Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Book Review - Winter Warmers




Winter Warmers by Carole Matthews
Released 26th November
Kindle 192 pages
Publisher Hachette Digital
Rating 4/5
Source Kindle Books

Summary…
Three short stories…

All I Want for Christmas is You
Christmas is around the corner but Maria just can't get into the spirit - will she ever find Mr Right? But when a secret admirer starts leaving her poems and notes, it looks as though her luck is about to change . . .

Cold Turkey
Tara is in love with a man she can't have. She expected to spend Christmas with him but when the big day arrives, she finds herself alone. Sad and upset, Tara just wants to ignore the festive season - and then a chance encounter changes everything.

About Gardening
I love my husband Sam but our relationship isn't what it used to be. Can I find a way to bring us back together?

My thoughts…
I have recently purchased a Samsung Tab and one of the first apps that I downloaded was Kindle. Having borrowed a family members to read Kismetology I feel in the love with the ease of using a tablet to carry around and read whenever and where I wanted, so as an early Christmas present to myself I got a Samsung Tab. Once it was up and running I logged into Amazon and soon starting looking at the extensive list of free books that they had to offer, with it being Christmas this was the perfect choice for my first download.

Winter Warmers is a gift from Carole Matthews with three festive short stories – All I Want for Christmas is You, Cold Turkey and About Gardening. I had never heard of Carole Matthews before reading Winter Warmers but within a few pages I instantly feel in love with her witty writing style and have already started looking at other books that I can buy for this wonderful author.

All I Want for Christmas is You, is a typical fairy-tale, chick lit story of a single girl named Maria with a crush on a gorgeous man, the man asks out her best friend, all the while a secret admirer is showing Maria with little festive gifts each day.

Cold Turkey is a story about Tara, a mistress, her married lover has promised that he will visit her this Christmas, but when she is left alone yet again ad trip to feed the ducks leads to an unlikely meeting. A warm and happy story full of magical moments.

About Gardening is a story about a married couple who’s spark had disappeared until one Christmas they  both realise that they must work together to get it back. This story is one that I think many married couples can relate to and is a story that is playing out around the world. Another beautiful and heart-warming story sowing promise in a deflated relationship.

Overall I loved each of the stories and am so excited to read more from Carole Matthews, she now has one more fan to add to, what I am sure, is a growing list. This is a great read to get you in the festive spirit. It is still available to download for free from Kindle Books see my reading list on the right and follow the links.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Book Review - One Hundred Names


One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
Released 11th October 2012
Hardback 336 pages
Published HarperCollins
Rating 5/5
Source Sent a copy by HaperCollins.

Summary…
Everyone has a story to tell…

Journalist Kitty Logan’s career has been destroyed by scandal, and she now faces losing the woman who guided her and taught her everything she knew. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her – what is the one story she always wanted to write?

The answer lies in a file buried in Constance’s office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, no explanation, nothing else to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery.

But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late.

With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life – to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty has to not only track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people’s stories, she uncovers Constance’s – and starts to understand her own…


My thoughts…

I am a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern and have been ever since PS I Love You. Everytime I see a new book coming out I clear my schedule and prepare to immerse myself into Cecelia’s world. One Hundred Names, I am pleased to say, did not disappoint me at all.

One Hundred Names is typically Cecelia, a beautifully charming, witty, uplifting, and enchanting story full of twists and turns and wonderfully diverse characters. The story takes you on a journey with Kitty Logan, a shamed journalist that has been left with no job, no credibility and no boyfriend. To top it all off, the one person who believed in her and her best friend and mentor passes away from Cancer leaving her feeling like she has no one to turn to.

One of Kitty’s last conversations with Constance was about a story that she never got to write, so when she passes Kitty takes it upon herself to do what Constance couldn’t. With a list on 100 names and no clue who they are, how to find them or what their stories are – Kitty begins her life changing journey She not only discovers the meaning of Constance’s final story, but she also discovers who she really is and finds her place in life.

Every book that Cecelia writes is almost a fairy tale story for adults, she somehow manages to sweep her readers off their feet and whisk them away into her magical little land. One Hundred Names does just this as the story takes to you places to meet people that are so unique and special but so real at the same time.

This is a must read book that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you want to escape then this is the book for you.

Book Review - Kismetology




Kismetology by Jaimie Admans
Released 14th September 2012
Kindle edition 
Self-Published
Rating 4/5
Source Sent a copy by Jaimie.

Summary…
Finding the perfect man isn't easy. Especially when it's for your mother... 

Mothers. Can't live with them, can't live without them, can't live three doors down the road without them interfering in every aspect of your life.


Mackenzie Atkinson's mother has meddled in her love life once too often and something has to be done. Mackenzie decides to turn the tables and find love for her lonely mother.  

Her lonely and very fussy mother. 

Surely finding an older gentleman looking for love won't be that hard, right?
Wrong. 
If you've ever thought that boys grow up, here's the problem: They don't. Ever.
And Mackenzie is about to learn that the hard way.


Faced with a useless boyfriend, dressed up dogs, men who wear welly boots on dates, men who shouldn't be allowed out in public, and men who make reptiles seem like attractive company - will she ever find the perfect man for her neurotic mother?

My thoughts…
Since I began blogging Jaimie has been a constant support and friend to me, so what she emailed to ask if I could review her book I was thrilled. Knowing Jaimie already, I knew she has very similar taste in books to me; therefore I knew I was getting a book that would suit me.

