is what makes it so remarkable.

The story takes on the feel of the TV show Band of Brothers, although the setting makes the characters more reminiscent of the Marine troop in Aliens. With much of the narrative focused on the characters within Twilight Company, we experience a very close-up and at times uncomfortable view of rebellion life and the hardships they go through. And although the novel at times lacks that Star Wars feel, slowly but surely, we begin to care for the members of Twilight.

The novel does a good job of tying together several major battles seen in the movies with its own original conflicts. It is also another example of the Star Wars universes expansion, introducing several new planets and species. Several highlights in the book are the creations of Gedren (a profound and solemn Alien), Governor Chalis (probably the most interesting character), Prelate Verge (a sadistic sycophant in the service of the Empire) and a brief appearance from Darth Vader.

Ultimately, the novel is a very good story of non-force users doing there bit against the Empire. One of the only criticisms of the novel is that it takes time to get going, but this could be because it introduces so many new characters and tells a Star Wars story from an unfamiliar perspective. However, I have no problems with recommending this book, written by Alexander Freed to any other Star Wars fan.

I have given this 3.5* which has been rounded up to 4 for Goodreads and Amazon.

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

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell

What Alice KnewWhat Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

How far would you go to keep a secret?

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.



I didn't really enjoy this book. It promised so much and delivered so little. The writing was good and the story line could have had good mileage but I felt the author's characters were flat and unrealistic and he asked the reader to accept some scenarios that really were not believable.

It's essentially about a murder that takes place early on in the novel and the rest is how those involved find their lives changed forever and tests loyalty against truth and justice. There is a heavy slant on art as Alice is a celebrated portrait artist (the author studied Art History at university) and it seems she spends her time comparing and contrasting events to fit in with artistic views of seeing deeper into the canvas of life/humanity and bases her views and judgements accordingly.

I skim read a lot of this book so that I could pass irrelevant annoying passages to try and get to the nitty gritty of the novel although there was none really. It became as much about Alice atoning for mistakenly accusing her best friend of theft and ruining her life and her striving for perfection as it did about an unfortunate accident involving her husband and how it changed their lives. The author had so much to work with but he just didn't deliver.

I didn't like Alice or any of the characters; she came across as selfish and self possessed, the author made much of her love of her family and concern for their well-being but in truth she spent little time with them being self absorbed in her painting and seeing little around her. I didn't like Ed who was also wrapped up in his work as an obstetrician and more concerned with his reputation and social standing than his wife and family. Both the characters were under developed and lacked any qualities that would create a connection to the reader (or indeed a credible connection to each other) or invoke empathy. Random sub plot of Alice's family and that of her school days didn't do anything to lift this rather boring novel. It poses the question of how far would you go to protect someone you love but really falls short on reality. The ending was in my opinion just not believable especially since Ed gets off scot-free and it begs the question why she feels she has to become the victim in all this, her action even at the end is not selfless to protect those she loves it comes across as someone who wants to be seen as a martyr.

Really didn't like this one at all and can only give it 2 star rating.

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

Monday, 5 June 2017

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes, #1)Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the 'Ragdoll'. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?



Its rare in my opinion that a books lives up to its hype but this one really does. Right from the start the author kicks you on to a high speed thriller ride and won't let you off until the end. Every chapter builds on the suspense and pushes you on this roller coaster of a ride experience. Gory killings/murders, breakneck fast speed and likeable flawed characters all make for a great piece of storytelling.

How can you better the opening discovery of six victims a body part from each sewn together to make one horrific complete body which the press nickname as 'The Ragdoll?' Surely this is the culmination of the story? I wanted to know who these victims were, why they were murdered and what the significance of stitching them together was. This alone makes you read on but there is so much more to this clever plot to come and it was great fun getting there with plenty of blind alleys and red herrings along the way and good dollop of humour that brings this all together. Daniel Cole didn't disappoint far from the discovery of the 'Ragdoll' being the culmination of the story it's really only the beginning.

I loved Wolf the deeply damaged and at times vulnerable Detective who is assigned to the case and his former equally damaged partner Detective Emily Baxter. All the team assigned to this case are realistically crafted characters that work well together. Lots of curve balls in this clever plot made it almost impossible for me to put this one down.

