Review | Wonder by R. J. Palacio (@rjpalacio)

02 January 2017


Rating:

Publisher: Corgi Children's
Pages: 315
Summary:


I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Wonder has been on my reading radar for well over a year and I was given a copy for Christmas. The book focuses on a young boy called August who, after years of home-schooling, is going to start mainstream school but you see August has a facial deformity that has prevented him being mainstream schooled so he has spent his life being schooled at home but that all changes.

I loved getting to see August readjust to this huge change in his life. He had been quite cocooned before and now the world was opening up to a degree he has never been exposed to before. I really did love August, there is nothing bad about the boy and he is a lovely person and so innocent. His innocence makes him even more special. There's a character in this book who I adored: Summer. She takes August under her wing and she's past his deformity to learn who he is as a person. She was my favourite character and I loved her. She didn't befriend August out of pity or because she was asked to, she did it because she wanted to. She didn't just see his face, she saw the person underneath.

When I first started reading the book, I didn't realise it would switch to different characters POVs but I'm so glad it did. I especially loved reading Viv's (August's sister's) chapters because we really get to see how having August as a brother has affected her life. You can tell she loves him deeply but dealing with something like this as a teenager is incredibly difficult and Viv's chapters displayed that perfectly. At one point I wasn't sure if I would enjoy her chapters but I really did. 

There was one character who we heard from that I didn't enjoy and that was Justin, Viv's boyfriend, I didn't fell like he added anything at all to the story and I didn't like the way they were written unless I'm missing something?

Going in I had heard a lot of good about this book and I was really looking forward to reading it. Wonder is a great book, with an amazing premise and beautifully developed characters but for me, it didn't live up to all the hype and praise. Although, I do think it is a book that needs to be read by children because it really gives them an insight into the devasting effect even a small comment can have on someone who doesn't fit the norm.

Top Five Books of 2016

30 December 2016

So, last year I had an amazing bookish year and managed to pick out ten books that were my favourites for the year. This year hasn't been a great year for me, I have had a lot of DNFs so my top books post only consists of five this year. Here's to a better bookish 2017! 
 Without further ado here's my top five, I have linked the covers to my original reviews of the books.
Happy New Year all! I hope your 2017 is filled with amazing books and much love :)
Caraval by Stephenie Garber:

I was lucky enough to be offered an ARC of this book via NetGalley and I absolutely adored it! If you love The Night Circus you're bound to enjoy this when it is released early next year.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover:

Like last year, Colleen features twice on my top list. I absolutely loved It Ends With Us, it isn't just a book, it's an amazing tale of love and heartbreak. I feel it's one of Colleen's best books so far.

Rhapsody by Cecilia London:

Well, I couldn't very well have a top book post and not have this book included! I ADORE this series and Cecilia. She lets me live in her DMs when I read her books (sorry again Cecilia)...

This book has the accolade of the first use of GIFs in a review to adequately display my need to fangirl and show my love for this instalment of The Bellator Saga...

The One Real Thing by Samantha Young:

Samantha Young is one of my favourite authors and I loved reading The One Real Thing, the first book in her new series now On Dublin Street is complete. The characters and world she creates really does set us up for an amazing new series.

Too Late by Colleen Hoover:

I don't even know where to start with Too Late. I cannot adequately sum up how it made me feel, I just know I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is another great addition to the awesome books Colleen has written. 

Review | Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (@thelaurengraham)

26 December 2016


Rating:

Publisher: Ballatine Books
Pages: 224
Summary:

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.


So, I didn't develop a love for all things Gilmore Girls until news broke earlier this year that the show was coming back for a revival and that all the previous seasons would be on Netflix. I have always wanted to watch Gilmore Girls and, caught the odd episode whilst I was at uni, but I am the kind of person that has to watch something from the start and invest properly. 