Kismetology has a lovely cover, and I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I saw this on a shelf I would definitely pick it up. The book fits neatly into the ‘Chick Lit’ genre and would appeal to anyone who is a fan of these types of stories. The title Kismetology didn’t mean anything to me at the beginning, I spent the first few days telling people I was reading kiss-me-tology! After reading the book I now know that it is to do with Kismet, the Arabic word for fate or destiny. Knowing this, the title suits this book to perfection.

As a reader you are taken on a journey from the view point of a 20-something who is fed up with her mother, Eleanor, interfering in her life and her house, much to the annoyance of her boyfriend Dan. Mackenzie Atkinson therefore takes it upon herself to find love for her mother so that she can get her life back. Her approach – to date the men, make sure they are suitable and then set them up on a date.

Mackenzie’s journey takes you from her being a happy nail technician who just wants her mother to watch Coronation Street at her own house, to her realising that there is more to life and that the love she thought she had for Dan isn’t what she thought it was.

Jaimie has a wonderful way or writing- she is witty, imaginative and manages to create characters that you didn’t think ever existed but at the same time making you believe that these strange men are out there somewhere.  Knowing how much Jaimie likes her “research” I could just imagine her sitting in a town hall somewhere speed dating 50-year-old men to provide material for her book.


If I was to criticise one little thing with this book, and I hope Jaimie doesn’t take offense to this because I really did enjoy the book, I would just say that in a few places I felt the story was a little repetitive. When Mackenzie was arguing with Dan, I felt that the argument went round and round with the same statements repeat – I suppose how a real argument is! Other than that I think that Kismetology is a brilliant debut novel from an author that I am very excited to see what else has in for us.

If you are a Chick Lit fan then I would definitely recommend this fantastic, easy read to you.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

November...what a month!

November was supposed to be the month I wrote my first novel. Instead it turned out to be one of the worst months of my life! The first couple of days started well with the writing, then it was a little shaky, before I picked up again on the second week, but after that it all went to pot!

I knew after the second week that I wasn't going to meet the 30th November deadline for my book, but I fully intended to give it a damn good go. I knew I would fall behind in the third week due to a mini-break with my other half in Amsterdam, but I planned to play catch up once I returned. But, as with all plans, they never work out as you think they will.

On the day of our return from Amsterdam, I discovered that my sister and mum were going through some personal issues, which I can't really go into at this time, this mean't that my ten-month-old nephew was to live with me for a while. Having no children of my own and Mason being the only child I have ever really been around it has been an incredibly difficult two weeks, with little sleep, toys everywhere, lots of sick and dirty nappies and one very poorly little baby. Thankful this nightmare is coming to a close and he will soon be back with his Mummy, but for now he is staying with his Nanny and Popsy.

In the middle of last week my other half, Dean, found out that someone very close to him had been diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. This was a massive blow to both of us, but we are hoping that the outcome will be positive. 

During all of this I have had to play piggy in the middle and try and remain positive for everyone and with one thing sorted, I feel emotionally drained. Things at home are starting to get back to normal and my dogs are pleased that there is no snotty baby tugging at their ears! With normality resumed, here's to December!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

My first week as a writer...it could have been better!

Last week I blogged about my desire to start writing this month, after much to-ing and fro-ing I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and get on with it. Fortunately I timed it just right as Thursday marked the beginning on National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) so on Wednesday I logged into the site and set myself up for a month or writing and becoming a hermit.

Day One...
I woke up on Thursday morning full of excitement for what they day ahead had to offer. Logging into Twitter and I was overwhelmed with the number of people who were getting involved and suddenly became extremely daunted about the task ahead. Throughout the day I read lots of tweets and visited lots of sites that offered help and advice about the best ways to tackle NaNoWriMo and make the most out of your time. Getting home I felt prepared to face the challenge ahead.
I sat down in the office and began mapping out my book - characters, timeline, events and plot. I then began writing. After a few hours I reached my daily total and felt a lot better about the whole process.

Day Two...
I woke up eager and excited to get writing, I sat thinking off all the possibilities for my story and couldn't wait to get started...But then I realised I was babysitting my ten month old nephew and had to get up and ready to pick him up.
At home with him I sat him down in the office with his toys and tried to start writing. However, he had other ideas and as much as I tried to coax him into sitting still, he was having a far better time crawling around and making a dash for the stairs! I decided to give up for the day.

Day Three, Four & Five
My initial eagerness to get stuck into the writing process kind of... disappeared. Instead it was replaced with a lazy attitude and me lying on the sofa reading, obviously when I wasn't babysitting or working! I had the occassional thought about my book, but soon dismissed it and distracted myself with something else.

Day Six
Today the bug is back! I came into work early and plan on going home, putting the dinner on, sorting the dogs out and hiding away in the office until I have written at least one days writing quota. If I can manage to write a little more, then I will be happy.
I am having a dreadful time at work at the moment and am really desperate to make some career changes in my life and writing is something that I am hugely passionate about and it is time I turned my dreams into reality, as cheesy as that sounds, otherwise I will be stuck in a job that makes me uphappy for the rest of my life!

So here is to the next 24 days! I will make it to the end and I will write 50,000 words!!!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

November already?!

Another month has flown by once again! We have somehow got to November, where does the time go? After a quiet month in September, I seem to have made up for it in October and managed to review a whooping seven books! Granted a few of them where short stories.