I have to say that I didn't and possibly couldn't have guessed the twists and the ending to come - great mastery of storytelling and 'showing' the reader as the true horror unfolds - brilliant. What a finish or was it? Can't wait to read the next one to find out ........oops.......can't say anymore you'll just have to read it!

If there was any fault with this book it was really only that there were times when things became a bit confusing as the point of view changes within some of the chapters and for this reason I have given the novel a 4.5 star rating. It has been rounded up for Goodreads and Amazon.

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

Friday, 2 June 2017

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .



I had this book on my shelf for quite a while and never got round to reading it. When I realised the paper back had just been released I thought this would be a great time to read and review it.

I have never read any books by Clare Mackintosh but was excited to start after hearing such great things about her books. This captured my interest right from the beginning, I think the premise is something most people can relate to, a commute, a journey that someone takes every day. We follow Zoe Walker, a women who takes the same route to work, sits in the same carriage of the train, at the same time of day.

Zoe is on her commute one night and is reading the free paper, when she turns to the classified section and sees an image of herself staring back up at her, this is what she things, although the image isn't clear and she doesn't seem to wearing her glasses. When she arrives home she mentions it to her family, who although agree that the photo is like her don't think it is actually her.

As days pass things don't seem to add up to Zoe and she begins to mention her concerns to the local police, who are investigating a series of crimes in the area. Kelly a British Transport Police Officer takes a special interest in the case and pursues it.

This was a good read, it had good pace and kept my interest throughout. I think the subject matter is relevant and many can relate to the situation. When you get to a part of the book you suddenly see little clues that had been planted throughout the story and were all being nicely tied together. I read this quite quickly, over a weekend and working full time this doesn't happen often. That to me is a sign that it kept me interested and that I wanted to find out what happened.

I give this book 4.5*, for me rounded up to 5 for Amazon and Goodreads, it was excellent, however in places I found it a little far fetched and that it ended a little sudden after all the building of the plot. Overall though I would recommend this to others.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Back to Front World of Azze Artbuckle by Beth Montogmery blog tour




The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle written and illustrated by Beth Montgomery —who herself wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until she was thirty-seven years old— explores the muddled life of the charming Azzie Arbuckle who loves painting but struggles with reading letters and numbers which makes her feel stupid. If only she could tell someone…

You can follow Azzie on Twitter @Back2FrontWorld and Her web page Azzie Artbuckle Purchase on Amazon UK | Amazon.com


My Review:


This is a fantastic book to share with a class, it really helps children who has dyslexia or dyslexic traits to understand that they are not alone and that others can feel the same as them when it comes to reading and writing. I also think it will help others who don't struggle in this area understand that not all children find things as easy as them.

This is a lovely story and has great illustrations that children will enjoy. I would recommend this being read to all children around 6-9. I really loved that the book doesn't just focus on what Azzie can't do but also celebrates her creative skill and how good she is at it. This highlights the fact that dyslexic children have a strength and that they can be good at things in other areas.

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



About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. 

All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk. 

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books


Monday, 29 May 2017

The Forever House by Veronica Henry

The Forever HouseThe Forever House by Veronica Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hunter's Moon is the ultimate 'forever' house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys' home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets - and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past. .


I have read a few books by Veronica Henry and I have enjoyed all of them, when I discovered she had released a new novel 'The Forever House' I couldn't wait to get stuck into it. I had a real personal connection with this book, as I am currently in the process of buying my own forever house.

Belinda is an estate agent and she has high value houses on her books, when she hears about a potential dream home coming onto the market she wants to make sure it is her that can secure it for their books. They decide to have an 'open house' and then put forward the highest offer to try and keep the house out of the public eye for too long and to not have too much disruption.

The book jumps between the 1960's where we find out how Sally and Alexander met, who owned the house and the present day. As we go through the book, you discover that there are many secrets that have come out of Hunters Moon.

I loved the setting of this book and the characters had a lot of depth to them. I really enjoyed this, for me it was a lovely spring book set in the countryside.

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

Friday, 26 May 2017

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn (Star Wars)Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power―uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power―and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Anakin Skywalker; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again―even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat, leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral―and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy―and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendency.




