Friday, 10 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Murray Davies - Welcome To Meantime

"DCI Patsy Chalke. Beautiful, rich, Oxford-educated. Owns a riverside penthouse, drives a red Mercedes convertible.
DS Bobby Leyden. The bruiser from the notorious Ferrier estate. Lives on take-away Chinese and cans of 1664. Drives a Ford.
They are Chalke and Cheese, but when a gruesome string of murders rocks the royal borough of Greenwich, the pair must work together to find out who is killing South London's villains. And why.
Only one thing's certain. In Meantime nothing is what it seems to be."

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times again, I’m sure; if a book’s set in Greenwich or the surrounding areas (basically, the areas I know really well), chances are I’ll love it. This book hit the mark in that respect and all other respects too. It follows Greenwich police officers as they attempt to get to the root of a string of murders, including South London’s hard men and celebrities. 

The storyline and plot is incredibly easy to follow, the timeline is well laid out and you don’t feel confused or lost at any point. Each chapter is based on a new day in the case which makes everything feel much more coherent and ‘real time’, I guess. 

When I was about halfway through reading this book, I posted a Facebook status about it:

“Never has a book been so me. Set in Greenwich (live there), the main character used to live on the Ferrier (lived there), not to mention it also features Millwall, cage fighting, and boxing. Oh, and lots of murders. I'm in love.”

I literally told anyone who would listen that it was amazing because that’s honestly what it is. Further down the line, the book mentioned my favourite restaurant too (Tai Won Mein, for those wondering) and I knew it was love, haha. 

The characters are strong. The two main characters are described as Chalke and Cheese and that’s pretty true. Chalke is a very strong-willed woman who seems to come from a different social class as the rest of her colleagues, something she tries to keep from them as much as possible. She lives a different lifestyle but still shares some of the same morals and beliefs as those around her which makes her likeable. Leyden is what I’d imagine I’d be like if I were a guy, given I share a whole load of things in common with him already. He used to live on the Ferrier estate (so did I!), stays true to his roots, and wants to do well at his job. 

The murders are sometimes far-fetched until you remember that you’re reading about South London villains or just villains in general and it becomes a little easier to believe that these things could, and would, happen. They’re all linked together, giving enough away so you want to keep reading but you still don’t know who’s at the heart of the murders for the most part. 

It becomes a little clearer to guess towards the end of the book but I find that to be the case with most thrillers and, personally, I really enjoy that because I feel like I’ve solved the crimes too. Is that sad? Ah, well… 

I can honestly say, hand on heart, this has become one of my favourite books. As soon as I’d finished reading it, I wanted to read it again. When I was taking the DLR to work, I was thinking about all the areas where certain scenes had played out etc. In fact, one thing I will say that surprised (in a good way) me most is the description of Greenwich. It really helped me get a clear image of the scenes, especially some of the murder ones. If you know Greenwich, you’ll love this. If you don’t, you’ll still love it.

Best of all..? Apparently, there’s a second book on the way according to this site: EXCITING!

About the Author: During his career as a national newspaper reporter, Murray Davies has covered most of the major British crime stories and headline court cases of the past thirty years. He lives in London.

Monday, 21 July 2014


In case you haven't heard about it, the ever-so-lovely Emma is the brains and beauty behind #sunathon. From today to July 27th (the day before my birthday), book lovers from all over the world are taking part in a readathon. If you'd like more information about it all, check out Emma's blog post here.

What I love most about #sunathon is there's no specific genre of book to read or a limit to books either. Read as much as you can, when you can. I also LOVE that it's over the weekend too because, working full time, I don't get as much time to read as I'd like. 

I've kicked off today by continuing to read 'After I Left You' by Alison Mercer. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the day and will, hopefully, update you tomorrow with the next book I've chosen. 

A review of 'After I Left You' will be up soon but in the mean time, here's the blurb...

"Every broken heart has a history.
Anna hasn't been back to Oxford since her last summer at university. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the sting of betrayal, the secret she carries around, the last night she spent with them all.
Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present. . . Can Anna finally face up to the memories of that summer and the people she left behind?"

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Fiona Gibson - Take Mum Out

“Three blind dates
Two teenage boys messing up her plans
And one man who'll melt Alice's heart.

'You need to get back in the saddle…' Alice despises that phrase. She's fine being single – with two slothful teenage boys and a meringue business to run, she has enough on her plate without negotiating the troublesome world of modern dating.
However, Alice's three best friends have other ideas. Each one will present her with an utterly delicious, eligible man – all Alice has to do is pick her favourite.”

I read this before mother’s day and completely forgot to publish my review. I’m pretty certain I’d lose my head some days if it wasn’t screwed on, goodness me!

This book was so much fun to read! I loved every second of it. I loved that it wasn’t your standard “girl meets boy and falls in love” story – there was a depth and reality to it that, even if you haven’t been through it, you understand and appreciate. It helped to make the characters more loveable and believable which, for me, is absolutely key to my enjoyment of a book – regardless of how great the story might be.

Alice is the single mother to two teenage boys and, although the dad does help out and see them, they live with her which means she puts all of her attention on them and making her meringue business a success. When her friends suggest setting her up, she isn’t keen on the idea – she’s happy how she is, why should she change that?

One of her three best friends decides that they can all set her up and Alice can pick her favourite. This is such a great idea – it was like reading a super long episode of Blind Date (god, that was such a good show with Cilla Black at the helm!) and who doesn’t want to do that!?

