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. 


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 |

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 

For more information please visit: 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. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The adventures of the owl and the pussycat by Carol Rumble


The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea, in a box on the living room floor. They sailed away for a year and a day and these are the things that they saw... Join two curious children on a quirky adventure, loosely based on the classic Edward Lear poem, The Owl and the Pussycat



This is a great book for younger children, we go on a journey with the owl and the pussycat. This is explored through verse accompanied with beautiful illustrations. This is a story that has been adapted from the original version but should be one everyone shares with their child.

This is a book I would recommend to others to share with their children as they will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

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

Information about the Book

Title: The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat

Author: Coral Rumble

Illustrator: Charlotte Cooke

Release Date: 4th April 2017

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Wacky Bee Books

Format: Paperback 

Goodreads Link:
 Amazon Link:

Author Information

I have worked as a poet and performer for many years and I’m proud to have my work featured in Favourite Poets (Hodder). I have three published poetry collections of my own and have contributed to more than 150 anthologies. I am also one of the writers of the popular Cbeebies programmes ‘Poetry Pie’ and ‘The Rhyme Rocket’. I have given workshops in some fairly unusual venues as well…the grandest of which being Buckingham Palace!


Monday, 8 May 2017

The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

The Apple OrchardThe Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there's a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways . . .

The Apple Orchard is a truly feel-good short story about friendship and kindness. It's the perfect introduction to Veronica Henry and includes an extract of her upcoming novel The Forever House.

When I downloaded this I am not sure what I was expecting, although reading other Henry novels I thought it would be chick lity and a lovely read. Don't get me wrong this was a lovely read, just not what I was expecting.

This is a very short story, most of it is a sample of her new book which I believe follows on from this. I found this story very moving and it did bring me to tears, I did enjoy the story more than I thought I would, however I think it was almost too short and that the characters were wasted. I would like to have learnt more about Joe and perhaps read about more of his previous life and how he ended up living where he was, perhaps the relationships he had in more detail.

Although these were addressed I would have liked that to have been a full length novel as I really felt connected to him and Digby.

This is a nice short story and worth a read if it is free. I would suggest this is too short to justify purchasing it, however this may encourage you to pre order/buy Henry's new novel. Overall I would give this 3.5*

Friday, 5 May 2017

Dreaming of Venice by T A Williams blog tour with guest post


Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice.

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?

Information about the Book

Title: Dreaming of Venice

Author: T. A. Williams

Release Date: 24th April 2017

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Canelo

Format: Ebook 
Goodreads Link: 
Amazon Link:

Author Info:

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Website: Twitter: Facebook:

Guest Post:
Trevor (T.A.) Williams talks about why writing is so important to him.

Let’s start with a definition. What is a writer? At first glance, it’s pretty straightforward; a writer is somebody who writes things. For the sake of this post, we’ll ignore the clever people who write advertising slogans, poets, songwriters, journalists and whoever took the time and trouble to write that collection of smutty limericks on the wall of the toilet in the old pub I used to frequent. What we are talking about here are people who write books. I’ve been writing books since I was 14 and, seeing as I’ve just turned 68, that’s a hell of a long time. But I’ve only been an author since 2013. Know the difference? The received wisdom here in the world of those of us who write books is that you only become an author when your first book gets published.

So, although I spent fifty years writing the best part of a million unpublished words, the fact that none of my work got published until 2013 made me a second class citizen in the world of books, if I had only known it. It was only when my first book, “Dirty Minds” was read by an editor at Carina UK (now part of Harper Collins) and she offered me my first publishing contract that I suddenly became an author. That was, by the way, an amazing, life-changing day for me and I will always be immensely grateful to the lovely Clio Cornish for taking a chance on an old boy like me.

Anyway, what’s in a name? Being called an author or a writer is all the same to me. The fact is, I’ve always written as much for myself as for anybody else. Although I spent many a long hour composing begging letters to literary agents and publishers without success, it was the act of writing my books that worked for me. I had a pretty full-on day job for many years and for me, writing has always been a form of relaxation. I love losing myself in a world of my own invention, being able to choose what happens to the characters, where it all happens and even what they have for dinner. In this way, I can transform a cold winter evening into a sunny day on a sandy beach, and the mug of lukewarm tea beside me into a glass of vintage champagne.