Thrawn is a great introduction to one of the Star Wars Universe’s greatest creations, and an excellent re-introduction of a character well-known to many. Timothy Zahn returns as writer to the first canonised novel of the titular Thrawn, that chronicles the rise to power of several very important characters. The novel contains two intersecting story line that link-up several times throughout.

The novel begins with an exiled Thrawn being discovered by the Empire on an Outer Rim world, where he is then taken to meet with the Emperor. Finding the Chiss interesting and learning of his meeting with a trusted ally, the Emperor offers Thrawn a position within the Imperial Navy. To help Thrawn’s understanding of the language and of etiquette within the galaxy, he is provided with and interpreter and aide Ensign Eli Vanto. They spend the next three months on Coruscant graduating from the Imperial Academy, where Thrawn is immediately given the rank of Lieutenant and both are assigned to the ship Blood Crow.

During this time, we meet Arihnda Pryce, the daughter of a mining family on the planet of Lothal. She is persuaded to hand her parents mining business over to the Empire by Senator Renking who offers her a low-level job working for him on Coruscant. Whilst there, Arihnda slowly makes her way up the social scale rubbing shoulders with many Senators and Governors. Thrawn and Eli quickly move up through the various ranks within the Imperial Navy with Thrawn displaying his impressive skill for Military tactics, which in turn lead him to many Imperial victories. Only one enemy eludes him, an enemy known as Nightswan.

Thrawn is a fantastic read for all. It is the perfect way for fans to learn more about the character seen on Star Wars Rebels, whilst also giving the fans that know of Thrawn’s non-canon adventure’s new information about his history and rise within the Empire’s ranks. It perfectly links to the TV series Star Wars Rebels, detailing Thrawn’s movements right up to his entrance on that show. It leaves us wanting more, whilst also leaving us with many questions that need answers!

Four and a half stars, rounded up to 5 for Goodreads and Amazon.

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


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding Hood by Jane Clarke

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding HoodSky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding Hood by Jane Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



A Fairytale Mystery starring Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, the Wolf and Sky Private Eye.

Little Red Riding Hood is bereft - Grandma has gone missing! The Big Bad Wolf has left telltale hairs at Granny's house... Has the Big Bad Wolf gobbled her up, or did he follow her on her beach side holiday, waiting to fatten her up?

Sky Private Eye with her bag of detective tricks and Just-in-time cupcake recipes is sure to solve the mystery in no time at all.



This is a completely different take on Little Red Riding hood. Those who know the story well will enjoy this version of the story. It would be key that children have some knowledge of the story before they read this one as this is loosely based on the story but is almost more of a follow on.

I read this story to the whole of Key Stage 1 and Early Years during an assembly. All 300 ish children were engaged and were eager to see what was going to happen next. Although they knew the characters from the original tale, they were completely surprised with this 'adaptation'.

In this story we have a more modern twist to it, Little Red Riding Hood is worried about Grandma, she isn't in her house and she has a feeling the Big Bad Wolf would have got her, she decides to call Skye Private Eye and allow her to investigate where grandma has gone. When she turns up to quickly discovers that Grandma hasn't been eaten but has gone on holiday! Suspecting the worse as they discover clues they go in search for grandma.

Although miles away from the original story, this was enjoyable and the children were intrigued and wanted to find out what was going to happen. A lovely touch at the end of the story was the recipe in case you want to make the cupcakes which are mentioned in the story.

Although this is not going to take over from the original story of Little Red Riding Hood, this is a nice alternative that children enjoy. The illustrations are great and very colourful. I would be interested in reading others in the series to children.

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Island of Secrets - Patricia Wilson blog tour with guest post


'The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'
All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.

It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.



Patricia Wilson has stopped by today and is sharing her 5 top tips for writing. 



FIVE TIPS FOR WRITING FICTION




1/ Never use five words when three will do.



2/ Join a writer’s circle and embrace criticism.



3/ Work from your synopsis, but don’t be afraid to deviate.



4/ Write the story first, fill in details like the location descriptions later.



5/ Keep notes such as dates/places of birth, name spellings, for all your characters.