So when all seven seasons appeared on Netflix I dove in and fell in love. I fell in love with Lorelai, Rory and Luke. I fell in love with Stars Hollow and all its residents. I got passionate in my hatred for Dean(occasionally), Jess (although I did land up loving him) and Logan (who I NEVER liked and my What's App conversation with a dear friend prove that...) and discovered that Lorelai Gilmore and I share the same love for coffee! This is why this has become my go-to GIF for sleepy mornings:


And this my go-to saying when people ask why I live off coffee:


But anyway, less of my love of Gilmore Girls and more on my love of Lauren's book...

Because I really did love this book, I asked for it for Christmas from my sister and I have already finished. This book is amazing, reading it you feel like Lauren is talking directly to you and you're having a chat about her life over a cup of coffee and cake. Lauren is so relatable and she made me laugh out loud on many an occasion while I read the book. If I ever wrote a book about my life (which I won't be any time soon) I would aspire to write it like this!

We get to see glimpses of her youth, her life before Gilmore Girls when she was trying to make it as an actress, during Gilmore Girls, post-Gilmore Girls and of course, the revival. There wasn't a set timeline to this book, we jumped all over her life in places and I loved that. Normally, I would hate something like that but with this, it just worked! It works because Lauren is good at making it sound like she is writing a personal letter to you. She isn't writing a book for masses, she's writing to every one of us. 

There were a few quotes in this book I have to talk about because they really resonated with me. The first is when she talks about meeting her partner, Peter:
"Someday soon a train is coming. In fact, it may already be on the way. You just don't know it yet."
I really loved that and it perfectly sums up meeting someone. You never know when it'll happen and the way Lauren described it was perfect. Then the second one is this:
"In order to get there, you may have to break down the walls of whatever it is that's holding you back. Ignore the doubt —it's not your friend— and just keep going, keep going, keep going"
I loved that! A lot of the time I am my own worse enemy and try to stop myself doing what I really want to do. It's the reason I landed up staying in a job I hated instead of following my dreams for too long until one day I said, no, I am not happy so I am going to make moves to make a change and do what I want to. It's the best thing I have ever done and I am so happy I have done that. I think people will read that and do the same thing which is just amazing! 

I think my favourite part of the book was getting a glimpse into the filming of the revival and that part of the book really choked me up. I don't know why but I found it really emotional, especially when Lauren mentioned Ed. 

All in all, this is an awesome book and if you love Gilmore Girls and Lauren Graham you definitely need to read this book because it really is like sitting down with an old friend and getting to know them better.

Cover Reveal | Triumph by Cecilia London (@authorclondon)

19 December 2016

So you may have twigged if you read my review of Rhapsody by Cecilia London that I am a HUGE fan of The Bellator Saga. Well, next year the final book is being released (you'll find me sobbing in the corner come release day, trying and failing, to get over the fact I won't get a new book in this series ever again...) and today I am honoured to take part in the final cover reveal of this epic series.

I absolutely adore this cover and it fills me with hope for the final installment in the series.

triumph-final-smaller
Title: Triumph
Series: The Bellator Saga, Book 6
Author: Cecilia London
Genre:  contemporary and erotic romance, romantic suspense, epic romance
Release Date: 6th February 2017
Cover Artist: S.K. Hartly with Luminos Graphic House

About the Book:
triumph-ebook-smaller
"All of your ideals, your hopes and dreams... they cease to matter if you abandon them in your darkest hour. We have to see this through to the end."

Jack McIntyre and Caroline Gerard have never shied away from a challenge. As dual commanders of the American rebel forces, they now face the greatest adversity of their lives. Every decision has permanent consequences. Relationships are tested and restored. Hard truths come to light. When the reality of their situation finally hits them, there is one thing they know for certain.

No sacrifice is too great for love.
goodreads
Triumph COMING SOON FB December 28.jpg

About the Author:
BUSINESS CARD FRONT
Cecilia London is the pen name of a native Illinoisan currently living in San Antonio, Texas. She's filled several roles over the course of her adult life - licensed attorney, wrangler of small children, and obsessed baseball fan, among others. An extroverted introvert with a serious social media addication, she is the author of The Bellator Saga, an epic, genre-crossing romance series. You can catch all of her quirky updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or at her website.
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Blog Tour & Guest Post | The Silent Pool by Phil Kurthausen (@philkurthausen)

18 December 2016

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Silent Pool by Phil Kurthausen, read on the find out all you need to know about the book and its author, enter a giveaway and read the guest post I am featuring today!