Although the majority of the book focuses on Alice’s love life adventures, it also focuses on some real family issues – teenage boy issues, to be precise. It helps to bring you back to earth with a bump, just as it would in real life but, more than that, it shows that the characters are well-rounded and human. Life isn’t perfect, after all.

Sorry this review is SO late. Just know that this book is a great, humorous read and I recommend it highly to all!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London

“My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit - we do paperwork so real coppers don't have to - and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.
Now I'm a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there's something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.
The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to me to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.”
I had heard so much about this book (and the series in general), I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Thankfully, The Book People had it on offer a few months back so I took advantage and grabbed the first 3 in the series. I honestly don't know why I went so long refusing to read book series, they're amazing!

When it comes to describing this, I'd simply say it's very much Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes. It's a great read for anybody who likes mystery and magic. I'd say given some of the details in the book, it's probably best suited to readers in their mid-late teens and above. Then again, I watched The Exorcist at 12years old and survived so if you can handle it, read it.

It follows Peter Grant and various other police officers as they work hard to solve a very weird case that involves murder and magic. That in itself was enough to make me want to read the book but there's so much more to it than that. There's no real hidden depths although there's a slight love story in the mix. Only slight though - and more of a lust story really.

The writing style is simple which, for some, is a negative thing but I love it. It makes it so easy to follow and much more gripping. The characters are great - there's a mixture of those that can do magic and those that can't, not to mention ghosts. They feature pretty heavily in this story.

In all honesty, the only little niggle I had with the book was that nobody ever seemed to question the fact people could do magic. If I was a police officer and I found out that a colleague could do it, I'd be freaked out (after I came round from fainting, obviously).

I would definitely suggest reading this book, particularly if you like Harry Potter or Sherlock. Or even if you just like to get lost in a good mystery book but don't want to have to think too hard when you're reading it.

Have you read 'Rivers of London'? If so, what did you think? 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jill Mansell - The Unpredictable Consequences of Love

"In the idyllic seaside town of St Carys, Sophie is putting the past firmly behind her.
When Josh arrives in St Carys to run the family hotel, he can't understand why Sophie has zero interest in letting any man into her life. He also can't understand how he's been duped into employing Sophie's impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited.
St Carys has more than its fair share of characters, including the charming but utterly feckless surfer Riley Bryant, who has a massive crush on Tula. Riley's aunt is superstar author Marguerite Marshall. And Marguerite has designs on Josh's grandfather...who in turn still adores his glamorous ex-wife, Dot...
Just how many secrets can one seaside town keep?"

I am yet to read a Jill Mansell book that I didn’t like or I struggled to get into… I honestly think that everything she writes turns to gold. This book is one of many fine examples of how fantastic a writer Jill Mansell truly is – it’s funny, captivating, touching, gripping, and just generally wonderful. I'd been wanting to read it for ages so I was so excited when it was available on BookBridgr (if you're not signed up to the site, definitely check it out - it's fab!)

It follows the lives of a few select characters in St Carys, a wonderfully gorgeous seaside town where, in all honesty, I would want to move to and spend the rest of my days there because it sounds heavenly. The lives of these characters intertwine which makes it feel more ‘together’ as a story because you’re not simply reading about a whole host of random characters – I dunno, it made it feel more jointed for me.

The characters range from Riley who’s a bit of a ladies man who doesn’t want to work, just play, to Sophie whose refusal to let a man become part of her life is something that bemuses those who know her but not her darkest secret. All of the characters are well developed and help, in their own way, to bring the story together. They’re very three dimensional and have real depth to them, some more than others such as Sophie, Riley, and Marguerite. It makes for a very gripping read, I must say.

Without giving too much away, Sophie is a woman who is very focussed on her work and seems to have no time for men in her life. However, it later becomes clear that that’s something she’s deliberately orchestrated due to previous events in her life. Josh takes a shine to her and wants to bring her out of her shell and what unfolds from then on out is a wonder to read. Their friendship/relationship has funny moments, sad moments, and complete ‘COME ON, YOU TWO! SORT IT OUT!’ moments. My personal favourite would be the latter but they’re all really good, I swear.

There’s more to it than a standard love story; there’s surrounding drama and lots of twists and turns. You won’t be able to stop turning the pages and, more to the point, you won’t want to. You want to watch this people grow and come together. You’ll be surprised by how things turn out, that’s for sure.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?

About Jill: Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time.
Actually that's not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet Tweeting and marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she's completely run out of displacement activities does she actually write. 
Follow Jill on Twitter at @JillMansell.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Karen Thompson Walker - Age of Miracles

“'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown…' One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself.” 

I first heard of this book when the lovely Giovanna Fletcher (@mrsgifletcher) mentioned it – at least I think it was her who mentioned it. I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to get my grubby mitts on it but let me tell you, I’m glad I did and it was worth the wait.

The writing style draws you in instantly, to the point where I genuinely forgot I wasn’t living in the book world. It tells the story of Julia’s struggle to grow up and come of age in a world where nothing is certain anymore. Days start getting longer, first by minutes, then hours, then days. It sounds fun at first – more sun (for those who like sun), more of an excuse to go to bed later (for those like me who are tired but keep putting it off). It’s all fun until people start getting hurt and things start going terribly wrong.

As well as looking at how Julia deals with the massive worldly change occurring, it also looks at the development of her first relationship, I suppose, or definite crush at the least. Something that, as teens, we all go through so it’s easy to relate to her feelings and thoughts. The fact that it coincides with something we (I hope) will never go through is, perhaps, what draws you into the story.