6/ Do a thorough check for repeated words.



7/ Use a good editor before submitting to agents.



8/ Don’t turn writing into a chore. Find your most productive time to write.



9/ Don’t be disheartened by rejection slips. Keep working to improve the ms.



10/ Learn the craft. Decide on your genre. Become professional in your writing habits.



11/ Write the first draft of your second manuscript, in the same genre as the first, and work on it as you wait for a positive submission response.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

The HousekeeperThe Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide. And Anne’s own disturbing past soon threatens to unhinge everything...

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.



This started off very slowly in fact so slowly that I almost didn't want to bother to carry on. It only really picked up pace by 69 and the start of chapter 7. I must admit from then on in I only skim read this as it was littered with (in my opinion) unnecessary descriptive passages and not enough action.

The novel is built around the main character Anne Morgan a chef who works in a restaurant owned by her handsome boyfriend Anton. All appears to be wonderful in her world until her boyfriend leaves her for someone else and she ends up becoming a housekeeper for a high profile couple the wife of which Anna has been obsessing about and following her blog for sometime. OK this gets my interest, could she be a bunny boiler, so I plough on.

I have to say at this point I was beginning to think the novel might have picked up a bit but really this lacked enough pace to keep the reader going. The book promised secrets that she learns about the family but really they are so lame especially in today's age that there just wasn't anything to hook the reader. This is not a fast paced thriller or a slow burner that develops into an explosion it was, for me a damp squib.

I couldn't connect with the characters who seemed to be one dimensional lacking warmth or realism. I found the story lack lustre really and although it had a couple of interesting developments (couldn't really call them twists) it just wasn't enough to make me want to continue reading.

Overall it was well written but to bill this novel as a psychological thriller and a page turner is a long way off the mark, it is really a contemporary novel and if it had been billed as such then it could be reviewed as that instead of which to review it as a psychological thriller it can't make the grade. It wastes a lot of time with unnecessary detail and lacks sufficient pace to keep the reader engaged.

It takes a long time, effort and personal pain to write a novel and I am sorry Suellen that my review is not the best but I think it's a case of mistakenly putting this into the wrong genre raising expectations in the first instance and then lacking in substance in the second.

There is no suspense or shocking reveals in this book it is just an average contemporary novel that I would rate as a 3 star.

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

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without a TraceGone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one ever disappears completely...

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.

But that's not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.



Good start to this novel, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to read more. Imagine coming home one day and finding your live in boyfriend has just disappeared completely leaving nothing behind to ever suggest he was there at all. All personal possessions gone, photographs gone every trace of this person has disappeared surely you'd want to find out more? Well I suppose I'd started to make assumptions before I'd read very far into this novel so I think it's better not to have any preconceived ideas but just to read it. If you do that I think that this is a good psychological thriller because you'll get the full impact of the twist at the end. Because I have read a lot of this genre I did guess where it was going although the twist at the end was cleaver and somewhat unexpected.

I did think that the ending was a bit rushed but it was executed in such a way as to not disjoint the novel so acceptable. I was disappointed in the main character Hannah who I didn't really warm to. I suppose once you understand the twist at the end this does make her 'personality' fall into place but not really warming to the central character does make it a more difficult read. Having said this, the plot, the pace and the overall execution of the novel were well done and I was not bored charging along through the book in two sittings. I think the thing to remember is that we are 'hearing' this through the main characters dialogue and emotions and being obsessed with finding Matt her boyfriend she does become irrational at times which does skew what is real and what is imaginary as she progresses along a path of self destruction.

It was a good twisty psychological thriller and a satisfactory read, I would definitely read more from this author and would give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for goodreads and Amazon.

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

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

You're so clumsy Charley by Jane Binion blog tour





You're So Clumsy Charley written by Jane Binion & illustrated by Colin Shelbourn throws us into the wonderful world of Charley —who is dyspraxic— and always seeming to get into trouble by accident. Fed up of school because he feels different from the rest of the children it isn’t until he meets his Auntie Bella that everything changes…

Purchase on Amazon UK | Amazon.com

My review:


As a teacher I thought it was very helpful to have the definitions of different special educational needs at the beginning of the book. I also think this would be useful to parents to identify different difficulties some children have as it helps for understanding.