Summary:
How long can the past be kept secret?

It is a time of austerity. Financial cuts are biting hard and the once great City of Liverpool finds itself now almost bankrupt. At the eleventh hour funding is found in the form of enigmatic billionaire Kirk Bovind, a religious zealot, determined to change the moral and religious fibre of his old hometown and bringing salvation to the streets.

So when a man disappears without trace solitary lawyer, Erasmus Jones, agrees to track down missing Stephen, but quickly discovers that this is more than just a missing person case. Men are being brutally murdered across the city and Erasmus suspects the deaths are all linked.

As the search for Stephen grows and the ripples from the past begin to spread Erasmus has to ask himself whether Bovind could be behind the killings or if someone is trying to frame him and weaken the strangle hold he has over the city?

Who will be the next to die...?

Amazon | Goodreads

Guest Post:
Sexting, suicide and football abuse
Best selling author Phil Kurthausen talks ‘Sudden Death’


When I was writing the second in the Erasmus Jones series I spoke with my friends with children.   What was their greatest fear I asked them?  I got a plethora of different answers from their child becoming a tory from my perpetually left wing friend Paul to the usual spectrum of disease and stranger danger.  But there was one common response the Internet.   Yes, the greatest tool for communication since Guttenberg had a bright idea is also the source of some of our deepest fears.

I wasn’t surprised. The repository of all human knowledge and experience, the Internet reflects back at us what we have put in it.  Of course, along with the instant communication, the works of Shakespeare, Goethe and Ian Rankin (he owes me for that) come all the rest of the dark soul of humanity, suffering, sexual commerce, and manipulation from Nigerian diplomats seeking account numbers of desperate pensioners to adults willing on others to kill themselves on a live feed.

In ‘Sudden Death’ Erasmus Jones, father to an estranged daughter, discovers a serial killer who kills in just this way, contacting the victim, befriending them, identifying their weakness and then manipulating them to a place where death seems the only rational option.

As we place more of our information, and what are we but a collection of information, on line, it seems to me that we risk giving those adept at divining the secrets in our hearts the key to breaking them apart.

Every other week seems to bring a story about another teen pushed into killing themselves this way and I wonder how long it will be before we see a genuine murderer adopt this methodology?

In ‘Sudden Death’ ,the follow up to ‘The Silent Pool’,  I imagined myself as a person that wanted to do that.  It’s not a nice place but here’s the thing, it’s easy for them to be there, behind their bedroom door, all alone and committing murder.

Giveaway:

Complete the rafflecopter below to enter for the chance to win a £10 Amazon gift card (UK only) and have a character named after you in Phil Kurthausen's next book. One winner only.

The giveaway runs from 12th December to 19th December.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Phil Kurthausen was brought up in Merseyside where he dreamt of being a novelist but ended up working as a lawyer. He has travelled the world working as a flower salesman, a light bulb repair technician and, though scared of heights, painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ken Dodd once put him in a headlock for being annoying.

He has had work broadcast on BBC radio 4 extra, published some short stories and his novel ‘The Killing Pool’ won the Thriller Round in the Harper Collins People’s Novelist Competition broadcast on ITV in November 2011 and appeared in the final. It was later shortlisted for the Dundee International Literary Prize in 2012. He lives in Chester.

Twitter | Website


Review | Caraval by Stephanie Garber (@sgarbergirl)

15 December 2016


Rating:

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 401
Summary:

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

I was provided an ARC of Caraval via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

These kind of books are my all-time favourite books, one where I am reading and get completely swept up in the world and the characters I am reading. The minute I picked up my Kindle I was transported and lost myself in the world Stephanie has created. That is a mark of a great author, one that can make you forget who you are and where you are. Where you just live and breathe the book they've written.