The characters are great – from the annoying children at the bus stop to the adults, they’re all written in incredibly well. For me, the worst part of a book is if I feel that some of the characters are there simply as filler which, I’ll be honest, there was one or two in this book but the rest of them made up for that. I loved watching the children in the book develop into young adults, something that happened a little faster thank to the whole ‘days getting longer’ thing, sadly.

The way the characters interact with people, particularly Julia and Seth (if I remember correctly, sorry, I’m writing this without the book at hand and finished this a little while ago!), is great. Their initial awkwardness that turns into becoming inseparable is so true to life, at least for me, that it’s a joy to read – it’s always nice reading things you can relate to, right?

The storyline is easy to follow and the structure definitely helps with this. You’re not left wondering what’s happening and when, it was a joy to read and, like I say, definitely worth the wait. The ending leaves it open for a follow up but, at the same time, it rounds off the story quite nicely which is a great way for the book to end.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: John Green - The Fault in our Stars

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”

I read ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green after I saw a quote from it all over Tumblr. I fell in love with John Green’s writing style immediately and it quickly became one of my favourite books. I’d been meaning to read more of his stuff for a while but didn’t – probably because I have the biggest ‘to-read’ pile you could imagine, but also because I’m quite cheap when it comes to buying book.

Along with my already declared love for John Green’s writing style, I knew a lot of people were raving about this book and saying it had brought them to tears so I was fairly certain that, even if it didn’t make me cry, I was going to like it. I was wrong. I love it.

The story follows the relationship the builds between Augustus and Hazel after they meet at a support group for children who have, or have had, cancer. The relationship that blossoms is incredibly special and perfectly written, as is the friendships between Isaac, Hazel, and Augustus. It’s touching beyond belief.

It’s nice to see a book that touches on cancer in teens without leaving the reader depressed – there’s always an uplifting, positive emotion sweeping through, regardless of what tragedies might happen.

It’s a tragic love story but there’s much more depth to it than your typical ‘boy meets girl, they fall in love, they fall apart’ story. There’s real hurt in the words, there’s humour that makes you chuckle inside (and outside, if you're not careful), there’s anger at the harsh reality of life but, there’s also the sense that life is there to be lived, not dwelled on.

The ending made me sob like a baby; not because it was hopelessly sad but because it was a beautiful truth.

This video of Troye Sivan's song, written after reading this book, also makes me sob like an absolute mess. Especially this video (there's two online).

What’s your favourite tragic love story?

*This is a repost from my old blog*

Thursday, 12 June 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Miranda Dickinson - When I Fall In Love

“What happens when your happy ever after is suddenly and painfully taken away from you?
Elsie Maynard has a whole new life she never expected to have.
From inadvertently founding a choir like no other with former 80s rock star Woody Jensen, to daring to date again, Elsie steps out into an unknown future – a future that could include gorgeous designer Olly Hogarth, a man who seems intent on winning her heart. Overcoming problems, challenges and the occasional frustration – namely overconfident Torin Stewart who seems to be everywhere – Elsie believes she is making the most of her life.
But then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the last item on a very important List.
Can Elsie take the final step and lay her past to rest? Join Elsie as she battles to start again, with the help of a disastrous, newly-formed singing group and her father and sister armed with dating hopefuls.”
Before reading this, I’d only read one other book from the lovely Miranda Dickinson (Welcome to My World) and I loved it. I loved the characters, the way the story unfolded, the developments that occurred – everything! So I was pretty certain I was in for a treat with this book and I was so right. Yes, I know I’m late to reading it but that’s the joy of books; they’re ALWAYS there, there’s no time limit, etc.

The book follows the story of Elsie as she comes to terms with her past. Along the way, she meets people that change her life and help see the world in a different way, giving her a new focus and sense of hope. I don’t want to say what happened to Elsie as I don’t want to ruin the book for you (the blurb does hint at it somewhat but that’s open to interpretation), just know that it’s tough and, because of the person she is/becomes, Elsie is an inspiration.

This is so much more than your average love story and that’s, perhaps, what I love most about it. I’m not the most lovey-dovey person you’ll ever meet and whilst I do enjoy reading typical love stories, sometimes I want something more. It’s weird, there’s only ever been one book (series) that made me think love was this incredibly magical thing… I can now add this book to the (ever so short) list.

The characters in the book are great. They’re honest, believable, and true to life. As you’re reading, you can get clear images of each of them but, more than that, you’re also relating them to people you know too. Or maybe that’s just me. Who knows? As well as the storyline, it was the characters that kept me turning the pages. I wanted to know where they were going, how their friendships were developing, where they would end up. It teaches a great life story too – sometimes the people you dismiss straight away are the ones that have the most impact on your life.

In terms of structure, this book hits the spot. It’s clear, it’s easy to follow, it’s an absolute joy to read, if I’m honest. The locations are well described and bloody beautiful. I’ve never been a sucker for Paris before and now I feel like I HAVE to go, it’s more than a need. Who fancies it..?