Last month I decided that it was time that I sat down and started my own book, so far I haven't made any progress and to be honest haven't really given it much thought. Then I got an email from NaNoWriMo mapping out this years event... it said that on day one you should write 1,667 words and I thought "how hard can that be?" I know I will be eating my words in about a weeks time, but in all honestly that isn't a huge amount to write in one day and I should be able to do it, I just need to give myself a massive kick up the bum and do it! My only problem is that I an enjoying reading books so much, if I do start my own book I will have to stop reading for a little while so I don't distract myself!

Whether I do decide to make a start on my own novel or not, I am setting myself the target of writing a short story this month. I have a couple of days booked off work, so I think this is definitely achievable.

While I continue to ponder over whether to write or not to write I have got a selection of books to review this month...


I have very kindly been sent all of this months books - One Hundred Names and Kismetology are definitely my kind of books whereas Spirit of Angels is something very different to what I usually read so I am very much looking forward to seeing what they all have in store for me.

Remember, if you have a book that you would like me to read and review then please send it on! Always happy to help a new author and lend a hand where I can, I will be asking the same when the time comes :-) 

As always, thanks for reading x

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Short Story Review - From Man to Man


From Man to Man by David Emrys
Released 14th October 2012
PDF 20 pages
Publisher Four Branches Publishing
Rating 4/5
Source Sent a copy by David.

Summary…

‘ I've traded my old enemies for just this one…’ The axe thundered home. ‘I miss the old ones.’

Every man has a past, none more so than Draven Reinhardt. Abandoning his old life to settle down as a villager, he struggles to fit in, let alone hold down a job. When opportunity offers the much needed coin, Draven is torn between a promise and a purpose. 

But, what’s one last job if you've already got blood on your hands?

My thoughts…
From Man to Man is the debut short story from author David Emrys. This was another book that was sent to me via links from Twitter, so I started the book completely blind – with no idea what the book was about and certainly no expectations.

The book title and the cover suggested a Robin Hood themed/type story, fitting into the adult fiction genre, with a view at targeting men. While the book does actually tick all of those boxes, I think women will enjoy the book as equally as men.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Draven, a mysterious man with a past. He lives with his wife and young child, but seems to have a tendency to get into fights with the villagers while trying to run away from his past, until he is set a task that brings his old life in to his new life.

The story is quite fast paced, with a few reflective periods throughout that give you the opportunity to explore Draven’s character a little more. One thing I love about this book is the way that everything is described in intricate detail. People, surroundings, tools and even sounds are described in such a way that you can vividly picture it all in your mind and almost hear the twigs snapping.

At this point I would usually complain about the lack of answers to things that happened within the book, but I know that this is just a taster for the novel, so all is forgiven. David has been very clever and has written a brilliant short story to pull you in to the world of Draven and just when you get into it, he stops and tells you to wait for the novel. I for one will now be patiently waiting to read ‘It Began with Ashes’.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Short Story Review - Suddenly Lost In Words


Suddenly Lost In Words by Ahmed Khan, Gregory Marlow, Tyler Hansen, Connor Thomas Cleary, Lisa Cronkhite, Gary Egan, Sara DeGregoria and Kurt Bachard
Released 11th September 2012
Word Doc 36 pages
Publisher Self published
Rating 5/5
Source Sent a copy by Clare

My thoughts…
Suddenly Lost In Words is a collection of seven short stories from the authors listed above. Each story offers something very different – one offers a story of a rather unpleasant teenager, while another about a girl who feeds people to a Werewolf.

The book fits neatly into the Young Adult Fiction genre. It is full of typical teenage stories, but with a twist. Thanks to Twilight and Teen Wolf, Werewolf’s are very “in” and therefore the short ‘The Werewolf Ate My Homework’ is very topical, but it provides a different twist on a familiar story.

Even though the book is targeted at young adults I loved it, even though I am 25! In some way a lot of people will be able to relate to the stories, if it’s not because you don’t feel like you belong like Scarlett in ‘City Speaker’ or you have suffered in the hands of bullies just like, but not as bad as, Sean in ‘ Friday’s Children’, or you know someone who is just a spoilt as the girl is ‘Grandma Silence’. Whatever your age, you will still remember what it is like to be a teenager so it kind of made me feel nostalgic,

Before being contacted by the group Suddenly Lost In Words on Twitter I hadn't come across any of the authors or the book so I didn't have any expectations, but I am pleased to say that I am thrilled that I had the chance of reading this and would highly recommend this to anyone of any age.

The book is available to buy from Amazon now!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Short Story Review - Stephen C Spencer


I have never really given much thought to short stories, I just dismissed them as stories for people who don't have time to read proper books... Then I became a book reviewer and came across Ellie Darkins on Twitter, she posted a link to a short story that she had written and posted on her blog... from the very beginning I was hooked, everything happened to quickly and then it was over leaving my wanting more.

So I decided to explore more short stories and put a hit out on Twitter. This is where the lovely Stephen Spencer comes in.. He very kindly sent me two of his short stories to read Role Reversal and Window of Opportunity. So here is what I thought...


Window of Opportunity
Released 6th March 2012
PDF 12
Publisher Self Published
Rating 2/5
Source Sent by Stephen

My thoughts…
Window of Opportunity was the first short story that I read by Stephen, it is about Paul Mallory, a journalist who is trying to track down a Russian criminal that tried to kill him.

The story does exactly what it needs to do as a short story and that is to move at a fast pace. For me a thriller works really well as a short story as you get to move the story along so quickly, engaging the reader to read on and want more at the end of it, as well as getting to the point quickly as opposed to dragging it out.

With this being said, as much as I liked the pace in which this story moved, I felt it left out a lot of detail. This is the first book that I have read by Stephen and from the Paul Mallory series, so maybe that is why I didn’t really connect with the book because there are so many before this that would have helped me understand the characters more.