When Caraval opens, we meet Scarlett, a young girl who has grown up hearing tales of Caraval, a game she is desperate to play from her grandmother. Scarlett is scared her chance will pass once she is married to the man her father has arranged for her to marry so she contacts Legend, Caraval's creator, in a bid to get tickets.

Scarlett gets the tickets but as she has never left her isle and is petrified of the price her leaving will cost Tella. You see, Scarlett and Tella live with an abusive father and my heart broke for them. He has to be one of the most sadistic characters I have read. Instead of punishing the sister who breaks his rules he will punish the other. From the moment I met him I really hoped that they girl's would escape and their father get his comeuppance.

Tella enlists the help of Julian to get Scarlett off the their isle and get her to use the tickets Legend has given her. I absolutely loved Julian! From the moment I met him I thought he had something to hide which made me wary of him but as the book progressed I genuinely felt he was really there to help and would do anything for Scarlett who is desperate to win the game and save her sister.

Throughout Caraval, Stephanie has an amazing way with words. The descriptions of the world Scarlett and Julian are in are so enjoyable to read and that is part of the reason you get so swept up in the world. Well, at least it was for me. The closest book I can think that compares to this is The Night Circus. The whole world is just so other-worldly and the whole concept of Caraval and the isle it is on is as equally amazing.

And then there's the ending! I couldn't stop reading when I got to the end of this book, I had to know what was going to happen and if Scarlett would ultimately win! I got so swept up in all these characters and their fight. I also loved the romance you see unfold while reading between Scarlett and Julian, it was a joy to read and I really was hoping against hope that they would land up together.

Review | Love Connection by Camilla Isley (@camillaisley)

09 December 2016


Rating:

Publisher: Pink Bloom Press
Pages: 221
Summary:


Have you ever wondered what might have been?

Gemma Dawson is at the airport, staring at two plane tickets to two different cities. Two different weddings. Two possible futures. She’s at a crossroads.

Be maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding or crash her ex’s?

Gemma’s decision, unknown to her, hinges on a delayed flight and a chance meeting. Now her life is about to go down two parallel tracks—will Gemma fly toward a life with her first love or a future with a man she’s not even met yet?

Love Connection is a feel good Romantic Comedy about one woman, life’s infinite possibilities, and the destiny that lies beyond two different choices.

A little while ago Camilla contacted me about her new book, Love Connection and after loving all her previous books I just couldn't say no! In Love Connection we meet Gemma, who is sat at an airport bar trying to decide what to do: crash her ex's wedding or attend her best friend's wedding and be her maid of honour. 

I think this is my favourite book of Camilla's! We get two sides to the same story and it is so beautifully written, it took me a while to wrap my head around the alternating storylines but once I got used to that I couldn't put this book down. We see both outcomes of Gemma's decision and how that chance meeting changes things but not completely! How she has a destiny and will find her way to it. 

I absolutely loved Gemma in this book, she was so easy to like and get behind. I found myself rooting for her the entire way through the book and I was really hoping in the relevant story that she got the ending she so clearly deserved and was destined to get. Destiny is one of the main themes that runs through the book and it really makes you wonder if everyone has a love they are destined for. A love that is out there and waiting just for them which is a lovely idea and one I am partial to finding myself wanting to believe. 

As we go through the book we get to see the same dates but a completely different set of circumstances and I loved reading those chapters, in particular, seeing how one decision can make a difference in your life depending on where you are. 

And of course, there were some incredibly cute scenes! Jake is just perfect in this book and I really enjoyed reading his character, you can really feel the love he has for Gemma whenever they are together. This is a tough review for me to write because I want to tell you the whole story but I don't, I want people who read this book to go into it without knowing what will happen and just following the story of these characters like I did. 

Blog Tour & Giveaway | Be My Baby by A.L. Michael (@almichael_)

08 December 2016

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for Be My Baby by A. L. Michael.

