Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

Letters from the only man she's ever loved.
A keepsake of the father she never knew.
Or just a beautiful glass vase that catches the light, even on a grey day.

If you had the chance to make a fresh start, what would you keep from your old life? What would you give away? Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a difficult few years she'd rather forget. But the belongings she's treasured for so long just don't seem to fit who she is now. So Gina makes a resolution. She'll keep just a hundred special items - the rest can go.

But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring . . .

I am a huge Lucy Dillon fan and I have really missed her books with her last book being released back in 2011, so when I heard Lucy was back with a new novel, A Hundred Pieces of Me I was overjoyed.

Gina’s life has been a rollercoaster of events. After a very difficult couple of years she finds herself starting her life all over again. As she sits in her new flat surrounded by boxes containing her past she decides that she needs to let go of the majority but she is going to keep 100 things that are special to her.

This book shows a change in direction for Lucy Dillon. Gone are the light hearted, fun, easy reads and in place is a deep, tender storyline that will warm your heart. I was hooked from the first page, Gina is a very life like character who is going through a very challenging and emotional time but what is so touching is that the whole storyline feels so realistic and to think there are actually people who are going through the same things as Gina. The issues that are used in this storyline have been weaved into the story beautifully and just make this such a tender read. The pace of this book is very slow but whereas usually this is a negative for me it actually works perfectly well for this book.

I loved the solid friendship between Gina and Naomi their love for each other shines through the whole of this book and they really are true friends I had to keep reminding myself that these are fictional characters as they are so realistic. I also loved the little bit of suspense that the author creates around the situation with Kit and Gina I didn’t predict what had happened between them so this kept me reading longing to find out what had occurred.

This book is a thought provoking read and really makes you realise we should just live for the moment and enjoy it as you never know what is around the corner. This is a truly wonderful read it was well worth the wait.

A tender and compelling read that I couldn’t put down. This book gets our second gem rating of the year!

Paperback            Kindle

This is such a lovely read that I have chosen to give away a copy of this book. This is a UK only giveaway ( sorry bookworms it is only due to postage costs at the moment )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Jess Thomas wants . . . . . .
to be more than a single mum getting by day after day . . .
to do her best for her gifted but sensitive daughter Tanzie . . .
to find a way back from the loneliest place on earth

Ed Nicholls is hoping . . . . . .
he won't go to jail . . .
there's a way back from the biggest mistake of his life . . .
something or someone will make it all go away

Jess and Ed are . . . . . .
two strangers looking for a little kindness . . .
two lost souls with a lot to learn from each other . . .
about to find out that one plus one makes more - so much more - than two.

Jojo Moyes is a much loved author by many. I look forward to her new releases each year because she is an author whose books are always compelling reads and she never gets it wrong.

The One Plus One is about a single parent family who are living on desperate times. Money isn’t tight it is non-existent even though mum Jess is trying to hold down two jobs. Son Nicky just doesn’t fit in and is a constant target, whilst bright little Tanzie could become very successful but she needs to go to St Anne’s School but although she has been accepted one thing stands in her way ….. School fees.

When a possible solution arises to be able to help with the financial struggle all hope rests on a handsome stranger. Their fate is in his hands.

This was yet another fantastic read by Jojo Moyes that I couldn’t put down. This book had a more uplifting, fun feel to it compared to the author’s previous books which was nice to see a different side to her writing and I lived it. Although there was a light side to the storyline this was weaved around lots of family struggles, financial crisis, broken homes and bullying to name but a few and so I am sure there is something in this book that everyone can relate too.

I liked the light humour in this book I know I sure won’t be rushing to eat a Kebab anytime soon!
The four main characters in this book were all a joy to read. They were all very different, Jess was a strong, hardworking character who was a great role model ( most of the time!) Ed was a true gentleman underneath it all. Tanzie was a bright little spark and Nicky bless him was a quirky little lad who hasn’t quite figured out where he belongs in the world yet.

It is quite clever how most of the book is set on a car journey and yet it still managed to keep me entertained the whole time when I would have thought it could have got tiresome as I would have thought there is only so much that can happen on a car journey but I was well and truly proved wrong.

It was great to see a different side to this authors writing style and although this doesn’t beat Me Before You ( but honestly could this book ever be beaten!) it was still a fabulously entertaining read.

Kindle       Hardback

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Review for the Kobo Aura HD

I am often asked what the difference between a kindle, Kobo and a Nook is but obviously because e-readers are not cheap I don’t have one of each so I can never give my opinion on them. I used to have the first Kindle that came out which was the Kindle 3g with keyboard which I loved but after owning it for 13 months it died on me, I then received the Kindle Fire HD as a gift and this is what I currently have.