I am not saying that this is a terrible book, but I would recommend maybe readying the Paul Mallory series in order, which is what I should have done!

Role Reversal
Released 9th September 2012
PDF 11
Publisher Self Published
Rating 4/5
Source Sent by Stephen

My thoughts…
Role Reversal was the second short story that I ready by Stephen, from the cover I saw that this was also part of the Paul Mallory series so I wasn't holding out much hope for it. However I am pleased to say that this was completely different to my first experience.

The story revolves around two women who live together and work for the same man as Paul Mallory, they have been invited to mark the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic by going on a cruise of the Titanic route. Both Marie and Fliss are looking forward to the trip, but then Fliss starts to get nightmares. Not remembering what the nightmares are Marie orders her to a hypnotherapy session to get to the bottom of it, with her hunch that it is something to do the Titanic.

As someone who is extremely interested in the Titanic, I love reading, watching documentaries, films and stories about it, and Role Reversal fits in perfectly with one of my interests. For me, this story could be expanded into a novel – exploring the history on both Marie and Fliss’s families and exploring the history of the Titanic.

This isn't really a thriller, like the first, but I still found myself reading at a record speed to get to the end and find out what the outcome would be. If you are looking for something quick to read, then I would definitely recommend this.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Book Review - First, I Love You


First, I Love You by Genevieve Dewey
Released 27th September 2012
Paperback 300 pages

Publisher Smashbox
Rating 5/5

Source Sent a copy by Genevieve.

Summary…
'First, I Love You' is the first novel in the Downey Trilogy exploring the powerful bonds of family, friendship, and love. After having spent most of his life avoiding his father, Omaha Detective Tommy Gates takes an opportunity to work his first big Federal case in Chicago, the same city where his father, retired mobster Mickey Downey now lives. While battling the increasing meddling of his sister Kiki Downey and his co-workers, Tommy struggles with taking the risk of letting his father into his heart when his world-view is everything Tommy stands against. Just as he is beginning to navigate these issues of family, loyalty and trust, his personal and professional lives collide in a way that could threaten them all.

My thoughts…
The title suggests a love story to me, First, I Love You reminded me so much of Cecelia Ahern’s PS I Love You. However, reading about Genevieve’s passion for organised crime, I figured I was in for a very different kind of story in the first instalment of the Downey trilogy.

The book doesn't quite follow the rules of any specific genre – while the main theme is organised crime intertwined is a story of hatred, love and regret, which pleased me greatly. Some may say that you cannot have a story about warring Mafia families, crime and murder with stories of love thrown in, but I think in this instance it really worked.

The story is told from the viewpoint of six main characters: Tommy, Mickey, Mark, Kiki, James and Ginny. Each chapter is told from the view of a different character with each one following on from where the previous have left off. Each character is introduced at a steady pace allowing you to get to know one before another is added into the mix, instead of just throwing them all in at the beginning. For me all of this worked perfectly, as each character plays a highly important role within the story and by constantly changing the narrative, the story is allowed to move at a much faster pace.

The story is completely believable. You have Mickey, a famous gangster who has an affair which results in the birth of his first son, Tommy. Mary loves Mickey dearly but wants the complete family so she does what she believes is the only way to do this and turns to the FBI. Mickey wants nothing more than to be a part of Tommy’s life, but he must do everything possible to keep his two loves safe and that is to let them go. 20 years later and a “retired” Mickey also have Kiki and Joey to keep safe now while Tommy is a Detective working to bring down one of his father’s associates. With so much history, it is no surprise that things don’t go quite to plan.

I am a huge fan of chick lits and crime thrillers and this book brought my two loves together. On one hand you have two new loves beginning, you have an old one rekindled and you have the love between a father and a son – you then have the nitty gritty child sex ring, gangland murder and Mafia feuds.

One thing that Mary says really stuck with my throughout the whole book, “why did no one never know the answer to these things until after the milk had been spilt?” The book poses so many questions, with some being answered and the others leaving you on the biggest cliff-hanger dying to find out how it will all end.

If you are a fan of Harlan Coben that I would definitely recommend First, I Love You. Such a fantastic debut novel from Genevieve Dewey, I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us.

You can buy the book from Amazon now. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Book Review - Sign of the Times


Sign of the Times by Susan Buchanan
Released 16th March 2012
Paperback 373 pages
Publisher Self Published
Rating 3/5
Source Sent a copy by Susan.

Summary...
Twelve people. Twelve star signs. 


Sagittarius - Holly, a travel writer, visits Tuscany to research her next book. Seeking help when her car breaks down, she gets more than assistance when Dario, a vineyard owner, puts temptation in her path. Disappearing without explanation, he proves elusive. Bruised, Holly tries to put it behind her until a chance encounter brings her feelings to the surface again.



Capricorn – Holly’s fiancĂ©, Tom misses her while she is in Italy and turns to an internet chat room for solace. His construction business is under threat, but could foul play be at work?



Gemini - Holly’s sister, Lucy, a serial man-eater finally meets her match, which puts her long-term relationship and career in jeopardy. Cheating she discovers, can have devastating consequences.



Libra - Holly’s uncle Jack, an eminent prosecutor, juggles a difficult teenage son with his high profile career and finds himself lacking. When his son’s school work starts slipping, he decides he needs to take control, but it’s not long before the balls all come tumbling down and Jack finds his family on the wrong side of the law.



One event binds them all…


My thoughts...

