Monday, 26 October 2020

Review: A Friend of The Family by Lisa Jewell

 A stranger in your home can only mean trouble . . .

The London family is in crisis.

Newly-divorced Tony is fantasizing about someone he shouldn't.

Prize-winning writer Sean has a hot new girlfriend, and a dose of writer's block.

Their brother Ned has just come back from Australia, leaving his girlfriend behind.

And now they have a new lodger - a mysterious stranger.

But is he the friend this family needs, or a troublemaker they could do without?

Review: I really enjoyed this backlist Lisa Jewell title. I love books where we get to know a whole family and spend time with each member of that family. It reminds me of classic Marian Keyes or those kind of family dramas that revolve around siblings on TV. Whilst we have a mysterious incomer to the family in the form of an unexpected lodger, the title of this one could mean any member of this family, are they actually looking out for one another or just playing it that way on the surface. 

I was sucked into this story right from the beginning because I was so intrigued by how these brothers all related to one another. They've all found themselves at a crossroads of sorts and so have kind of come to rely on the family home and the unit to support them at these interesting times. I think I found myself siding with Ned a lot more than the other brothers because he had taken certain risks in his life that I admired although Toby did seem to be a support for every member of the family, including those who were related through relationships rather than by blood. 

One of the things that Lisa Jewell always does so well is to drip feed a small amount of information at a time when it comes to character development so we find out something about one character and then the story moves on to find out whats going on with another character so you have to keep turning the pages and reading on to find out how that information fits with the story and how the other characters are going to react to that!

I loved being back in a Lisa Jewell novel. This one reminded me of a cross between Ralph's Party, the Making of Us and The House We Grew Up In so if you liked any of those I am sure you will like this one too!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Movie Review: Which Version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches Is My Recommendation?


Blog Tour: Tentoria by Sorin Banu @lovebooksgroup @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Tentoria by Sorin Banu. I have an interview with the author today and if you love the sound of this book you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

Here's what it's all about...

An army of bionic humans made up as a last ditch solution to establish peace will turn against humanity.

In the 22nd century, mankind enters into a new world war to produce the first generation of Tentorians. Cyborgs with functioning bodies and human intelligence, they are the first genuine success in the artificial improvement. In time, the Tentorians come officially to be a nation, showing more and more their true nature: blood and power-thirsty, human-bodied machines. Thus, in the 25th century, the great powers made up their minds to hunt them down all over the world and have them isolated inside a region called TENTORIA.

A Tentorian nation that will bear consequences on the past.

The action moves back in time 500 years, to the year 2024 and to a planet Earth consisting but of a piece of land surrounded by one single large ocean, and a population of 12 million people ruled by a secret organization. Cole is a 27-year-old young man leading a happy life in this peculiar world. As the story unfolds, he realizes the reality of his existence at break-neck speed on the edge of survival.

“Are you ready to forget the future?”

And here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I have been entranced since an early age by questions like: "Where mankind is heading? How we really came into being? How large is the universe? Who or what lies behind the rules governing our existence? What is soul? What is life? etc., so I started with writing down all sorts of ideas and possible theoretical scenarios in a philosophical themed manuscript only to realize in time that I like words and enjoy building up ideas.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

Did more the few years before launching Tentoria. These days is just a bit during weekends. Hopefully, one day I will come back to the good habits of writing more.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

Not necessarily. It is worth mentioning I like Frank Herbert, George R.R. Martin, Isaac Asimov.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I am not very good in developing complex characters, though I would like to improve on this skill. I develop characters to the strict necessary, based on the story needs; and not so much based on real people.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

As I’ve always liked action and Sci-Fi movies, and been an emerging technologies freak, I told myself it would be interesting to create an enticing story easy to be read; and I started from my philosophical notes wrote in the above mentioned manuscript.

That’s how "Tentoria" came to light and, leaving aside the ideas behind the story, I hope it is an absorbing narrative who will keep you glued to it up to the end.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

In short: I write a bit at a time, but is good to have an overall plan.

One of the things I enjoyed most: to have a puzzle built first and then to start taking it apart; to scatter its pieces along the narration, using some of the last pieces in the beginning without betraying the outcome, but trying at the same time to have the story flow and to hook the reader as often as possible.

At the beginning, it was hard to plan all these because I haven’t played previously with such techniques. As writer, in particular a debutant one, you experience a great satisfaction in having the reader at last finding the blanks in the puzzle as you orderly left them there.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

Not of me but a lot of my philosophy.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

Quite some, e.g. medical, on technology, and a lot about Iceland, which I discovered more while writing Tentoria – a must visit country I would say. I have even done a lot of Google-ing on weapons (needed for the action in the book), so much that if someone had checked my profile based on my searches, he would have thought I am planning a terrorist attack .

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Nowadays reviews are the most important marketing tool; these are vital especially for an unknown author like me. Many thanks upfront to every reader that could spend a few minutes leaving an honest review to my book.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

A few, yes. However, more important is that they helped me with lots of reviews. Through them, I learned what wasn’t working in same parts of the book and I made corrections. Good occasion to thank them again here.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

The publication day was great, for both versions, Romanian and English. Being the first book, probably they were two of the most memorable days of my life.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I am not a true fan of GOT nor read it entirely, but I really like how R.R. Martin writes.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

In the very little time I write, second volume of Tentoria. Yes, it should have a sequel.

Thank you!

Author Bio

Sorin Banu published his first book in May 2016, the dystopian novel "Tentoria". He has graduated in Economics and his professional career has been in the IT consulting. He was born in Bucharest and currently lives in Brussels. He is passionate about metaphysics and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality etc., areas that have undoubtedly inspired him in his first book.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Book Vs Movie: Did I Prefer Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca or Netflix’s Version?


