Monday, 21 December 2015

2015 Round Up

It is hard to believe that it is already that time of the year to look back on what 2015 has had to offer. 
This has been a tough year especially with losing our home
earlier this year and returning to live with my parents and having to part with my beloved collection of books.
Luckily I have had some lovely bookish moments this year to keep my spirits up, from some wonderful publication parties where I meet many much loved authors as well as the publicists who work so hard behind the scenes and not forgetting some amazing book worms who have become firm friends.

Thanks to all of you wonderful followers I managed to celebrate my 4 year blogversary too this year with party of online giveaways, thank you so much for getting involved and making it such a fun and exciting milestone that I never dreamed of reaching!

Reading back on last years wrap up post I was hoping to reach 4000 followers for my 4 year blogging but I am thrilled that I have smashed that goal and have now hit the big 5000 followers so thank you all for sharing all my reviews and for your continued support on the blog I hope my reviews have helped you to find some real gems this year.

My biggest accomplishment this year was winning the award for The Blog of the Year 2015 award thanks to Love Stories.

To say I was proud and excited when I heard is an understatement, I actually cried like a big old baby but do you know what I don't mind admitting that and I keep having to have a little peek at it I don't think it has still quite sunk in yet!
Thank you xXx

One of the most exciting things ( other than my little award!) was winning the #bookvent from the lovely @TeamBATC I can't tell you how much I have loved waking up each morning to open a new book each day and it is something I would love to do for someone next year to share the love and excitement of books.

This has been the hardest year picking my top 10 books so I have had to try and find the best for each category instead.

1. Favourite Festive Read.

Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington
My Review

2. Favourite Debut. 
Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey 
My Review

3. Best Twist 
The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

My Review

4. Favourite Atmospheric read.
The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies.

My Review

5. Favourite book from a series.
A Proper Family Adventure by Chrissie Manby.

My Review

6. Favourite Laugh out Loud read.
The Love Shack by Jane Costello.

My Review

7. Favourite crime thriller.
Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

My Review

8. Favourite Thought Provoking read.
We are all Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

My Review

9. Favourite male author's book.
See Me by Nicholas Sparks

My Review

10. Best suspense.
Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan
My Review.
So There so have my top 10 books of 2015, what have been your favourite's this year?

I have already been browsing some of the new releases for 2016 and have made a start on my wish list, I have already read one book which will be out in paperback on the 28th January which is Our Song by Dani Atkins and I can honestly say this will be on my top 10 next year as I really wanted to pop it on this year's list as it had me in absolute tears so pre-order your copy and grab a box of Kleenex!

I managed to reach my Goodreads target this year ( JUST) so I am going to set my 2016 target at 115 books. What is going to be your target this year?

I will be celebrating my 5 YEAR Blogversary this year AHHHHHHH! I will be on the hunt for some quirky gifts for prizes.

So this is my final post of 2015 and I just want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2016. Thank you to all my followers for your continued support it really does mean a lot to me. Thank you to the very generous authors and publishers who have sent books my way to review. Thank you to the wonderful bloggers for helping to bring me out of my little shell and finally able to look forward to and enjoy the wonderful book events without being scared to death ( only half to death now!)

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton

Today I am joined by Rebecca Thornton who has a fabulous guest post for us about her writing process telling us   

Hi Rea thanks so much for having me!

How and where did you start?
I had always wanted to write a novel set in an all-girls boarding school.  I find the idea of female friendships – especially in those vulnerable teenage years – endlessly fascinating. I had no idea how to plot and structure a book though, so I applied for the Writing a Novel course at Faber Academy.

Characters or plot?  
                The Exclusives started off as a romantic comedy – which is absurd given the direction it eventually went in – but when I gave  the original chapters to my classmates and tutors to read at Faber, the reaction wasn’t quite as positive as I hoped! The structure was all over the shop, there was no voice and it was terrible. I was really struggling with it. I was trying to plot all the time but I still had no bloody idea how! I wanted to give up there and then.
One week, the incredible Sadie Jones come in to talk to us, specifically about character. She made an off the cuff comment about character coming before plot and then they would both eventually meet in the middle. Obviously she phrased it much more succinctly than I just have! But it all made sense. Of course character should come first (for me, at any rate). It’s the characters who drive the plot. I scrabbled around to find a suitable protagonist and the character that came into my head was dark and complicated. Nothing like the original ditzy girl that was in my first attempt. I rewrote it all with Sadie’s words in my mind and the plot totally followed from there. I didn’t plan a single word or chapter, which is why my agent probably nearly had a heart attack when she read the first draft, but I just let Josephine, the main girl, lead me by the hand.