I hadn't heard of Susan Buchanan until she contacted me via Twitter asking if she could send me a copy of her book – of course I accepted! I didn't know a whole lot about the book or Susan’s history, so I just got myself stuck into the book with no expectations.

This is a hard review for me to write, I Susan a great deal for her hard work and determination – however I always promised myself that I would review all books honestly and for me this book really didn’t work.

At first, I loved the idea of this story – being told by 12 different people, with different star signs, different personalities and different outlooks on life. It was a new idea, and rather adventurous, but a really interesting idea.

However, in reality I found that there were far too many characters for the story – along with the 12 main characters; you have their family and friends which added far too many complications to it. The first chapter focused on Holly and then it was Tom, followed by Maggie, Jennifer and Ben and then you had Oscar, then Lucy and Carl, then Maria, then Antonia and Jack and finally Czeslawa.

Each of the characters fit together somehow – a bit like in Love Actually. Holly and Tom are engaged, Lucy is Holly’s sister and lives with Carl. Jennifer is friends with Holly, as well as Maggie and is girlfriend to Ben. Antonia is another friend of Holly’s and is married to Jack who is going into business with Oscar. Maria is Holly’s book launched and wedding planner and Czeslawa works for her.

Along with all of these you have various wife’s, ex-wife’s, children, brothers, sisters, husbands, mothers, fathers, neighbours, employees, friends, colleagues, a mistress, hotel owners and her children, and so many others.

Each chapter focuses on one particular character and looks at what is going on in their life at a particular moment. I really liked reading the story from each characters viewpoint and you really got to see this when Maggie and Jennifer went away from the weekend and Jennifer met Ben. You got to see how Jennifer felt for Ben and him for her, plus the outsiders perspective.

Aside from the volume of characters, another aspect of the book that really confused me was the timeline – each new character started at a different point in time and you never really knew where you were with the story. I found the narrative particular confusing when Antoina’s chapter ended with a police officer arriving at her door to discuss her son and with Jack working on a case about an illegal immigrant. Then Jack’s chapter started several months/weeks earlier with him working on a completely different case with Felix booking their family holiday. His did eventually reach the dinner party and I did find out why the police officer was there, but in getting to that it took a lot to figure out exactly where in time you were.

As for the ending, for me there were a lot of loose ends and those that had been tied up were done in a rush. Lucy’s chapter ended with her seemingly in a car accident, in the final chapter the aftermath of this was explained but I felt it was skimmed over. The same with Anotina, Jack and Felix’s situation, the fallout from the police visit was cover over a few sentences. I would have likes to have followed the characters through each of their situations as opposed to briefly touching on it. Yes, it would have made the book longer, but it would have made the story more complete.

I know I sound very negative in this review and I really don’t want to, because aside for the points above, this really is a lovely story. With a view finishing touches or even a second book, the story could be rounded off with all characters getting the ending that they deserve. I think Susan was very adventurous with this story, and maybe she didn't pull it off but, credit where it is due, she did a very good job in trying. As her debut novel, I am looking forward to seeing her develop with her forthcoming projects.

If you are a fan of the film Love Actually, this will definitely appeal to you.




Friday, 12 October 2012

eBooks vs (actual) Books

I recently found out that my parents plan to buy me a Kindle for Christmas. They know that I love reading and am slowly running out of space to store my huge collection of books so thought that this would solve the problem. At first I thought it was a brilliant idea - I wouldn't have to sit at funny angles and squint so I can read in the evenings. But, the more I think about it, the more I am going off the idea. I am currently reading an eBook that an author has sent me and have been using an iPad to read it, and as good as it is I miss the feel of paper! Sales for Kindles and other eBooks are huge, and I really feel like I am missing something! I do understand that the 'invention' of eBooks has allow so many more authors to get their material out their as it doesn't cost anything to publish your novel on Amazon. A friend of mine has spent the last year taking his book to various different publishers and didn't get anything back from them, so he has taken it upon himself to publish it himself through Amazon, and so far it is doing very well. So I thought I'd do a little poll so that I could see what you lovely people think, maybe you can change my mind :-) Leave your votes in the comment box below... Looking forward to seeing what you all think!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Book Review - The Rose Petal Beach



The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
Released 30th August 2012
Paperback 416 pages
Publisher Quercus
Rating 5/5
Source Purchased

Summary...
Every love story has a dangerous twist. Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible - but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into freefall. Backed into a corner and unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But this choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn. Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This stranger carries with her shocking truths that will change the lives of everyone she meets, and will once again force Tamia to make some devastating choices...

My thoughts...
I am a long standing fan of Dorothy Koomson, from The Cupid Effect to My Best Friends Girl to Goodnight Beautiful. Her latest offering, The Rose Petal Beach is in true Dorothy style and did not disappoint one bit.

The story focus’s around Tami, a wife and mother who has a seemingly perfect life – two beautiful children, a stunning home, gorgeous husband, her dream job and a life that she had always dreamed of. Then one day, all that she knows about her life comes crumbling down around her, with dire consequences, where nothing will ever be the same again.

The tale is told from various different angles – Tami, her best friends Mirabella and Beatrix and newcomer Fleur. Mirabella and Beatrix both live in the ‘close’ – Mirabella works with Tami’s husband Scott and Beatrix is like a member of the family and Tami’s oldest friend. And Fleur pops up out of the blue one day, revealing secrets to Tami about one of her best friends, but is it too late to change things?
Tami, like so many of Dorothy’s leading ladies, is a strong, fiery, heroic woman, a true protector to all of those that she loves and someone that I think so many people can relate to. If I were faced with situations like Tami, I would hope that I could be just like her and handle the grief, betrayal and deception with that much dignity.