I have now had a great opportunity to try the Kobo Aura HD. The one I was sent is white, and looks very modern and sleek. I was surprised how lightweight it was, it is lighter than the Kindle Fire Hd and also lighter than a book.

It did take a bit longer to find my way around the device but once I had got used to the layout and where all the functions were then it was really simple to use so would be a great all rounder especially for older readers who are a bit put off by technology this is simple enough for them not to be put off.

What I preferred with the Kobo Aura HD is the light. You can choose to turn the light on and off or control the brightness of the light. There was no eye strain ever which is sometimes a problem for me on my Kindle Fire HD.

I love the home screen on the Kobo, you get to see a selection of your books covers which also tells you what percentage you have read and how many hours until you would finish reading the book. There are also books recommendations on the home screen based on the books you have read.

I personally found browsing for books on the Kobo hard, if you know the book and author you want then this is easy you just pop it in the search and then when it comes up you just press buy SIMPLE! But if you are just browsing I found it easier to go onto the WH Smith website and brows on there.

The one thing that drives me mad with my Kindle Fire HD is how quick my battery goes. I charge my kindle every other day. With the Kobo I read a whole book and played games and was looking books up over the period of a week and the battery has only come down to 87% so this would be perfect for taking away on holiday without worrying about having to keep  recharging the battery.

There are also some great classic games which play well on here such as Sudoku and solitaire. I also loved the reading Stats ( book geek here!) On the reading Stats page it keeps track of the hours you spend reading, how much of your library you have read and how many books you have finished!

All in all this is a great little e-reader. I do think it is slightly on the high price I would be happy to pay £80-£90 whereas this retails for £139.99.

If I was just looking to use the e-reader for reading then I would definitely prefer the Kobo but because I use the Kindle Fire HD as a tablet to surf the net and deal with emails etc this is more beneficial for me especially as it is cheaper than the Kobo too so I feel like I get more for my money.

A big thank you to Chloe Parker over at Cherish PR who gave me the opportunity to try out the Kobo Aura HD

Available to buy at WHsmith by clicking HERE

Or available on amazon

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie's passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered. But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. 

Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix, and Evie's heart is sent reeling with an enthusiasm that may just extend beyond the Kettlesheer silver...

The Vintage Girl is the first booked I have ever read by Hester Browne and it was the cover that won me over with this book! I was struggling with another book and this one seemed to keep catching the corner of my eye, I am sure you all agree that this is a beautiful vintage cover and so I had to start this straight away!

Evie has a love of antiques and when she is asked to go to Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to search for family heirlooms that may be able to help the family out financially she cannot wait. What she doesn’t expect to fins is some hidden family secrets and a gorgeous heir in Robert this is looking to be a perfect job for Evie she is in her element!

I really enjoyed this book. It is a great light, easy read that has a perfect writing style that envelopes you into the storyline from the first chapter. Evie is a wonderful main character she seems very dreamy and loving and she is certainly someone I would love to have as a friend. Her enthusiasm for all of the antiques she finds literally pours out through the pages. The descriptive writing when describing not only the antiques but also the castle and surrounds in Scotland was fantastic I actually felt like I was transported there and could visualise it all clearly in my mind.

The author has quite clearly done her research when it comes to Scottish reeling, I take my hat off to Evie because it confused the life out of me! Yes this book was predictable but it really didn’t affect my love of the book it was the perfect easy read that I needed. I will definitely be on the look out for more books by this author.

Paperback          Kindle

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Survivor by Lesley Pearse

It is 1938 and Mariette Carrera is a defiant, strong-willed and selfish seventeen-year-old. And sooner or later, if she stays in the small, gossipy town of Russell, New Zealand, she'll get herself into some serious trouble.

Her doting parents, Belle and Etienne, fear for her reputation. So, with the world on the brink of war, Mari leaves home on the SS Rimutaka, bound for her aunt and uncle's house in London. Armed with the freedom she's longed for since childhood, Mari quickly falls for Morgan, the handsome cockney steward on board ship. But once she reaches London, there are other temptations.

 Mari loves her new life - caught up in a whirl of dances and parties in the glittering West End, relishing her freedom as she earns her own money as a typist. Finally, she feels she is mistress of her own future. Until it is all snatched away by the war. As London endures the Blitz, Mari's new life is cruelly blown apart. Forced from her loving new home, she ends up alone in the East End, and it's worlds away from the London she knows. But there, even in the face of so much despair, she finds the chance to make a difference. Amidst the destruction, Mari learns that the only way to survive this war is to fight, with all the strength, selflessness and compassion within her...and only then will she find true happiness.

 Because Mari is a survivor...