If you’ve ever been hurt or gone through hell when it comes to your love life, you’ll know how hard it is to trust and allow yourself to get back out there. This book deals with loss beautifully – it doesn’t make it seem depressing and gloomy but rather focuses on the happiness of having shared time with that person in the first place. Read this book. Just read it. You won’t regret it, I promise. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Book Review: Lisa Appignanesi - Paris Requiem

This follows the life of Raf, James, and Ellie – a trio of siblings. Having been giving the task to bring his siblings back to America, James travels to Paris and finds himself caught up in something that he might have preferred to avoid. After a spate of apparent suicides, including Raf’s lover, the trio (though more so Raf and James) set about trying to get to the bottom of what happened as they’re certain there’s something amiss and it was murder, not suicide.

I will be completely honest and say it took me quite a while to get into this book – not because it’s written terribly or because it’s boring, but simply because it’s more challenging to read than what I’d found myself reading of late. It’s the kind of book that you have to concentrate on in order to keep up with what’s happening – at least that was the case for me, anyway. However, once I had got into the book (took me perhaps 50-100 pages), I was utterly absorbed. I found myself looking forward to the journey to work just so I could sneak a few pages in.

It’s a rich story with lots of aspects to follow, hence the need for concentration, but I never once felt like all the aspects didn’t mesh or work together. Everything blended into a story that was compelling to read and, consequently, something that I would advise people to read. It touched upon themes that I’m not so used to reading about (mental health and anti-Semitism for example) but that’s not a bad thing.

The characters are detailed and full, none of them felt like they overpowered another or were simply there for the sake of being there. Each character has a purpose and brings something to the storyline whilst helping to get certain things out of other characters too. They work well together without feeling bland or pointless.

It’s set in Paris in the 1800’s and I feel like, although it’s not necessary to know what times were like back then to enjoy and appreciate the story, it might have helped to know a little of the background. While we’re on the subject of Paris, one thing that I didn’t enjoy about this book (in fact, it’s the only thing and it’s the tiniest of complaints) is that there would be the odd sentence in French that wasn’t always explained and if, like me, you’re not particularly good at French, it puts you off the reading flow.

The ending felt very well written – sometimes with books I get the feeling the author has reached the point of desperation and just wants to get the ending over with ASAP. That wasn’t the case with Paris Requiem.
I enjoyed the structure and the plot of this book. It flowed wonderfully, I was left guessing and wondering what was going to happen next. The time line was relatively clear so you never felt lost or confused. All in all it was a pleasure to read and I look forward to reading more of Appignanesi’s work.


P.S. on a side note, how beautiful is the cover and does it remind anybody else of The Exorcist? xx

Thursday, 8 May 2014

TAG: Reading Habits

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
My bed is my number 1 place for reading. Whether it’s sitting up or laying down before bed, I’m at my most comfortable there which means I can get lost in the book easier.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Usually it’s a bookmark. My best friend bought me a beautiful motivational one that I use on occasion. I also have a metal bookmark with 50 books to read before you die on it which I love using. At the moment, however, I’m using a press release as a bookmark because I keep forgetting to swap to my bookmark.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or certain number of pages?
If I’m at home, I won’t stop mid-chapter… I HAVE to reach the next one. If I’m on the tube, that’s a whole different story though because I can’t really stay on extra stops until I’ve finished that particular chapter.

4. Do you eat or drink when reading?
I’ve always got a bottle of water near me so I usually sip on that. There are times I’ll read whilst eating dinner but that very much depends on what I’m eating, if it’s remotely messy I wouldn’t dare!

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music when reading?
If I’m reading on the way to/from work, I’ll have my iPod on and my TV is usually on in the background at home.

6. One book at a time or several at once?
One book at a time. I don’t know how people read more than one book – I’d get confused between the stories and characters, etc. I wish I could read more than one at a time though, my ‘to-read’ list wouldn’t be as long then.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
I’ll read everywhere, I’m not fussed. Except cars/buses/coaches – but that’s only because I get travel sickness on them. If I’m on a train/tube/in bed/at a friend’s house/anywhere else, I’m happy to read.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
In my head, for sure.

9. Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?
When I start nearing the end of a book, I have to use all of my self-restraint to not skip forward and see if it’s going to end how I thought. There are times when that doesn’t work out so well, I’ll be honest.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I’m not particularly bothered either way. What I will say is if I lend out a book that I’ve not read yet and it comes back with a broken spine, I get a bit miffed. If it’s me, I don’t mind what happens – a broken spine is often a sign of a well-read book so that’s never a bad thing.

11. Do you write in your books?
Sacrilege! I would never. Even during my educational years, I never wrote in my books – no matter how many times teachers would tell me it would be useful for revision.

I tag everyone who enjoys reading!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jennifer Joyce - A Beginners Guide To Salad

"Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.
Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.
With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?"
 I was lucky enough to win this book but, let me start by saying, I would happily have paid full price for this and would recommend it to anybody. It’s one of those fantastic books whereby you’re fairly certain you know exactly what’s going to happen but every now and then a little twist rears its little head and makes you question things.

It follows the life of Ruth as she embarks on a mission to lose weight so she can attend her school reunion with her head held high and show her former bullies that she’s not the person she was, that she’s over what they did and all the hurtful things they said. There’s two problems with this; she’s awful with diets and she’s not really over it at all.

Along the way, we meet the people in Ruth’s life that matter most – her best friend and flatmate, Billy, her work colleague and friend, Erin, her other flatmate, Theo, and her newest colleague, Jared. What I loved most about this book (if I HAD to pick one thing) would be that each chapter is written the view point of a character, be in Ruth (1st person) or any of the others (3rd person). It really helps you to get a rounded view of what’s happening and how everything affects them all. Better still, there are times when they recap things from a different point of view (I’m describing this so terribly, I’m sorry!) – so if Ruth and Billy are in a scene together and it’s first told to us through Ruth’s point of view, it’s then recapped from Billy’s; it’s a great way to see that people misinterpret things or see things in a different way.