The Rose Petal Beach does fit into Dorothy’s usual genre of ‘Chick Lit’ but with the fast pace, edge of your seat, page turning, roller coaster that you get from a crime thriller. The chopping and changing from character to character really keeps the story going and left me wanting more after each chapter, I even stayed home on Saturday reading until I had finished the book as I needed to know how it ended!

One thing I love about Dorothy is her ability to create such interesting characters. In this book each of them change, some more dramatically than others, however they are all believable. She develops them over time and in a way that you can believe. Take Scott for example – he starts off as a kid from the wrong sort of background, he grows up and takes a different direction from his family, he is then a loving husband and father who would do anything to make his family happy, he then becomes a career focus, his ego takes over causing his marriage to suffer and the rest you will find out about in the book. Scott goes from one extreme to the other, but I didn’t think at any point that it had been taken too far.

The ending isn’t all happy and jolly, where everyone kisses and makes up, like most chick lit’s, but it is fair to all of the characters. It must have taken a lot of time to decide what to do with each of them, but I think it was fitting and believable.

I cannot recommend this book enough, The Rose Petal Beach is a story that be read by both men and women and I can really see that being made into a TV drama.

I LOVED this book and cannot wait to read more from the lovely Dorothy Koomson.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Book Review – Black Heart Blue




Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
Released 10th May 2012
Paperback 288 pages
Publisher Penguin
Rating 4/5
Source Purchased



Summary...
'They tried to make me go to my sister's funeral today. In the end I'd had to give in ... I'd been walking in her shadow for sixteen years and I liked its cool darkness. It was a good place to hide.'

How would you feel if your twin sister died suddenly? Particularly if she was the beautiful one and you were horribly disfigured.

And how would it feel to be alone now if you and your sister were the only ones to know the truth about what takes place behind closed doors at home?

And what would you do if it was your parents who brought danger and terror into your life? Would you dare reveal how your sister died?

And would you be brave enough to find an escape of your own?

Black Heart Blue is a powerful novel about the domestic horrors that can unfold within a small community - and one girl's quest to stand up for the truth.

My thoughts…
When picking up this book I had never heard of the author let alone the book and simply picked it up a) because I was drawn to the cover and b) there was an offer in my local supermarket of three books for £10 and I needed one more to make up my three. Given that, I began the book with no expectations.

The story revolves around twin sisters, Rebecca and Heph. Rebecca narrates the story from after the death of her siblings, while Heph narrates up until her death, giving the reader the opportunity to get to know both sisters. Heph is the beautiful and popular twin, while Rebecca, who has Treacher Collins Syndrome, is treated like a disfigured outcast and they both have very different outlooks on life. They live with their parents in a small town, their mother a housewife and their father a deeply passionate vicar.

The love that these siblings have for each other is clear throughout and, despite everything, it leaves you feeling uplifted that no matter what they go through, what happens to them and what is done to them, they will always love and support each other. In a book that if filled with themes ranging from sexual abuse, domestic violence, death, mental and physical abuse of children and so much more, it is a credit to the author that she has managed to write a book that gives you a positive feeling at the end, while pushing these themes in your face and forcing you to really think about it all.

I don’t want to go into the story too much as it will spoil it for you. I believe that this book isn’t for the fainthearted and does contain things that can be very hard to read at times, even though it is classed as being in the ‘young fiction’ genre. Yes, I know Twilight and The Hunger Games also fall into this genre and they too are dark and emotional, but Black Heart Blue isn’t a fantasy it is about real life events that could have happened to anyone or could be happening to anyone right now.

With that being said, this is a truly fascinating book and I was gripped from start to finish. If you are looking for a gritty and emotional story then I would highly recommend this book to you.

I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing what else Louisa Reid has in store for us.

Until next time, keep reading x

Monday, 1 October 2012

Book Review - This Charming Man


This Charming Man by Marian Keyes
Released 5th March 2009
Paperback 912 pages
Publisher Penguin
Rating 4/5
Source Borrowed

Summary...

Lola has just found out that her boyfriend - charismatic politician Paddy de Courcy - is getting married. To someone else. Heartbroken, Lola flees the city for a cottage by the sea. But will Lola's retreat prove as idyllic as she hopes?

Journalist Grace wants the inside story on Paddy de Courcy's engagement and thinks Lola holds the key to it. Grace knew Paddy a long time ago. But why can't she forget him?

Grace's sister, Marnie, might have the answer but she also has issues with the past. Her loving loving husband and beautiful daughters are wonderful, but they can't take away memories of her first love: a certain Paddy de Courcy. What will it take for Marnie to be able to move on?

Alicia Thornton is Paddy's wife-to-be. Determined to be the perfect wife, Alicia would do anything for her fiancé. But does she know the real Paddy?

Four very different women. One awfully charming man. And the dark secret that binds them all...

My thoughts...
Marian Keyes is one of best selling female authors and is the person who inspired me to write. I heard her say once "Everyone has it in them to write a least one novel." However, in all these years I had never got around to reading any of her books until a friend let me borrow This Charming Man. 

Given her reputation I expected a classic 'chick lit' story, and I am pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed.

The story focuses around four very different women and their relationships with Paddy de Courcy. Lola, Grace, Marnie and Alicia have all been captured by politician Paddy's charm, only to be tossed aside when he got bored leaving them all scarred and tormented. For each of the women, Marian took on a different writing style, if that is the right way to put it. You could instantly tell which character was currently narrating the story by the way in which it was being written. 