Where do you write?
I write in cafes all over West London. I’m usually in Chiswick or The Coffee House on Acton High Street, trying not to shovel my face with muffins and feeling guilty because I’m making one cup of tea last hours.

What advice would you give to any budding writers?
For any writers out there, my main advice is, I think, probably the same as about ninety percent of every other writer out there. Write your first draft without looking back once. Do not look back. Ever. Or you will turn into stone. And finish writing for the day just when you start to feel excited about something happening. It means you’ll be looking forward to getting back to your desk the next day.
Oh and also, don’t think too much. Just do. If you overthink, you’ll never get into the writing zone, where all the magic (apparently) happens.

The Exclusives is out on December 10th in ebook and in paperback on the 7th April 2016.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five. … He promised to love her forever Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. 

But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan's words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late? 

Now forever is finally running out.

Every so often I read a book that draws me in and holds me tight that I never want to end because I then sit with pen to paper but with no words flowing as whatever I go to write just doesn’t feel like it will do the justice the book deserves and that is exactly how I felt with Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I had heard so many wonderful things about this book but I am not a fan of historical romance so I didn’t think this was going to be a book that would appeal to me especially adding the intimidating 546 pages too, but when I won a copy of this book my intrigue took over I decided to give it a try.

The storyline has a dual time frame with the story of Stella told back in World War 2 and the story of Jess in 2011 and both of the women’s stories are intertwined by the letters in which Stella received from Dan back in the war days. When Jess comes across an unopened letter from Dan trying to get in contact with Stella, Jess is determined to help Dan in his quest.

This story literally broke my heart, it was such a tender and emotive read that had me captivated the whole way through. The characters were so vivid and the storyline so powerful making this a real praiseworthy debut and I am so excited to see what else this author delivers.

I found the structure of the book worked perfectly and kept me alert as it chopped and changed from reading the letters then onto both Jess and Stella’s time frame too. Usually when I read dual time frame books my attention wavers and I always prefer one to the other but I found that in this book they both complimented each other perfectly, slipping a little bit of Jess’s background in to help shape her character but for me Stella stole the show in this book and I think it is because we feel like we know her more intimately. Dan was a true charmer, a character who I warmed to straight away. Their story was a passionate heart-warming one that will stay with me for a long time yet.

I loved watching the relationship blossom and I was really hoping for a perfect end for them. The romance started off as a kind of forbidden romance but we are soon brought around to see that everything happens for a reason and you never know what goes on behind closed doors so you shouldn’t be too quick to judge.

This book will definitely be featuring on my top 2015 reads and all I can say is make sure you don’t miss this one, bump it up to the top of your tbr pile. 

Only The Third Gem of the Year.

Paperback                 Kindle 

Monday, 7 December 2015

A Merry Mistletoe Wedding by Judy Astley

It is almost a year since Sean and Thea met and it's been a roller-coaster ride: they're getting married on Christmas Day!

Neither Thea or Sean want a big fuss - a simple wedding, with Christmas lights and just a few sprigs of mistletoe for decoration is all they need. But before they know it, things begin to get complicated.

Trying to manage a long-distance relationship in the build-up to their Christmas wedding is one thing, but as one challenge after another comes their way, the happy couple begin to wonder if they'll ever make it down the aisle . .

I was looking forward to catching up with the characters from It Must Have Been the Mistletoe in Judy Astley’s new release A Merry Mistletoe Wedding. I love revisiting old characters and this book is set a year on from the previous book and is set over the months leading up to Christmas and more importantly Thea and Sean’s winter wedding.

I was a little worried that I had forgotten who was who and what had happened in the previous book but within the first couple of chapters my memory had been jogged and everything fell into place and it soon felt like I had been reunited with friends.

There have been many changes in a year for the family and they have experienced highs and lows. Judy brings a difficult topic in post-natal depression into the storyline and she has dealt with this subject beautifully, it opens our eyes as to how it affects not just the new mum but also the surrounding family members. There are exciting and life changing plans for Mike and Anne and their enthusiasm and excitement could be felt through the pages.

There is a perfect balance between each of the characters storylines in this book and because each couple had something different going on in their lives I found my attention was gripped the whole way through this book.

This book wasn’t overly festive but then It Must Have Been the Mistletoe was very festive so we can’t be greedy and expect the same with this book but this was still a wintery read to curl up with at this time of year. I personally felt like the ending has been left open for the possibility of a third book and because of all the changes the characters were facing in their lives in this book I totally think a third book would work and it would be great to visit the characters one last time.