Review: Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

After calling off her fall wedding, horror novelist Amy Fox is left with a broken heart, a mega case of writer’s block, and a serious aversion to all things pumpkin spice. When she receives news that her grandfather has broken his wrist driving through a Dunkin Donuts—literally straight through the front windows—five hundred miles away, in her hometown of Autumnboro, New Hampshire, Amy has no choice but to return to check on him. If she doesn’t make sure that he’s back on his feet, Grandpa may be moved into assisted living, and Amy’s beloved childhood home will be put on the market.

Knowing she must return, Amy worries about the only thing worse than pumpkin spice—a reunion with Kit Parker—her childhood best friend, first love, and entire reason for skipping town in the first place. As the two reconnect, a second chance seems possible...if only Kit weren’t holding on to a secret that just might unravel everything.

Review: Oh this was such a cute story. I love a bit of small town romance an d I need a decent dose of it every now and again. This one had the added sweetness of those fall colours and that pumpkin spice scent. I also love a story about someone returning home. 

Amy is a great main character for this novel because she is heartbroken and so we start off by supporting her in that and also because she is a writer. When you read a book about someone who writes books it is always a fun ride. Amy hasn't always made the best choices but she is great at advocating for herself and I loved that about her. I also love the fact that family means so much to her. She has a great heart but isn't afraid to show her dominant side so we got along just fine. 

I also really loved the romance in this novel. The returning home and meeting up with a former love is definitely a trope I can get on board with and the romance in this book is just revved up by the fact that all of this is happening in a small town during fall with some Pumpkin Spice seasoning sprinkled on top. There is nothing raunchy or super sexy about this one and so it was a refreshing read because sometimes you just need more sweetness and less heat. I could see this one playing out as a hallmark movie and I was so happy about that. 

I did listen to this one on audio and the narration was really good but I did this as a buddy read and so I can vouch for the quality of the kindle book too. I really enjoyed this novel and it was the perfect fall version of a Christmas novel we all need right now. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US (still currently free on UK Kindle!)

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Review: One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

 After her number-one single she was never heard of again . . .

Fifteen years later, Bee Bearhorn is found dead in her flat.

Ana Willis always day-dreamed about the exotic half-sister she hadn't seen in years. Now she comes to London to sort through Bee's possessions, only to find a life more surprising and mysterious than even she imagined.

Along with Bee's closest friends, Ana sets out to discover exactly what happened to her half-sister, the one-hit wonder . . .

Review: This was a it of a slow starter for me, I took a little while to bond with these characters but once I got back into the swing of Lisa Jewell's signature slow drip of information when it comes to getting to know people in her books I race through the rest of the novel. 

I loved the mystery surrounding Bee as a character. I feel like we never really got to know exactly what makes her tick and so she is someone who has stuck with me long after reading the book. I found it so intriguing that Bee's family didn't really know her either and I like that Ana really tried hard to bond with a sister who was so absent. 

Ana on the other hand never really knew herself. She has played it safe when it comes to life and so looking into Bee's past really does help with her own future. I like that this was a coming of age novel if you're jut following Ana's story because she is a good person and I really enjoyed watching adventure allow her to blossom!

The idea of whether we really know those around us is fully explored in this novel and I think that although this was written a few years ago now, it is still timely and relevant today. There are many moments of Lisa Jewell's signature writing and character description and so if you have enjoyed her other novels, I am sure you will enjoy this one too. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Guest Review: One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.
And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…
As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

Review: I always enjoy Sarah Morgan’s writing, and particularly look forward to her Christmas book each year; whenever it appears on my Kindle, I know I’m in for a treat. This one certainly didn’t disappoint, as it had me lost in the story in no time and rarely have I felt so disappointed to reach the end of a book and leave the characters behind.

The story revolves around the Mitchell family. Mother Gayle Mitchell is a successful New York business woman who, as a single parent, has brought up daughters Samantha and Ella in a way that she thought best prepared them for a hard world, but which, unfortunately, has ultimately driven them away. The sisters have not seen their mother for five years when a tragic accident has Gayle wanting to reconnect with them. She thinks that an ideal way of reuniting the family would be to spend Christmas together. Thinking back to their childhood Christmases with a mother who saw no point in all the celebrations, the girls are horrified at the thought of spending it with her this year. There is also the problem that a lot has happened in the time they were estranged - Samantha has her own successful travel business and Ella now has a husband and daughter. However, they all set off for a Christmas holiday in the highlands of Scotland, staying in a large country estate owned by Brodie McIntyre, his mother and sister. Samantha was due to pay a flying visit to this new holiday destination with a view to adding it to her recommended destinations for customers, but suddenly she is staying there for real as a tourist. Is this Christmas going to be the nightmare the girls imagine, or is it going to be the making of the family?

I can highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a heartwarming Christmas romance with a strong storyline. It has a wonderful mix of romance, humour and heartache. I found myself completely immersed in the Mitchell family’s world and was easily transported to the snowy Scottish highlands. The picture that the writing conjured up in my mind was so real that I was surprised not to find snow outside when I finally emerged from the book. I would love to be spending my holiday on that estate, but I fear I could never afford it. I thought the characters Sarah Morgan created were all very strong, if not all loveable. Gayle comes over as a hard-headed business woman, but as her story unravels as the pages turn her daughters and the reader begin to understand her parenting motivations and see the person underneath. In addition to the Mitchell family, the McIntyres, including the ruggedly handsome Brodie, also have their own interesting stories. This is another triumph of a Christmas story from a favourite author; I’m already looking forward to her next book.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US