So many different authors tell a story from different character angles, but very few will change the writing style so dramatically. For me, this is a skill that so few have and one that really made this book work.

I will admit, that I did struggle to get into the book at the beginning. I can't quite put my finger on why, it could just have been me, but once I sat down and concentrated I literally couldn't put it down. 

The story has so many twists and turns, that it is impossible to even attempt a guess at how it will end. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that even I had it completely wrong as at one point I likened Paddy to Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades trilogy. With his obvious sex appeal, charming mannerisms and interest in kinky sex, how could you not link them? As the story develops there is more to Paddy than meets the eye and I will guarantee that you will be left shocked, and thats without even mentioning the "trannies"!

If you are looking for a page turning chick lit book, then this is for you. I am so pleased that I have been introduced to Marian Keyes and I cannot wait to read more of her books, from what I can see, I have missed a lot.

Until next time, keep reading x



Sunday, 30 September 2012

October Reading List

I have been a little bit slack with my reviews in recent weeks, no excuse other than being lazy! I'm therefore giving myself a massive kick up the bum to get a move on and do more blogs and, dare I say it, start work on my own book.

Maybe I am getting a little bit ahead of myself by trying to write a novel, maybe I will start with a few short stories. I haven't really read many in the past, so if anyone has any recommendations please pass them on.

Back to the month...

I am setting myself a target to read three books this month which are
Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson
First, I Love You by Genevieve Dewey
Sign of The Times by Susan Buchanan





If you have a book that you would like me to review, please feel free to send it to me. As always I will review it honestly.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Do books change the way we live?

You hear and read all the time about how television, films, music and video games affect people and they way in which they think and live, but I have never heard that say about books. Why? Book's have just as much power, if not more, over people, so why do we never discourage people from reading a book because it will influence them in some way?

The reason I ask, is because recently a very close friend of mine changed her whole life after reading a book. The book in question... Fifty Shades of Grey. She had her own home, a comfortable job, in a stable relationship and was planning her wedding. She thought her fiance was everything that she wanted in a man and was preparing to settle down with him and spend the rest of their lives together.

Fifty Shades of Grey changed all of that.

Ok, well maybe it wasn't 100 per cent the books fault. But after reading the book, seeds where planted and she found herself with the realisation that she wanted more from life, wanted to travel, move, try a new career and more importantly she wanted to be with a man who wanted to do all of those things with her and more.

The reality was that he didn't want to change any aspect of there lives and he was happy being who he is. Refusing to compromise, she now finds herself as a newly single woman with a stack of CV's ready to send down to London.

Like millions of women around the world she wants to find her Mr Grey. Her's is a  man who will treat her the way that she wants to be treated, will help fulfill her adventurous side and support her in reaching for her dreams.

As a friend, I will support her with all of the decisions that she makes, but deep down I know that Mr Grey doesn't really exist. Just like men and romance in films, the reality is always very different. But, hey, that's life!

I am sure there are women all around the world who have changed there lives after reading a book, but this was my first hand experience that I wanted to share. For me, this story proves how insanely powerful books can be, which is why I love them.

Now back to reading A Charming Man x

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Book Review - Caught


Caught by Harlan Coben
Released 17th February 2011
Paperback 400 pages
Rating 4/5
Source Purchased

Summary
Seventeen-year-old Haley McWaid never gave her parents a moment's worry. Until one morning her mother wakes to find that Haley didn't come home the night before. Three months quickly pass without a word, and everyone assumes the worst.


Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission: to identify and bring down sexual predators via televised sting operations. Her latest target is Dan Mercer, a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens. But his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.


CAUGHT tells the story of a missing girl, the community stunned by her loss, the predator who may have taken her, and the reporter who suddenly realises she can't trust her own instincts about this story - or the motives of the people around her...

My thoughts...

I have read a few Harlan Coben books in the past and have always thoroughly enjoyed them. My Mum is a huge fan and is constantly pushing his books onto me so when I saw this I thought I'd give it a go, especially since I had been reading a teary love story and lots of erotic fiction.

Scandal, suspicion, murder is the tagline, and Caught is full of it all. From the very beginning the story grips you and pulls you in.

From the beginning I was left hoping that Dan wasn't the monster that he was made out to be, but the more I read on, the harder it became for me to believe it and the more I doubted myself. Dan was made out to be this amazingly gentle and giving man, but as the story moved on everything seemed to change and he started to appear to be the man that the reporters had made him out to be.

The story is told from Wendy's point of view, after revealing Dan as a pedophile, ruining his reputation and life she gets a gut feeling that she may have been wrong about him. Out of the blue he calls her asking her to meet him, in a trailer in the middle of no-where she witnesses him being murdered. From that moment, everything that she thought she knew came tumbling down around her and she could no longer trust anyone.

Caught is everything that you want from a thriller, every chapter leaves you wanting more, you are on the edge of your seat and it has so many unexpected twists that it is impossible for you to guess where the story is going to end up.

This is probably one of the hardest books that I have reviewed so far, with so many unexpected events it is hard to put into words how incredibly thrilling this book is without giving anything away.

Until next time, keep reading x

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Book Review - The Best of Me

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
Released 16th February 2012 
eBook 436 pages 
Rating5/5
Source Purchased

Amazon
They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks - with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart.

Years later, the lines between past and present are about to slip . . . Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again. Can true love ever rewrite the past?