Paperback               Kindle

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Cottage in the Country by Linn B. Halton

What do you do when your best friend has an affair with your husband of twenty-five years? Well, you pack your bags, grab half of the equity in the house you've both lovingly restored and run away to an idyllic little cottage in the country. Only, it’s not quite so idyllic when

1) Rustic charm sounds rather romantic, but the reality is something else …
2) The heavens decide to open on moving day and the rain just keeps on coming Maddie Brooks grits her teeth and hires the highly recommended 'man who can', ex-soldier, Lewis Hart.

As he rips out the very shabby, and decidedly not-so-chic kitchen, reality sets in. Not only is he the most abrupt person she's ever met, but the man is a Neanderthal! As the flood waters rise, and the village is cut off, everything that could possibly go wrong, does. Hitting the big five-o is the final straw. No presents, family or friends―just infuriating Lewis, who can’t leave because the flood has now cut off his exit.
How on earth is she going to get through this and put her life back together?
Can Maddie Brooks become that ‘fifty-and-fabulous’ woman of her dreams?

A Cottage in the Country by Linn B. Halton is such a cosy uplifting read which follows our main character Maddie Brooks as she embarks on a new chapter of her life. As her big 50th is fast approaching she is determined to make this next chapter about her and achieve her dream.  I love books about renovation and new beginnings so this was a perfect book for me.

Maddie’s excitement for Ash Cottage could easily be felt through the pages and it was easy to visualise this quirky little cottage thanks to the authors beautifully detailed descriptions. I was drawn into the storyline and was enjoying the transformation of the cottage coming together through the hard work that Maddie and handy man Lewis was putting into the renovations.

There is a sweet touch of romance in this book and the author leads us down different paths trying to keep us guessing as to who if anyone would win Maddie’s heart. We have two love interests in this book handy man Lewis and long time friend Ryan and both men are attractive but both have their flaws too, I found my hopes for each man chopping and changing throughout the book.

The storyline is set on the lead up to Christmas but isn’t very festive so it can be read any time of year. I found this such a cosy feel good read.

Paperback               Kindle

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Dead Dog Day by Jackie Kabler.

When your Monday morning begins with a dead dog and ends with a dead boss, you know it's going to be one of those days. And breakfast TV reporter Cora Baxter has already had the weekend from hell, after the man she'd planned a fabulous future with unceremoniously dumped her. Now Cora's much-hated boss has been murdered - the list of suspects isn't exactly short, but as the enquiry continues the trail leads frighteningly close to home. Why is Cora's rival, glamorous, bitchy newsreader Alice Lomas, so devastated by their boss's death? What dark secrets are Cora's camera crew hiding? And why has her now ex-boyfriend vanished? The race to stop the killer striking again is on.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from The Dead Dog Day by Jackie Kabler, especially reading the quote on the back from Eamonn Holmes about a "witty murder mystery" I have never come across a witty murder mystery so I was rather intrigued to see what this book had lurking inside for me.

The storyline starts at a quick pace and is rather eventful with a death of a dog hence the title and in the same first chapter Jeanette Kendrick who is our main character Cora's boss is also murdered. With no witnesses around the search is on to try and discover who the murderer is with the only information to go on the last words Jeanette muttered before she took her last breath "Chris". Speculation starts to arise as to who it could be and throughout the storyline the spotlight turns to a number of different characters who are suspicious.

I personally worked out quite early on who the murderer was which slightly put a downer on the book for me but what I hadn't worked out was the reason why Jeanette was murdered so finding out the reason why made up for me guessing early on who it was.

Our main character Cora is very career focused and like me she seems to have been left out when him upstairs was dishing out the maternal gene so I could relate to her character in some which I always like in a book when I can find a connection with the character but although she is so certain of her career and of the fact she never ever wants children she isn't quite so confident and certain when it came to her love life! I personally find it more than enough having one man around but Cora is surround by men and she still can't make up her mind! 

This book is unlike any book I have read before and it took me a while to put my finger on what was so different but as many of you know my preferred genre is always women's fiction/ romance but this year I have found myself reading quite a lot of crime thrillers and what the author has managed to do is merge the two together perfectly. If you are anything like I was a year ago and wouldn't come out of my reading romance comfort zone then this book is the prefect baby step for you, as you still have the light hearted witty humour in Cora's everyday reports and you also have the roller coaster romance surrounding Cora so everything we love is still there but it is wrapped perfectly around this suspicious murder but with out the dark gritty parts.

I am looking forward to book two and I am hoping that the book is as fast paced and enjoyable as this one but the challenge is on to see if Jackie Kabler can keep me in suspense in the next book.

Paperback               Kindle