It’s a great way of reminiscing about the past, remembering places and events buried in the mists of time. I have been fortunate in my life to have travelled a lot and to have met a host of interesting, funny and sometimes downright bonkers people. I saw a T-shirt recently which read, I’m an author. Be nice to me or I’ll put you in one of my books. I find myself doing it all the time. Oh so often, events I had forgotten or people who had retreated to the very back of my mind emerge from the shadows and

enter my books. As I write, I’m thinking about them and remembering the times we spent together.

My books are definitely Happy Ever After. That means, I want to feel happy with the ending myself. And as for the reader, the last thing I want is for somebody to get to the end of one of my books, reach for a bottle of vodka and a razor blade and end it all. What I want is for the reader to reach the last line with what one reviewer has described as “a silly smile on my face” and then head straight back to Amazon to buy another one. Apart from hopefully spreading a bit of happiness in an increasingly humourless world, it also makes sound business sense.

So, if you read any of my books, bear in mind that I have really, truly enjoyed writing them. If you read them and enjoy them, then that’s a real bonus for me.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Lesser Spotted AnimalsLesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bison are banned and tigers are taboo! Say goodbye to the gnu, cheerio to the cheetah and poo poo to the panda. The world of Lesser Spotted Animals starts HERE! Discover the brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know anything about - from the numbat to the zorilla and everything in between. Martin Brown's wonderfully funny and fact-tastic writing, teamed with his fabulous illustrations and tummy-tickling jokes is a winning combination.

This is a brilliant book full of animals that you rarely see in other children's books. It is non - fiction so children are learning about these more unusual animals, these facts are told in interesting and fun ways to engage the reader and want them to learn more about them.

I really enjoyed reading this book as an adult, however children equally enjoyed it, this is one that hooked in the boys too. They can be reluctant readers at time but this really did engage them and they were interested in finding new facts and information about them.

The illustrations are great, they are fun but also can bring discussions when sharing it with a group. I would highly recommend this book, it is really interesting and enjoyable.

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

Monday, 1 May 2017

Paris in Bloom by Georgianna Lane

Paris in BloomParis in Bloom by Georgianna Lane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paris—City of Love, City of Light, City of Flowers. From elegant floral boutiques to lively flower markets to glorious blooming trees and expansive public gardens, flowers are the essential ingredient to the lush sensory bouquet that is Parisian life. With beautiful photography, Paris in Bloom transports readers on a stunning floral tour of the city, and provides recommendations to the best flower markets and a detailed guide to spring blooms. Timeless in content, Paris in Bloom is a book for Paris lovers to savor again and again, one to keep on the nightstand to conjure fond memories of their first visit and inspire dreams of the next.

This is an absolutely stunning coffee table book. It is clear the author has a passion for the city and enjoys photographing it.

I love how some of the photographs are obvious choices of Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, however there are also some hidden treasures in the book which is a joy to see. This really makes you want to jump on the next plane to Paris.

This is a beautiful book to return to time and time again, it has become a firm favourite on my coffee table, which has sparked conversation from guests, who love it as much as I do.

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

Friday, 28 April 2017

Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Real Live Boyfriends (Ruby Oliver #4)Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren't Complicated, I Wouldn't Be Ruby Oliver

From E. Lockhart, author of the best-seller We Were Liars, and the highly-acclaimed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, comes this hilarious and heart-warming series.

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
* her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos
* her mother's got a piglet head in the refrigerator
* Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar
* Gideon shows up shirtless
* and the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks? Will she ever understand boys? Will she ever stop making lists? (No to that last one.) Ruby has lost most of her friends. She's lost her true love, more than once. She's lost her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she's never lost her sense of humour.

The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

This is the final book in the Ruby series and wow what an ending, over the course of the 3 books we have followed Ruby through her teen years and learning about herself and others, there have been laughter and tears at times but she has always come through in the end. Reading these books we as readers have been on a journey with Ruby and we have grown up with her.

Everyone will have been able to relate to Ruby, she is your typical teenage girl who has similarities with all of us. Ruby has to deal with real life situations and some of which we may think now looking back are silly and not worth worrying about, to your teenage self you will remember how it felt like the end of the world. This makes her really easy to relate to.

These books are so easy to read, you must make sure you read the others in the series in order to really get the full enjoyment of this book, remember it is part of a series and shouldn't be read as a stand alone.

I don't really want to say much about this due to it being the last in the series as I don't want to spoil it. All I would say is that I think this is the perfect ending for the series and I am a little sad to see the Ruby Oliver series over. This would be a great series for any teenage girl to read, I am sure they will enjoy it as much as I have.