I have not read a book by Lesley Pearse in a long time but the books of hers I have read I enjoyed. I was sent a copy of Survivor to read and I was torn part of me couldn’t wait to start it and delve back into this authors writing world again the other half of me was hesitant as I had heard that this book was a follow on to Belle and The Promise both of which I hadn’t read so I was unsure if I would be able to follow the storyline.

The book gets off to a quick start and I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Mariette was quite a character, although not one I warmed to or could relate to at all, she was still a marvellous character her personality was too big for the small village she lived in and so before she could bring shame on the family her parents sent her away to England.

During Mariette’s time in England the blitz began and we see a change in Mariette but one thing that doesn’t change is her attraction to men. Unfortunately I found that half way through the book my attention began to waver, I felt like the storyline was being drawn out too long and nothing new seemed to be happening,  but I was hesitant to give up as the beginning was so good and I hate to leave a book half way. I am glad I carried on reading as the book did pick up again towards the end.

Although I hadn’t read Belle and The Promise I didn’t feel like that mattered in this book I would never had known that this was a follow on if I hadn’t already been told as I never felt as though I was missing anything so this can easily be read as a stand alone book, although I would love to go back and read the previous books.

This is a great romance with action and tragedy weaved in. Although not a favourite of mine by Lesley Pearse, I enjoyed this book although I do think it could have been a lot shorter which may have helped to keep my attention the whole way through.

Kindle             Hardback

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating. Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

I was worried about reading this book at this moment in time, today is the day that a year ago I lost the most amazing woman in my life and so reading about the loss of a loved one from both sides was going to be rather challenging for me, but because I had heard so many people commenting on how great this book was I had to give it a try.

Rachel had a perfect life with her beautiful little family but her heart stopped beating and so she was taken from her family at such a young age. Leaving behind a loving husband Max and a gorgeous little girl Ellie is heart-breaking itself but Rachal gets to watch both Max and Ellie over time as they begin to come to terms with Rachels death and begin to move on, trouble is it isn’t only Max and Ellie who are struck by grief and needs to move on but so does Rachel.

I cannot believe that this is a debut book, the writing style is fantastic and flawless. I am always a little put off by books told from a dead characters point of view as usually they just feel either so unrealistic bordering on silly or very morbid, this wasn’t the case at all with this book if anything it felt a little too believable and really got me thinking how I would feel if I was Rachels character and so it started pulling at the heart strings.

What works well in this book is that it is divided up into the different stages of grief we go through Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing and Acceptance and this works from both Rachel and from Max and Ellie’s points of views which feels strange thinking that someone who has passed can also grieve. As you can imagine just from the stages of grief alone this is an emotive read but for me it wasn’t so much about the emotion it was more about how thought provoking this book was, I constantly found myself putting myself in both Max and Rachels situation to see if I would feel or act the same.

Ellie is an adorable character and she is going through something no young girl should have to experience. Her character was very well written, there was no whiny babyish talk and she still had so much love and loyalty for her mum. I also loved Max but at times I was shocked by some of his actions.

This was a beautiful read that I thoroughly enjoyed and if this is just the beginning of this authors writing then I very much look forward to see what else this author has to offer.

Kindle            Paperback

Friday, 7 February 2014

The little bookworm comes out of her shell!

One thing I have always wanted to do was meet one of my favourite authors, but my lack of confidence has always meant I never went to any of the book launches. But last night this little book worm came out of her shell and attend the lovely Rowan Coleman's book launch for The Memory book. I loved The Memory Book and so I wanted to go but also my reason for geting into book reviewing was because of the lovely Rowan Coleman. Back when I read The Happy Home for Broken Hearts I did my first review of a book because I loved it so much and Rowan actually replied to my review and so I was determined that I was going to go to this lovely womans book launch and show my support and get the chance to actually meet her ( and squeeze her to bits !)

I wasn't a cool fan I am ashamed to say, I had to ask straight away if I could have a picture with the glam lady of the night!

Rowan also done a little reading of The Memory Book

As well as the lovely Rowan Coleman there were also some other lovely authors who I got to chat too, including the lovely Rebecca Chance who had me in hysterics and left me somewhat a little star struck! Funny the first thing on my mind was "bananas"  

I also met the adorable Ali Harris she was such a little darling and I could have spent the whole night chatting away to her.

I also met the lovely Cally Taylor who was so down to earth and I am so gutted I didn't get a picture with her but I am hoping there may be a chance in the future!

I also got to meet Lucy Robinson, Julie Cohen, Kate Harrison, Lulu Taylor who again were all lovely I just wish I had more time to have a good chat to them all!