The story is really easy to follow and understand, the sentences are short but tell Charley's story. I also really liked how the illustrations began black and white and as we went through the story and Charley became more comfortable the colours came out.

This is about one little boy who begins to accept his flaws and others around him also understanding him. It also highlights that no matter whatever your needs are or however 'different' you feel, you can be successful.

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




About Your Stories Matter:
Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk. 


For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books


Monday, 15 May 2017

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

The Last Piece of My HeartThe Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture ... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change.




I love Paige Toon books and I always look forward to that time of year when she will be releasing another one. This was no exception.

This story follows Bridget, a travel journalist, who has written a small amount in the past but wants to make the move tom becoming a full time writer. She is struggling to get anything major published so is writing a relationship blog, when she gets offered the opportunity to ghostwrite for Nicki, who tragically died suddenly after writing her first book and wasn't able to finish the sequel, she is unsure at first (she is not sure this will be the best way of her getting into writing) but with a little encouragement agrees to the job.

Bridget is determined to continue with her blog, to find her ex boyfriends to ask for the piece of her heart back in order for her to commit fully and be able to move on from them. This has taken her over the world so far and she has a few other to visit in the U.K. Being Nicki's ghostwriter takes her to Cornwall and working in the house with the recently widowed Charlie and his young daughter April.

Bridget is still with her partner Elliot that she reconnected with when in Australia searching for long lost ex's, this a long distance relationship but she is sure that once she has got all the pieces of her heart back again she can begin a new live with him.

This story is predictable but it is lovely and has so much emotion in it. I really was captured from the beginning and felt I had a connection with the characters. I loved all the settings in the book and most of the characters, I wasn't too fond of Kate or Valerie. If you love Paige Toon you will love this addition to her novels, this is going to be one that I recommend this summer to everyone. It truly is a wonderful read, one that has become a firm favourite on my bookshelf. Well done Paige, you have done it again!

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

Friday, 12 May 2017

Catch me if you Cannes - Lisa Dickenson blog tour

 
Catch Me if You Cannes: The Complete Novel by [Dickenson, Lisa]Catch me if you Cannes - Lisa Dickenson

WARNING: reading Catch Me If You Cannes may result in embarrassing outbursts of belly-aching laughter on public transport. Romantic, funny and full of Cannes Film Festival magic, it's perfect for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Paige Toon and Mhairi McFarlane.

Jess has decided it's time to get out of her comfort zone and live a little. So when her best friend Bryony, a journalist on a gossip magazine, is sent to cover the Cannes Film Festival, Jess decides to seize the day and go along for the ride. Two weeks of sun, glamour and exclusive entry into celeb-filled parties is just the kind of adventure Jess needs.

Reality soon bites though when Jess and Bryony find they're staying in a dingy hotel far away from all the action and Bryony's expenses budget barely covers a glass of local wine. Undeterred, the two women are determined to live like the elite and enjoy one fancy night out to begin their holiday. So what if they have to tell a few white lies along the way? It's just this once. No harm done . . . right?

Full of hilarious one-liners, sparkling blue seas and plenty of romantic moments, Catch Me If You Cannes is the story of two friends, a few white lies and one very sticky situation . . .



I originally reviewed this book when it came out in a four part series. Below are my thoughts on each part.



Part 1: 

I have been lucky enough to meet Lisa in person twice and have read her previous novels. When I was offered the opportunity to read and review her new series 'Catch me if you Cannes' I jumped at the chance. I knew if it was going to be any like her previous books I was in for a treat.


Bryony is a journalist for Seleb magazine and she is being sent to Cannes film festival. Jess her best friend is bored and fed up and ends up going along for the ride. Listening to the two girls conversations is hilarious, they are also sometimes heart felt moments, which I feel is slightly different for Dickenson, I am used to her writing very funny stories, which are light hearted and fun. While this story has begun in the same way, we also see a softer side to her writing and there are times when I really felt for Bryony and Jess. It is more emotional. I really enjoyed this part of Dickenson's writing, but also was pleased that the story is still fun.