 Read on to enjoy an excerpt from the book and find out how to enter the giveaway to win a goodie bag full of healthy treats!


Summary:

Two’s company…

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three's a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

Excerpt:

‘Happy birthday baby girl!’

Evie lifted Esme up in the air, then cuddled her close, laughing. Mollie grinned, snapping a picture of the two of them.

‘Now get one of me!’ Mollie said, swapping the camera for her baby, dressed in a blue pinafore and white striped t-shirt underneath. Esme’s blonde curls looked like tiny soft corkscrews as she grinned gummily up at her mother.

‘Ooh, good photo!’ Evie smiled, picking up one of the cupcakes and looking around at the room, strewn with wrapping paper and homemade bunting. ‘So, good party? Sorry I had to work, my supervisor’s a twat bag. I said it was my goddaughter’s birthday and he said it was hypocritical of me, as I was clearly an atheist. Pious bastard.’

‘You’ve got to stop working at the call centre,’ Mollie shook her head, rocking Esme against her chest, feeling her chubby little fists grabbing at her hair.

‘And you’ve got to stop working at the bakery. We’ve got to make a break for it, before Esme wastes her life here, like we have,’ Evie threw herself onto the floor and reached out her hands for the baby. Mollie placed her on the floor, and she crawled to Evie, slobbering and grinning.

‘What, shall we do a Ruby and just disappear to London? I’m sure I could raise this one in a crack den, no problem!’ Mollie rolled her eyes, ‘Eat your cake and stop depressing me.’

‘How about we do presents instead?’ Evie grabbed her bag and pulled out some badly wrapped gifts, covered in torn, garish red paper, lots of tape and bows on top. ‘Ez, look!’

She rustled the paper and encouraged the little girl to tear at it, revealing a giant white rabbit fluffy toy, wearing a top hat. Esme dove on it, nuzzling and drooling.

‘I got her some books but I’m not sure she’ll care about that right now,’ Evie added, patting the bag behind her. ‘What did Ruby send her?’

‘Some heart shaped paperclips and a feather boa,’ Mollie grinned, shaking her head and shrugging.

‘They just get more wacky.’

‘Yes they do,’ Mollie agreed. ‘She said she’s playing a dingy nightclub in Camden though, so that’s cool.’

Evie nodded, ‘At least one of us got out.’

‘You’re going back to uni at the end of your reading week, so you can fuck right off.’

Mollie’s voice had an edge to it, even as she smiled, and Evie nodded, understanding how her own desperate need to get back to London, back to university and art and that career she was working towards, well, they were just more things to rub in Mollie’s face.

‘Hey, language Mama Bear – tiny ears!’ Evie clamped her hands over Esme’s ears.

‘She doesn’t know what it means!’ Mollie rolled her eyes, ‘When the time comes, I will be crazy strict about language.’

Evie nodded and they let the silence settle around them for a few moments.

‘Hey, I got you something,’ Evie reached into her back pocket, pulling out a small, soft square parcel.

‘Why do I get presents? It’s Esme’s day!’ Mollie tore into it, finding a simple silver necklace with an anchor hanging from the chain. She smiled at her friend, raising an eyebrow. ‘Why?’ <

‘Because it’s your anniversary of being a mum! And you’re doing an amazing job, and I thought you should know that,’ Evie shrugged.

‘Why an anchor?’

‘Keep you steady, when seas are rough,’ Evie smiled, reaching out to squeeze Mollie’s hand. ‘It won’t always be this way, Molls. Promise.’

‘Yeah, I know,’ Mollie nodded, as she watched her daughter smile and roll around, wondering, as she had for every one of those three hundred and sixty-five days, whether Jamie thought about them.

‘Things will get better,’ Mollie nodded, almost bursting with the effort it took to lie.

Giveaway:

The prize is a goodie bag, full of healthy foodie treats inspired by one of the characters in the book! It will include baking goodies and other bits and pieces!

The giveaway is only available to UK residents and runs from the 28th November until the 12th December.

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About the Author:


A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She's a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she'll settle for lying on the page.

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