The relationships in this book are fantastic. There was, perhaps, one point in the book where I found myself questioning where Billy has disappeared to but, oddly enough, the next chapter was his and he had just got into a relationship so, as in reality, he’d clearly gone a little M.I.A. whilst getting to know his lovely lady. The interactions are brilliant and true to life and the relationships are complex and comforting.

The characters are realistic, as are the struggles they go through. Jared and Ruth are dealing with their own demons and helping each other through, although they don’t necessarily realise it at the time – lots of misinterpretations and the like. Billy is Ruth’s older brother, Stephen’s best friend and Ruth’s best friend too. He’s there for her as a shoulder to cry on and a support whenever she needs it. Erin is the slightly promiscuous but kind-hearted friend who is on her own little journey that runs in the background of the story. Theo is a male Erin but without the journey – he is what he is and we love or hate him for it.

There’s humour, romance, and tragedy all wrapped up within this wonderfully written story. I was captivated from start to finish and was a bit gutted when I’d finished it, if I’m honest.

As I said at the start of this book, you think you know where it’s going to go but little things keep happening that make you question how sure you are about it and so you change your opinion, only for something else to pop up. It’s this writing style and structure that keeps you absolutely hooked – I had hoped for an early night last night but, nope, I had to stay up and finish it because I couldn’t bear to put it down.

It’s nice to read a book where, although there’s a happy end, it doesn’t entirely work out for the main character – she didn’t end up in the place she’d hoped but she’s happy and that’s such a life lesson to us all… You can’t plan for life but you can be happy with what you’ve got, even if it’s not what you expected. I loved it – it’s as simple as that.

Available to buy on Amazon

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

BOOK HAUL: Super Tiny but Super Exciting

I love book shopping. I'm a bit of an addict, some might say. I'm constantly browsing the web for cheap deals, new books, or the latest releases. Yesterday, I bought two books on my lunch break from the charity shop nearest to my office. Is there anything better than finding little treasures hidden in the book section of a charity shop? I also got a delivery of some books that I've been wanting for ages but had just never got round to buying - story of my life, really. Now, obviously I can't link to charity shops but what I can do is link to Amazon/Waterstones/various other book selling places so that you can check them out too!

Granted that's the worst picture in the world but what can ya do?

The first three I bought from The Book People recently and the order came through a matter of days later. I've wanted to read Ben Aaronovitch's 'Rivers of London' series for the longest time because I've heard so many people talk about it and it sounds like something that's right up my street so when I was it was just £4.50 on the website, I HAD to buy it. Now I just need to find the time to get my teeth into them.

I also (clearly) bought Stef Penney's 'The Tenderness of Wolves'. The blurb sounded amazing so I would have got it anyway but I'm sure that I've heard somebody say this is a really good book on more than one occasion. I, at the very least, remember somebody talking about it to some extent, ha. Plus, it was only £1.50, how could I say no?!

Finally, I bought Jane Fallon's 'Got You Back' - I'm SO excited to read this. It sounds amazing and it was an absolute steal at just £1! 

What books have you bought recently and do you have any suggestions for me?

Monday, 28 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Nicola Doherty – If I Could Turn Back Time

“What if you found The One, then lost him again?
Or not so much lost him as became the neurotic, needy girlfriend from hell. The girl who tried to make him choose between her and his job, and got seriously paranoid about his relationship with his best female friend...
Zoe knows she doesn't deserve another chance with David. But if there's the tiniest possibility of making things right, she'll snatch it. Even if it means breaking the laws of physics to do so...”

 The story starts with a character waking up the morning after with the hangover from hell. She doesn’t really know where she is or how she got that – all she knows is last night was a mental one, by anybody’s standards, and that, wherever she is, it’s ridiculously hot considering it’s winter. It turns out she’s in David’s room which, from the blurb, we can guess is her ex-boyfriend. Is this just a terrible hangover or something more..?

We’re then taken back 12 hours to when the events of the night start to unfold and we’re given the opportunity to learn about the narrator – we learn she’s called ZoĆ© and that she’s clearly hung up on her ex. After a long day at work (she works in retail), she decides to follow a tradition a customer told her about; making a wish in the shop window.

We then follow her journey as she pieces together what’s happened and tries to correct her previous mistakes in order to change the outcome – and not necessarily just to do with her relationship with David.

There’s a little bit of a love triangle and, though the characters involved might not be a surprise, the outcome and the relationships that unfold are an absolute delight to read about. Let’s face it, most of us, at some point, have been dumped by somebody and spent months moping about and wanting them back, saying we’d do anything to get them back or we’ve at least known someone like that. Either way, it helps to make this book all the more enjoyable.

The characters are well-written and the relationships/friendships are well explored and well developed. The way that they interact with each other is exactly how I’ve known people in this situation to behave so it’s very much like reading about friends in this situation – just with a bit of added time travel!

I like that there’s a bit of a moral to the book – that even if you could go back and change things, it doesn’t mean they will go as you plan because you can’t really plan for life. Things happen, people come and go, and it’s all about how you react to certain things.