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

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Naturalista: Recipes for a healthier, happier life by Xochi Balfour

The Naturalista: Recipes for a healthier, happier lifeThe Naturalista: Recipes for a healthier, happier life by Xochi Balfour
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Xochi Balfour changed her life from her little London kitchen and, as The Naturalista, has been blogging about her experience of balancing and simplifing her life in harmony with the natural world. Without recourse to expensive ingredients, all-consuming cleanses or dramatic diets, Xochi has taken the principles of naturopathy and created a way of life, from a gentler way of eating to simple beauty recipes as well as bringing relaxation and mindfulness into your everyday routine.

Her food is gluten- and dairy-free and predominantly plant based, but straightforward and delicious, her skincare recipes can also be made from kitchen ingredients and her techniques for everyday mindfulness can be fitted into the busiest of lives. Her recipes include power balls and energy bars, raw chocolate, sea salt and pistachio fudge, cornershop turmeric and coconut dahl and beetroot falafel as well as a gluten-free carrot and flax bread. For your body, there is a rosewater facial spray, passionfruit and papaya face mask and lavender and shea butter body lotion, while for your home, Xochi will show you the benefits of barefoot earthing and how to make your own incense.

This is truly a bright and beautiful guide to natural living in the modern age.

I thought this would be great for healthy recipes and it does have these in, along with beautiful photography. This book looks more at changing your lifestyle rather than just cooking one or two healthy recipes, which is great if you are looking for that kind of book.

The recipes are easy to follow and are clear.

I would recommend this for anyone looking at changing their lifestyle to make healthier choices.

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

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Woman who met her match by Fiona Gibson Guest Post

The Woman Who Met Her Match: A funny romantic comedy that will make you laugh out loud!

The Woman who met her match by Fiona Gibson
What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

A wonderfully funny novel, perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Joanna Bolouri and Milly Johnson.

Fiona has stopped by with her make up must haves. Here they are!


My make-up bag is a precious thing. If I mislay it, the accompanying panic is akin to losing my purse, phone or keys - or having one of those dreams when you’re, say, in the baked goods aisle in Sainsbury’s and suddenly realise you are naked.

Most women I know are the same. It’s taken us years to squirrel out our favourites, and to replace it all would be nightmare in terms of time, effort and cash. When I was younger, I hopped from brand to brand, whereas now - although I’m not averse to trying something new - I’m somewhat more faithful to my favourites. Here’s what’s nestling in my make-up bag right now.

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue BB cream - recommended by Misha McCullagh, a BM consultant who gave me lots of helpful advice when I was writing my new novel, The Woman Who Met Her Match (my main character, Lorrie, works on a beauty counter in a posh department store and I needed the inside info on what that’s like). I can’t bear a caked, claggy feeling on my skin, and haven’t worn actual foundation for years. This BB cream is sheer and light and gives just enough coverage to smooth out the wear and tear.

Bare Minerals Smoothing Face foundation brush. Brush application, as demonstrated to me by Misha, was a revelation - for my entire life I’ve just bunged on my base with my fingers. But using a brush like this, in small circular motions, gives a more even coverage and a really brilliant, professional result. I’m a total covert.

Benefit ‘That Gal’ Brightening Face Primer. Another counter recommendation (I really am a beauty salesperson’s dream. ‘Here I am! Have my money, people!’). If I’ve been working mad hours and lack sleep and fresh air, then my skin can start to look ashen. This magical stuff perks it up. Often, I put a blob on my hand, with a blob of the aforementioned BB cream too, blend them with a brush and then apply - so it’s a primer and BB in one. The effect is really light and brightening.

Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder. Yep, powder can be viewed as a bit ‘nana’s make-up bag’ but I’ve sworn by this for decades, and always have that trusty green compact in my bag. While I’m not fond of an overly powdery look, a light dusting makes me feel ready to face the day.

Chanel Hydrating Lip Color in Rouge Coco. I’m having a ‘red revival’ after two decades of muted lip shades. Weirdly, I assumed I’d passed the cut-off age for a true red, but a counter lady persuaded me otherwise. This formulation glides on, is neither too matte nor too glossy, and lasts for hours as long as it’s applied with a liner. It’s amazingly easy to wear.