My thoughts...
The Best of Me is the first, and currently only, Nicholas Sparks book that I have read. Having seen The Notebook and Dear John I had high expectations, and a box of tissues at the ready. I am so pleased to say that this book didn't disappoint me in the slightest.

So many reviews of this book will talk about how this is typical Nicholas Sparks, a genre that he does so well and so on, but as I have nothing to compare this to I cannot say this. Yes I have seen the films,but films very rarely stick to the story of the book and no doubt The Notebook is far more tragic, heart-wrenching and tearful to read than see.

For me The Best of Me is a love story of epic proportions. My expectations were high and not only did it meet them, it exceeded them. The book was everything that a love story should be, plus so much more that I didn't know I wanted.

From start to finish I was drawn into the love story and willed with everything that I had for Dawson and Amanda to not only find each other but end up together and live happily ever after. The story took so many turns, where I'd think that they would end up together, one would change their mind, then change it again. Stumbling blocks were put in there way at every turn, and I was always left wondering what could be thrown at them next.

I loved the changes in narrative, constantly changing characters to get the story from some else's point of view. For me this added more depth to the story and with so many different characters I think it was important that we got to know each of them as they all played such important roles in the overall story.

Without giving too much away, for me the ending wasn't what I wanted it to be. With that being said, I was happier than I thought I would be as Dawson made one final sacrifice to help others, paying the ultimate price.

One small comment that I would make is that I wish we had got the chance to find out what happened to Alan and how is felt about Dawson being the one to save him, if he even know who Dawson was, or even how Marilyn felt about it.

Overall I adored this book from beginning to end, I almost didn't want it to end. As predicted the tissues were needed as the ending to a truly inspiring love story got the better of me.

If you are looking for a good love story then I would highly recommend this.

Until next time, keep reading! x

Monday, 13 August 2012

Book Review - Life Knocks

Life Knocks by Craig Stone
Released 16th February 2012

eBook 436 pages
Rating 3/5
Source Sent by author
Where to buy Amazon

Amazon summary
This is a love story for anyone that has ever loved and lost; it’s a story about how two people in love are capable of setting themselves on fire because of the human condition to turn good things bad.

Life Knocks is the prequel to “The Squirrel that Dreamt of Madness.”

In 2004 Colossus quits his city job because he feels he is on the wrong path and as a consequence of following his thoughts he ends up falling in love, travelling through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and living on Kauai, the smallest of the habitable Hawaiian Islands.

The story is told from two timelines; one in the present day and one in the past.

Whilst we learn about Colossus then, we also see him now.
Back at work again.

Back doing a job that makes him miserable and with a senile old landlord that obsesses over him, lives in the same building and won’t leave him alone.

So what went right, what went wrong?

Life Knocks is about how Colossus Sosloss had nothing, then achieved more than most could dream, then lost everything and starts again.

This is a love story; but it’s so much more than that.
And it’s no Hollywood love story either.
And it’s funny.

Colossus meets and survives the Cambodian mafia, almost drowns in Thailand, survives hiking a mountain on six Pringles, takes on five Thai guys whilst on acid in a jungle on New Year’s Eve and that’s not half of it.
In the present day he has to manoeuvre around the bizarre world of his racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-everything and everyone landlord that won’t leave him alone and has a penchant for prostitutes.

His landlord breaks into his flat, brings him soup randomly at 3am, throws Colossus between himself and a prostitute he has angered, and threatens the life of Colossus when for inexplicable reasons the landlord accuses him of being Somalian.

And all this why Colossus Sosloss is trying to find love again and recover from the failed love that led him to his present day; it’s not easy for Colossus to find love, maybe because he’s not sure he wants it, but he thinks he should; so sit back and read about his attempts to impress several girls that end up being some of the most awkward moments to be documented by man.

My thoughts...
Life Knocks is the second book from Craig Stone, but the first of his that I have read.  Overall I enjoyed the book, I found the characters interesting, witty and real and the story took you on a special journey with Colossus.

At the beginning I struggled to get into the book, and I think this is mainly down to the way the book is written. The story is written from Colossus's point of view, one paragraph he will be describing an event in his life, the next he will go off an a tangent with some strange thought (this is probably due to the amount of drugs and alcohol he has consumed though). At time this confused me and I did find myself having to re-read sections. To me, this made the book harder to read and I felt that the book would have worked fine without these pieces of information.

With that being said, as the story developed these random outbursts made a lot more sense, probably because I started to understand Colossus a lot more and they didn't seem so strange.
One of the things that I really like in this book is the character development. You follow Colossus through various times in his life, from a young man falling in love for the first time, to an adult having made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions trying to turn his life around.
Mohammed was my favourite character in the book and I always looked forward to seeing what he had been getting up to, and with him I really felt that his problems were resolved in the end. Whereas I think more could have been done with Lily for us to get to know her better so that we could have had more sympathy for her during the big argument chapter.

The ending, I feel, didn't answer all of my questions... what happened to Alicia and Julia? What happened to Colossus? Did he move out to live in the park? Did he find love again? Did he finally eat something other than rice, tuna and curry sauce? Did he realise that he is an alcoholic and stop drinking? I personally would have liked to have seen more closure to his story, as much as the character was developed throughout it could have gone that little bit further to finish it off.

I don't want to be negative about the book, because it really is a brilliant read and I have already recommended it to several people, I am just being picky with my comments and being completely honest. The very first chapter is one of the funniest I have read in a long time and I am certain that a lot of people will be able to relate to it on some level and will have dreamed about sending something very similar themselves, I know I have!

Until next time, keep reading! x