We watch as Zoe rebuilds (or doesn’t, depending how you look at it) her relationship with David but also how she cheats her way into the job she’s always wanted after having been denied it before she jumped back in time. She has the upper hand in a lot of the situations but that doesn’t necessarily mean she gets what she wants out of it. She learns that maybe some things don’t work out for a reason in life and love.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could have spent forever reading about it and watching relationships develop and fall apart. The structure was lovely, the language used was spot on, and it was incredibly light and easy reading.

This is Nicola’s second novel and, after reading this, I’ll definitely be checking out her first -  The Out of Office Girl.

eBooks/Kindle: The Book People | Amazon | Waterstones

*I was lucky enough to be sent this via BookBridgr so thank you BookBridgr and Frances Gough!

Friday, 25 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jimmy Rice and Laura Tait - The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me

"Everyone remembers their first love.
Holly certainly remembers Alex. But she decided ten years ago that love wasn't about mix tapes and seizing the moment - though she's not exactly sure it's about secret dates with your boss, either.
But what if the feelings never really went away?
Alex wants to make every moment of his new job count. It's a fresh start in a big city, and he's almost certain that moving to London has nothing to do with Holly. Almost.
How do you know if it was meant to be or never meant to happen at all?"

Following the story of Holly and Alex, we’re taken on a journey of their relationship both past and present. They’ve known each other for years and it’s not always been smooth sailing. He loved her but thought she was too good for him and not interested, she loved him but thought he wasn’t interested. When Alex moves to London, he gets in touch with Holly and their friendship is left to blossom but can they pick up where they left off and finish what they started?

This was the first book I’ve ever read (apart from the dull university textbooks) that have been written by more than one author and, I’ll be honest, it’s been quite the revelation. I loved the idea of it but I love it even more in practice. It really helps you to feel like you’re being told the story from both parties involved whereas usually the story focuses on one side. 

It was set in Greenwich and surrounding areas which is another thing that I really enjoyed about this book. I know it’s really silly but when a book is set in an area I know, it makes it so much easier for me to get into the book as I can picture the scene really clearly and, as I live in Greenwich, this definitely made it easier. 

The difference in tones of voices and writing styles is subtle and very complementary to each other. I think that if this book had been written any differently, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly half as much. It was written in a casual tone of voice which is undoubtedly my favourite. I like to read books that are written in such a way it feels like a friend telling me a story (I really don’t think I’m explaining this well at all), with the language used and pauses taken. 

There are funny elements to this book and I definitely chuckled more than once whilst reading this, particularly at the jogging scene to name one of many. Of course, being a ‘rom-com’ book, there’s a certain element of wanting to bang their heads together but it wouldn’t be a rom-com without that, would it?! 

The characters in the book are well developed and portrayed. Sometimes I feel like a character is supposed to be bitchy but then their dialogue says something utterly different – not the case with this book. I loved that there was a character called Melissa, simply because that’s my name (well, Melisa/Melissa).

If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that you’ll be able to relate to in some manner, whether it’s a lost love or a lost friendship, this book is a great option. It’s brilliantly written, it’s funny, it has great structure and flow, and is, in all honesty, a great book.

Amazon: (Paperback) 

Monday, 14 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Jane Costello - The Time of Our Lives

“Three best friends. One five-star hotel. Will it be the holiday of a lifetime . . .?
Imogen and her friends Meredith and Nicola have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.
So when Meredith wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona's hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in unapologetic luxury.
But when the worst crisis of her working life erupts back home, Imogen has to juggle her BlackBerry with a Manhattan, while soothing a hysterical boss and hunting down an AWOL assistant.
Between a robbery, a run-in with hotel security staff and an encounter on a nudist beach that they'd all rather forget, the friends stumble from one disaster to the next. At least Imogen has a distraction in the form of the gorgeous guy who's always in the right place at the very worst time. Until, that is, his motives start to arouse a few suspicions…”
Meredith has to be the luckiest person ever – she not only wins a holiday for 2 to a 5 star hotel in Barcelona, she then gets the competition providers to find a way of getting a third person to go too. So Meredith, Imogen, and Nicola set off on their dream holiday although, well… let’s just say it doesn’t exactly go to plan. Before they’ve even left the airport, Imogen has managed to throw her buffet breakfast over herself and a ridiculously hot man and, it turns out, it’s not the last she sees of him. 

It was at this point of the book i.e. VERY early on, that I knew I was going to love it and I was right. Jane Costello’s writing style is very lighthearted and funny which suits me perfectly – I actually laughed to myself on the tube more than once when reading this. It’s also this humour that, when juxtaposed alongside more serious/sad scenes, helps to bring you down with a bump, something I love. 

I adored the friendship between the three ladies. They look out for each other, are comfortable with each other but, at the same time, will tell it how it is with no holding back.

Things don’t run smoothly for Imogen and, as it’s her first holiday in many years, you feel bad for her but, for the most part, the scraps and situations she finds herself in are utterly hilarious and I found myself laughing at/with her more than pitying her. 

Throughout the story, Imogen frequently mentions her daughter’s father, Roberto, and is seemingly unable to get over him leaving her but never really reveals what happened. It’s because of this that she seems a bit ‘bunny boiler’-esque until she reveals the truth to Harry – the gorgeous fella from the airport, a journalist who seems to have ulterior motives thanks to the work drama that poor Imogen is having to deal with whilst on holiday.

When you find out Imogen’s past, you really want her to get with Harry and work everything else out – and you’re absolutely screaming at her by this point to take a step back from work – and re-evaluate what’s important to her and look at her priorities. 