Bryony and Jess are really likable characters and you feel for them, the fact that they are in a dingy hotel away from the main action. I also felt sorry for Bryony, it felt like she was on a wild goose chase, sent by her boss!


I really loved the scene with Jess and Leo buying waffles, however I was shouting at the pages, 'Number! Give him your number!!'


My favourite part of the story so far is when the girls go to a posh restaurant for dinner, being told there is no room for them and the strangers taking them under their wing. This was a very funny scene and littered with the few odd white lies, which I am sure are going to come and bite them on the bum in the future!


So far I am really loving this story and I urge everyone to grab a copy. This is perfect for the summer season and either getting you ready for your holiday or while you are there.

Part 2:


After the first part of Catch me if you Cannes I knew I had to continue reading. For the story just to end on a cliff hanger was torture - Well done Lisa you had me hooked!

This part just like the first is lough out loud funny. There are some brilliant one liners and the pace of the story is perfect. I have really started to get a good sense of the characters and find them endearing and genuine.

Jess and Bryony are still loving Cannes, getting out of the situation they were in at the hotel, (Can't say too much as if you haven't read the first I don't want it spoilt for you!) was one of the funniest things I have read in ages! I particularly loved what followed with the glasses and how Jess had to go shopping for some the next day, still being blind as a bat and broke! Shopping in designer shops when broke is a killer!

During this part of Catch me if you Cannes, we get to find out more about Leo and Harvey, I am really beginning to love these two, I agree that there is something suspicious with the two of them but I can't just put my finger on it! I really enjoyed reading about their trip to Monaco, from visiting myself last year I felt I had been transported back there and was with the four of them in the casino and having a slap up lunch. I also remember the palace...Anyone who has been there will understand what a trek it is to get to, up that massive hill!!! Unfortunately when I visited I was not lucky enough to win any money in the casino!

The book is just getting better and better in my opinion and I cannot wait to continue reading it, especially with the bombshell that has just been dropped! Lisa what are you doing to us???

This is a must read this summer, you will love the characters and love the story line, anyway I'm off now to continue this wonderful series.

Part 3:

Lisa has done it again, another part and another cliff hanger!!!

This particular part of the story has felt more serious to me, we really start to get deep into backgrounds of the characters, although we still don't know exactly what is going on with Leo and Harvey we know something is definitely up. I have everything crossed that I find out exactly what in the final part. I am sure I will!

Jess and Bryony have been in Cannes a week now and things are beginning to hot up, Bryony has finally had an interview with a celeb for the magazine and she is desperately trying to keep her job. With a story like this there is every possibility she will be keeping it. The only issue is the celeb thinks they are staying at a very expensive hotel, after some negotiating with the hotel Bryony manages to secure it for a few hours.

Jess gets an unexpected visit, which almost blows her cover and Leos and Jess takes matters into her own hands. There is so much drama going on in this part of the story it is insane, the pace has picked up and now I am dying to find out what is going to be happening in the final part.

Again I don't want to give much away so I apologise if my review for this part is a little vague and short but I really don't want to spoil it for you. Just go out and grab yourself this book, you won't be disappointed!

Part 4:

Unfortunately the Catch me if you Cannes series has ended and what a great final part.

I felt that in this part I really got to know Leo and Jess, Bryony also got her story wrapped up and I loved every minute of it.

Finally I got to find out exactly what was going on, what was so secretive with Leo and Harvey. Jess' parents added a little to the mix too which I liked.

It is ever so hard to write a review for this part as I don't want to give it away being the ending of a fabulous series! All I can say is that it was just perfect and if you haven't read the series why not?

I think this is a perfect series for the summer, I really bought into the story and felt I was in Cannes with the characters. I loved the ending and thought it couldn't have ended better. Although maybe I would have liked to have known the outcome from Bryony...

Anyway you just need to go and make sure you read this, this summer.

This is an amazing book or series, depending on how you have read it. It is perfect for getting into the summer season and looking forward to the longer days and evenings. 

Every time I read a book by Lisa I am left wanting more, she has everything you could possibly want in a book. If you have not read any of hers I would recommend this one. All my parts I gave 5* to and overall this was an amazing 5* book. 

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review and I cannot wait to read more of Lisa's books.