As well as the amazing authors I also met some of the lovely publishing ladies who also kept the champagne flowing! Thank you to you all for the invite and for the night of my life!!

It was also a night to finally meet the lovely Amanda from One More Page and also Anne from Things through my letterbox, and Claire Frost from Fabulous Magazine.

I had such a wonderful evening meeting such wonderful people I am so glad I went and if you haven't got your copy of The Memory Book yet then grab a copy soon as it is one not to be missed.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.

I have long been awaiting the release of Rowan Coleman's new book as I am a huge fan of this author and the synopsis won me over.

Today the lovely Rowan Coleman has popped over to the blog and left us a video introducing her new book to us.

Thank you for the video message Rowan I am certain your book is going to be a massive hit.

My Review

Rowan Coleman is one of my favourite authors. I have loved each and every one of her books. None of her books are similar in any way which is why I look forward to her books so much as you never know what she has in store for us next.

The Memory Book tells the heartbreaking story of Claire who is a mother of two beautiful girls and a wife to a loving husband Greg. Sounds like a perfect little family from the outside but Claire is suffering from early onset Alzheimers.

Things are rapidly disappearing from Claire's mind, how long will it be before she doesn't even recognise her own children as she has already lost the memory of her love for her husband Greg.
Greg gives Claire a Memory book so that she can fill the pages with wonderful loving memories.

Although I have loved all of Rowan Coleman's books, The Memory Book is by far my favourite. This was an incredible read that saw the authors writing style at its best. This was such a delicate subject which made this book a very emotional read. I was captivated from beginning to end and I didn't want this book to come to an end.

Claire was such a loveable, courageous character and what she is going through is heartbreaking, not only the effect it is having on her in the present time but also her worry for her children when she is gone moves you to tears and makes you want to hold all of your love ones close and cherish them. The characters and the storyline both felt so life like which made this a very moving read because this is actually happening to people in the world.

The book is mainly told from both Claire and daughter Caitlin's perspectives which gave us a view from both sides, the thoughts and actions of someone with Alzheimers and also what is is like to live with a love one with the disease. It is remarkable how the author manages to get accross the mindset of someone who has Alzheimers, how quickly the fog can just cloud your mind and also how others treat you sometimes is rather childlike even if it is for their own safety.

Although this is a tender read there was also some uplifting, comical times especially when Claire had her three year old accomplice around!
This was a breath-taking tender read that will stay on my mind for a long time to come. As much as I will recommend this book I will not be sharing my copy as this one is for keeps.

The First GEM rating of the year!!

Kindle                 Hardback

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Beyond Grace's Rainbow by Carmel Harrington

When Grace is diagnosed with cancer her best chance of survival is to find a bone marrow transplant from a family member. Only Grace is adopted and her one previous attempt to connect with her birth mother resulted in bitter disappointment. But with her young son, Jack, to think about, and the return of her ex Liam, Jack’s father, reminding her of feelings she’d thought she’d buried long ago, Grace refuses to give up hope just yet. With the help of her friends she bravely embarks on a journey of discovery. This search will bring her from her home in vibrant Dublin to the unspoilt beauty of Wexford where she must unravel a web of lies and deceit that has spanned over thirty years.

Now that I have finished sobbing I can give you my opinion on Beyond Grace’s Rainbow by Carmel Harrington.

Grace is our main character, she is a single mum to her adorable son Jack and she has a large group of close friends who are all about to become her support network as she has just received the devastating news that she has cancer. It is as she is preparing to undergo treatment that her ex Liam has returned and wants to be back in her life and to be a father to his son who he has never met.

This book was breath-taking, although I have read many books that have brought a lump to my throat, this book went one step further, the emotion was so raw and unexpected that I had tears streaming down my face ( not a good look on your break at work!) I believe that because I connected so well with all of the characters I felt like I was part of their group so everything that happened to Grace felt like it was happening to a friend so I think this was why I felt so emotional.

The writing style was perfect and flawless, there were no slow points or parts that felt the need to skim read, it flowed at a continual gentle pace that enveloped you in the storyline. At times I felt the storyline was predictable but then all of a sudden there was a shift in the way things looked and so I got a shock of my life.

The characters were a fabulous mix, I particularly loved the quirky, gay friend Gerry! Having a character like him in this book was really needed as he kept the fun and light-hearted side to an emotional and deep storyline. Grace was such a strong, caring and loveable character who I loved from the start.

The friendship between the group is a major part of the storyline and each of the friends have their own little story going on too. As well as the friendship and Grace’s illness there is also a lovely touch of romance but also some past history to uncover.

This book is easily a 5* read and I will be recommending this book for a long time yet. I wouldn’t hesitate to read more books by this author.

Kindle                 Paperback