On a personal note, I find it hard to believe that two people would form such a bond given the time frame but that’s the whole point of a book; it can romanticise and steer away from reality. 

The timeline of the book is very clear and easy to keep up with, making the book incredibly easy to read. Add to that Jane Costello’s writing style and you’re definitely on to a winner. The book made me smile and laugh – it was such a great, easy read and I loved every moment of it. I liked the characters and the situations that they find themselves in but, most importantly, I liked that they all went through it and became better people by facing up to the things that they had been ignoring – a life lesson we could all learn from sometimes.

Amazon: Kindle | Paperback
Waterstones: Paperback

Friday, 11 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Pippa Wright - Unsuitable Men

I’ve been so busy these last few weeks that I haven’t been able to blog as often as I’d like so, for that, I’d like to apologise. I have tonnes of notes written up about various books so I’ll get cracking on writing them ASAP. In the meantime, I finished this book on my journey to work today and I’m going to sneakily write a review at work so forgive me for any errors, I’m not the best ninja!

"After eleven years of coupled-up domesticity, Rory Carmichael is single for the first time in her adult life. Even she would admit that her ex-boyfriend Martin wasn’t the most exciting man in the world – let’s face it, his idea of a rocking night was one spent updating his Excel spreadsheets – but Rory could rely on him and, having watched her mother rack up four turbulent marriages, that’s what matters. But when she discovers that her supposedly reliable Mr Right is a distinctly unreliable cheater, she’s forced to consider the possibility that everything she knows about relationships is wrong.
In an effort to reinvigorate both her love life and her lacklustre career at posh magazine Country House, she sets herself a mission to date as many unsuitable men as possible. Toyboys. Sugar daddies. Fauxmosexuals. Maybe the bad boys she’s never dated can show her what she’s been missing in life. But if Mr Right can turn out to be so wrong, maybe one of her Mr Wrongs will turn out to be just right…"
I absolutely loved the concept of this book – we’ve all dated people that weren’t exactly suitable haven’t we? Rory finds herself single after 11 years of being with her boyfriend whom she’d planned a future with. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she finds out he cheated on her, is forced to move out of their joint home, and isn’t really enjoying work all that much. So when her column at Country House magazine gets cut she has to think fast and, influenced by a conversation with her colleague Ticky, she suggest writing about dates with unsuitable men.

This book was a genuine joy to read. I won’t lie and say I loved everything about it but I did love the majority of it and the things I didn’t like really aren’t major at all. Let’s get the ‘bad’ out of the way, shall we? There’s literally one thing: Rory’s colleagues are all posh and so everything they say, especially Ticky, is spelt out phonetically, so you end up reading it in a posh accent. Now I’m aware that for most people that would be fine but, for me, I just can’t. I don’t really appreciate a posh voice the way I know I should and so it began to grate on me because I couldn’t get away from it. (I did tell you it was silly!)

The characters in the book are well developed and very fleshed out, from the main characters to the unsuitable men that Rory finds herself dating. There are no characters that just feel like padding – for me there’s nothing worse than spending time reading about somebody to find that they’re quite two dimensional, boring and, ultimately, not really relevant to the story. This wasn’t the case – they all have their part to play and bring something worth reading to the table.

It touches upon the celebrity phenomenon but not in the way you might expect. They’re not current celebrities, as such, more past celebrities. ‘They’ being Rory’s aunt and her lodgers (lodgers feels like the wrong word as they’re more like family – something that becomes evident as the story develops).

One of the stand out things about this book was that, yes, it looks at Rory dating unsuitable men and that’s funny etc. but it also goes deeper and is about Rory growing up, changing, and becoming the person she wants to be, not the person she thought she had to be. There are moments you want to shout at her for not spotting the obvious but that just proves how well written this book is – the fact that I could get that absorbed in this make-believe world says a lot.

There’s a happy ending but it’s not necessarily the one you might think would occur as you’re reading it, although it might be as I guessed relatively early on. Having said that Pippa Wright did throw a little something in the mix that shook things up and I doubted myself for a while. Overall, this was a great book to read and, as I have ‘The Foster Husband’ sitting on my ‘to-read’ pile, I am now even more excited to get my teeth into it!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

COVER REVEAL: Sue Moorcroft - The Wedding Proposal

I will literally read anything I can get my hands on but, as fickle as it sounds, I’m more inclined to read something if it has a pretty cover so imagine my delight when I saw the cover for Sue Moorcroft’s upcoming novel, ‘The Wedding Proposal’. Here are two things that I don’t expect you to know about me; 1) I LOVE mint green and all shades that are close to it, and 2) I love petals. Now, knowing those two things, let me know you the front cover…

JUST LOOK AT IT! My goodness! It’s a thing of beauty! When I saw this, I didn’t know anything about the book but I knew I wanted to get my hands on it.

"Can a runaway bride stop running?Elle Jamieson is an unusually private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But when she’s made redundant, with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to a new life in sunny Malta.
Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less from others. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.
Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal ended everything they had. But then an unexpected phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s hidden past when it finally comes to light?"
After having read the blurb, I know I’m going to enjoy it which just makes this whole cover reveal even more amazing. It’s beautiful and sounds like something I’d enjoy.