Diorshow Proliner - a twist-up liner which is far easier to apply, in my opinion, than the liquid type that comes with a brush. It’s just like drawing with a pen and gives deep, rich colour that lasts for hours. While I feel slightly too old for the liquid flick, this little beauty just works for me.

As for blusher, at the moment I’m using a swanky Chanel one - but only because I had a treaty gift voucher. I could just as happily use a bargainacious brand like Barry M or Boots No. 7. Ditto for pencil lip liners and eye liners - I don’t believe you need to spend a lot. And mascara-wise, I’m currently using Soap & Glory but I’m equally keen on Clinique and Benefit. I’m a bit of a brand-hopper, lashes-wise.

And underneath it all? When it comes to skincare I’m currently wedded to Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser (easily the best cleanser of my life), plus her Superskin Moisturiser and serum (called Concentrate for Night). The ladies at the John Lewis concession in Glasgow are super-helpful and I often come away with a few enticing freebies when I’ve made a purchase. Yes, it’s all a bit spendy, but these products last and last and are a joy to use every day. Isn’t it brilliant to be a woman sometimes?

Fiona’s new novel, The Woman Who Met Her Match, is out now (Avon)

I can't wait to go out and grab a copy, thanks so much Fiona for stopping by!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Ballerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince

Ballerina DreamsBallerina Dreams by Michaela DePrince
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One windy day, a magazine blew down the road. I reached out and caught it. A pretty picture of a woman was on the front cover of the magazine. She wore a short pink dress that stuck out around her in a circle. She looked very happy.

At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since, and after a spell as a principal dancer in New York, now dances for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam.

Beautifully and gently illustrated by Ella Okstad, Ballerina Dreams is the younger-reader edition of Michaela DePrince's highly moving memoir, Hope in a Ballet Shoe.

This is a nicely illustrated book, perfect for anyone who has a dream, however big or small and it identifies that it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from. You ambition and dreams can come true with a bit of determination and faith.

Reading this as an adult I feel gives a totally different opinion of the story and perhaps some of these thoughts and feelings may not be obvious to children. I think this would be an enjoyable book for adults and children alike.

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

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The One Plus OneThe One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One single mum

With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it's hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn't. Because you have to . . .

One chaotic family

Jess's gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she'll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson, can't fight the bullies alone.

Sometimes Jess feels like they're sinking . . .

One handsome stranger

Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it's like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .

One unexpected love story

The One Plus One is a captivating and unconventional romance from Jojo Moyes about two lost souls meeting in the most unlikely circumstances.

What made the experience of listening to The One Plus One the most enjoyable?
I really enjoyed the different character voices throughout the performance, it was also really engaging from the beginning.

What other book might you compare The One Plus One to, and why?
I wouldn't compare it to any others that I have listened to before,

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This was the first from these narrators.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I did want to although being so long I was unable to, I saved this and listened to it on 2 separate plane journeys, this is something I would recommend.

Any additional comments?
I would recommend this to others, this was the first Jojo Moyes book I have read/listened to and really, really enjoyed it. My previous thoughts were that her books were sad and quite depressing. This book was neither of these and I would now not hesitate to pick up another one of her books.

Monday, 17 April 2017

What a Way to Go by Julia Forster

What a Way to GoWhat a Way to Go by Julia Forster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

1988. 12-year-old Harper Richardson's parents are divorced. Her mum got custody of her, the Mini, and five hundred tins of baked beans. Her dad got a mouldering cottage in a Midlands backwater village and default membership of the Lone Rangers single parents' club. Harper got questionable dress sense, a zest for life, two gerbils, and her Chambers dictionary, and the responsibility of fixing her parents' broken hearts. Set against a backdrop of high hairdos and higher interest rates, pop music and puberty, divorce and death, What a Way to Go is a warm, wise and witty tale of one girl tackling the business of growing up while those around her try not to fall apart.

I'd probably equate this as a young adult novel. Told through the eyes of a 12 year old girl called Harper it had a charm and evoked memories of the 1980's well. It takes quite a dysfunctional family unit seen through the eyes of a teenager {Harper) who is quite wise for her years through growing up in the 1980's while she tries to make sense of a world of adults, their problems, heartaches and her often witty unique way of handling life.

It was an amusing read, often sad in places but still managed to maintain a lightness throughout. Not really my kind of read as I said it seems more young adult than adult reading but it was still enjoyable. Worth 3 stars for it's nostalgia and craftsmanship but not the best book I've read this year.

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

Friday, 14 April 2017

War Orphans by Lizzie Lane

War OrphansWar Orphans by Lizzie Lane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed."

Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her.

But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecessary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry, from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon, can they stay together and keep each other safe?

War Orphans is a nice easy read, lots of heart and tugs at the heart strings. A little girl Joanna in the midst of war is a determined little fighter, she is treated badly by her stepmother and finds her salvation in looking after a little puppy who she finds left for dead after someone cruely throws a bag full of puppies into the river to drown. She rescues Harry and is determined to help him survive. The problem is that wartime means that food is hard to come by and having Harry and feeding him is against the law so Joanna hides Harry in an abandoned shed on the allotments.

Joanna grows up during this awful wartime and makes some friends along the way and those lives she crosses have their own hardships to bear.

It was a sweet little book and I suppose it does end how it should but didn't have any surprises for me; a nice distraction read and a little glimpse into this genre but not a great novel. I give this one a 3 star rating.

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

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

One Little MistakeOne Little Mistake by Emma Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she makes a split-second decision that risks everything she holds dear, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . .

Really enjoyed this novel, it was well written and the use of suspense building throughout was what kept the pace from start to finish. Written from two points of view over two different time scales (1992 and 2010), Emma Curtis wove these together with seamless precision. I do read a lot of psychological thrillers and it was therefore not difficult for me to guess the connection but having said that it didn't detract from the story and was an excellent read that kept me awake until the wee small hours just to finish it.

The blurb tells the outline of how one little mistake and shared secrets between her best friend Amber Vicky felt she could trust, and the realisation that you can't really trust anyone sometimes least of all your best friend is the crux of this book. It is so much more than that though, mind games, secrets, insecurities, guilt, fear and hopelessness that once the genie is out of the bottle you can't just put it back and hope that everything will be the same. Vicky quickly learns that actions have consequences and she is powerless to make things right. The seemingly easy friendship between Vicky and Amber turns into a toxic relationship and sets in motion a series of events that spiral out of control. It poses the question how well we know our friends and whether we can trust our most intimate of secrets with them in the knowledge they might use them against us. Powerfully written, great character crafting and suspense building, a thoroughly enjoyable read and deserving 4 stars.

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

Monday, 10 April 2017

Girl Up by Laura Bates

Girl UpGirl Up by Laura Bates
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

They told you you need to be thin and beautiful.

They told you to wear longer skirts, avoid going out late at night and move in groups - never accept drinks from a stranger, and wear shoes you can run in more easily than heels.

They told you to wear just enough make-up to look presentable but not enough to be a slut; to dress to flatter your apple, pear, hourglass figure, but not to be too tarty.

They warned you that if you try to be strong, or take control, you'll be shrill, bossy, a ballbreaker. Of course it's fine for the boys, but you should know your place.

They told you 'that's not for girls' - 'take it as a compliment' - 'don't rock the boat' - 'that'll go straight to your hips'.

They told you 'beauty is on the inside', but you knew they didn't really mean it.

Well I'm here to tell you something different.

Hilarious, jaunty and bold, GIRL UP exposes the truth about the pressures surrounding body image, the false representations in media, the complexities of a sex and relationships, the trials of social media and all the other lies they told us.

I am not sure really how to review this book. It sits slightly awkwardly with me. I am not a feminist and never tried to be and so some of the way this book has been written wasn't for me.

This book is very crude in places, just not my cup of tea. Yes there are lots of good points in the book and I feel other women/ younger girls should know and read but perhaps not in this way. If you are a lover of feminism or even writing an essay for university on this subject I would recommend you pick this book up as there are lots of great points in it and the author is honest throughout.

I enjoyed the fact the book was broken up with illustrations and diagrams throughout, I thought this stopped it being too 'heavy'. I can recognise that the author has spent a lot of time researching and clearly has a passion for this area, but I feel that sometimes it has been represented in a crude way. One that doesn't sit kindly with me. This is probably a bit of a controversial review as I can see most people who have read this have really enjoyed it. However, I have always reviewed a book honestly. There were parts of this book that I skimmed as I could see I wasn't enjoying the way it was written. Saying this, it doesn't mean it is an awful book as many will love this and be able to relate to it.

I have given this book 3* for the authors clear interest in this area and the fact she has backed her thoughts and writing up with expert opinions. The grammar and English is also correct throughout which makes a book much more enjoyable to read.

Although this is not a book for me, others have loved it and I would recommend you read it to for your own opinions on it.

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