More information about Sue Moorcroft
Sue Moorcroft is an accomplished writer of novels and short stories, as well as a creative writing tutor. She’s also the fiction judge at Writers Forum and a regular guest on Sue Dougan’s Chat Room at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Sue’s Choc Lit novels include: Starting Over, All That Mullarkey, Want to Know a Secret?, Love & Freedom, Dream a Little Dream, Is This Love? and Darcie’s Dilemma (ebook). Love & Freedom won the Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was shortlisted for the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

‘The Wedding Proposal’ is going to be released this September and I, for one, can’t wait. 
What about you?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

FICTION 5: Great Books for Mothers Day!

In no particular order, here are 5 books I think would make fantastic presents for any mother on Mother's Day!

1) Lettice & Victoria - Susanna Johnston

I wrote a review about this book (read it here) but in short, it's a great read. It's one of those books that might take more than one read before you absorb everything fully but that just makes it even better - it proves how rich it is and the amount of layers there are in the story. If your mum liked 'Keeping Up Appearances', chances are she'll love this!

2) Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

In all honesty, I’ve read a LOT of books and this is, by far, one of the most touching books I’ve ever read. I cried a lot when reading this but not always sad tears. I’ve written a review on this book (read it here) and I know that I’m going to read this time and time again in the years to come. I love it. The characters are fantastic, you can’t help but love them. Also, the story doesn’t follow the usual chick-lit structure which appealed to me.

3) The Time of Our Lives – Jane Costello

The Time of Our Lives

I recently finished this book and loved it all. It’s about 3 friends who win a luxury holiday (their first holiday together in a LONG time) but things don’t work out as they’d planned. They find themselves in hilarious situations, although probably not so funny if they’re happening to you. They also realise things about themselves that they didn’t want to admit before. I laughed through the majority of the book and when I wasn’t laughing, I was gasping at the situations the 3 friends found themselves in or saddened by the back story of Imogen. It’s light-hearted, funny, and easy to read. This, a cup of tea (maybe not for me as I don’t like tea), and a comfy sofa and I guarantee your mum will be relaxed!

4) The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Without a doubt, hands down, my favourite book of all time. I had to read this when I was studying English Literature at 6th Form and I fell in love with it immediately. Usually, as we all know, when you have to study a book, you pull it apart so much that you end up hating it and never wanting to read it again – not the case with this book. I’ve read it more times than I care to remember and I love it just as much. It’s set in a dystopian world where women are forced to act out certain roles in society, right down to how they dress/speak. They’re not allowed to read and lose touch with many friends. This is written from the view point of Offred, a woman who’s rebelling in her own ways against the world she now finds herself living in.

5) The Brightest Star in the Sky – Marian Keyes

The story is set in Dublin and is based on the lives of everybody living at 66 Star Street. The way Keyes makes the lives intertwine is engaging and captivating. There are points where you think you know what’s going to happen and then you find out you’re wrong. Throughout the story, there’s a small narrative from the mysterious visitor and it isn’t until you’re about halfway into the book that you work out just who that visitor may be. If you think then that you know how the book will end, you might just find you’re wrong. The story touches upon love, pain, loss, and success, in such a way that you can’t help but keep turning the pages. This book is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings at the same time. It’s brilliantly written and is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The story counts down the days until the absolute revelation of the mysterious visitor and it’s that eagerness to find out just who it is that makes it slightly impossible to stop reading. This book is incredibly heart-warming, funny, and just genuinely amazing.

Monday, 24 March 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Claire King - The Night Rainbow

"During one long, hot summer, five-year-old Pea and her little sister Margot play alone in the meadow behind their house, on the edge of a small village in Southern France. Her mother is too sad to take care of them; she left her happiness in the hospital, along with the baby. Pea's father has died in an accident and Maman, burdened by her double grief and isolated from the village by her Englishness, has retreated to a place where Pea cannot reach her - although she tries desperately to do so.
Then Pea meets Claude, a man who seems to love the meadow as she does and who always has time to play. Pea believes that she and Margot have found a friend, and maybe even a new papa. But why do the villagers view Claude with suspicion? And what secret is he keeping in his strange, empty house?"
This novel follows the life of two sisters, Pea and Margot, as they cope with the fallout of the loss and devastation that struck their family a short while ago. Along the way, they make a new friend who, despite their own tragedy, slowly helps to make everything better.

The story is told through the eyes of Pea, aged 5 and a half. At times the narration felt as though it was coming from somebody much older than Pea is supposed to be. Instead of seeing that as a flaw, I'd like to think that's just the author's way of further proving that Pea had to grow up a lot quicker than any child should have, as a result of the misfortune her family suffered. Despite everything Pea has gone through, the narration perfectly encapsulates the optimism that many young children seem to possess. It is this optimism that keeps you turning the pages.

The novel focuses on very few characters, allowing you to learn a lot about each of them. It's this fact that helps to make it so captivating - it's like following the lives of people you know and care about. It also shows the various ways in which tragedy affects a person and how differently people cope with it; for that alone, it is a brilliant piece of literature.

One element of this novel became fairly obvious quite quickly. I'm not sure if that's an intentional act by the author but, either way, it didn't make the novel any less enjoyable to read. Early on in the story, a relationship develops that makes you wonder whether you should continue to read... All I can say is you'll regret it if you don't. This book touches on some of the darkest places a human can find themselves in but the ending shows that there's always hope.

There's something slightly magical about a story that contains so many negative emotions and situations yet can still portray positivity throughout. This novel manages that with ease. It's an absolute delight to read, even if it is slightly haunting at points. It's the kind of book you read and, thanks to the wonderful descriptive nature of Pea's narration, find yourself getting lost in her world.

The book is available at Waterstones, from Amazon, or on your Kindle