Thursday, 16 November 2017

This Week's Exciting Releases-My Current Reads!

Ok so I haven't done a post for a little while where I talk about what I'm currently reading. I talk about what I want to read and what I have read in a month or during a readathon but I thought something updating you on the releases I am excited to be reading would be a great idea!

This week seemed like the perfect week to do this because there are three releases that I am excited for coming out this week. Two of them come out today (16th November 2017) and the other came out on Monday. I am busy packing and trying to tie up all my loose ends before heading back to the states so I will try and post my reviews of these books as quickly as I can but there might be a short delay before I can get them out to you. So here are the new release I am excited for this week and the books I am currently reading...

Part one in the new series from bestselling author Holly Hepburn!

Sadie is a single mum, nursing a broken heart. Cat is burned out from working long hours as a chef. They decide to invest in their dream – running their own handmade biscuit shop in gorgeous Castle Court, a three-storey food court tucked away behind Chester's bustling streets.
They soon discover that Castle Court has its own community – a little haven of delight against the stresses of the outside world. But not everyone welcomes the new business; the patisserie owner is less than pleased by what she sees as direct competition and Greg, who runs the fancy bistro that dominates one end of the courtyard, doesn't think Sadie and Cat have the talent or business acumen to succeed. Luckily, there's support in the form of the delectable Jaren, who owns the Dutch waffle house opposite Smart Cookies, and Swiss chocolate-shop owner, Elin. And if all else fails, the friends can drown their sorrows in the cocktail bar that overlooks the court.

The short story eBook sequel to Thirteen Weddings, from bestselling author Paige Toon. 
Four years ago, following that fated thirteenth wedding, Bronte fled the UK and has been happily burying her head in the sand ever since. But when an email lands in her inbox from Alex, it seems her past might be about to catch up with her right here in Sydney. Is it time for Bronte to finally face her demons?
With links to The Last Piece of My HeartLucy in the Sky and One Perfect Summer, this short story ebook sequel to Thirteen Weddings is a must for all fans of Paige Toon.

When the love of your life says you're not The One, who are you?
Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they're about to get engaged.
Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future.
Lizzy is heartbroken - but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she's been missing while playing Ian's ideal 'better half'.
But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him?
Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before - and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . .

How exciting! I would love to hear what you are currently reading and also if any of you are reading these books too, yet for awesome new releases from my favourite authors!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Guest Review: Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!
A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…

Review: This is a heartwarming festive treat from the lovely Debbie Johnson. I always look forward to reading her books because I know that the story within will be full of her characteristic humour but also with the ability to touch your heart and have you reaching for the tissue box.

The female lead in this tale is Leah Harvey, a chef from London. We meet her in a deserted part of Scotland as she is faced with trudging through the deep snow in her white satin Jimmy Choo's, having fled her own wedding. Luckily for her, she ends up at the door of the gorgeous but moody Rob Cavelli, an American businessman spending the Christmas break in this remote area. What follows is a Christmas that is very different from what either expected, and a complete change of direction for Leah. In addition to these main characters, the cast also contains Rob's brother, Marco, his powerful mother, Dorothea, and Leah's cheating ex-fiancé Doug. The Cavelli family live in Chicago, where they run a huge business empire, and where much of the action is set. 

I really loved this story. It had me hooked from the start and I really hated putting it down. Leah herself is a likeable and interesting character; feisty on the outside but full of doubts on the inside. In common with Rob, she is suffering from misplaced guilt over an incident in her past. In addition, she has been hurt by Doug's behaviour and the subsequent wedding that never happened. Rob is also a lovely character, but is full of emotional turmoil causing some extreme behaviour on his part. I enjoyed the interaction between Leah and Rob; each was trying not to fall in love with the other and you were never sure what direction their relationship was going to take next. 

In summary, I would heartily recommend this book as one to curl up with in the run up to Christmas. It contains its fair share of humour, but plenty of real drama too. 

Click the link to order your copy: UK or US

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Share with Children 14/11/17

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I am lucky that I get to do this on a regular basis, but there are some books I simply haven't had time to read with children and so this is a mixture of books I have and haven't shared with individual pupils and classes. Yes I know there are more than 10!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Guest Review: Eleven Minutes Late by Matthew Engel

Britain gave railways to the world, yet its own network is the dearest (definitely) and the worst (probably) in Western Europe. Trains are deeply embedded in the national psyche and folklore - yet it is considered uncool to care about them.
For Matthew Engel the railway system is the ultimate expression of Britishness. It represents all the nation's ingenuity, incompetence, nostalgia, corruption, humour, capacity for suffering and even sexual repression. To uncover its mysteries, Engel has travelled the system from Penzance to Thurso, exploring its history and talking to people from politicians to platform staff.
Along the way Engel ('half-John Betjeman, half-Victor Meldrew') finds the most charmingly bizarre train in Britain, the most beautiful branch line, the rudest railwayman, and - after a quest lasting decades - an Individual Pot of Strawberry Jam. Eleven Minutes Late is both a polemic and a paean, and it is also very funny.

Review: This book, sub-titled "A Train Journey To The Soul Of Britain", is a description of the author's travels throughout the rail network, interwoven with his personal view of the historical development of Britain's railway system. It is clear that Matthew Engel has a deep love of Britain's railways combined with a sense of frustration at the seemingly haphazard manner in which they developed and successive governments' lack of a long term, strategic view of the future role of railways. However, the book is not full of gloom and I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions.

In the first strand of the book, a trip from Penzance, the most south westerly point on the rail network, to Thurso, the most northerly point, is described. This is followed by various trips to other places on the network chosen for their location, scenic beauty or just the quirkiness of the place names. Along the way, there are encounters with a number of individuals who give their opinions on the railways.

Although not claiming to be a formal history, the book's second strand gives a reasonably broad overview of the development of the railways, from the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, the burgeoning of numerous railway companies during the subsequent period of railway mania, their nationalisation in 1948, the widespread closures following the publication of the Beeching Report in the 1960s, and their re-privatisation during the 1990s. The various individuals behind some of the notable events, such as George Stephenson, George Hudson (the "Railway King"), Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Richard Beeching and John Major (under whose premiership the railways were privatised in the 1990s) are mentioned.

The book is critical of the long term policies regarding the railways, but perhaps the greatest anger is reserved for the privatisation during the 1990s. As a former civil servant myself whose department underwent a series of changes to government agency and then government owned company before being closed down, there are a number of familiar themes. These were the large sums of money paid to consultants, most of whom had no prior knowledge of the core business, prior to the re-organisation; the belief that pre-existing staff would be unfit to manage the new organisation due to their experience of public sector working; and all driven by what appeared to be political dogma that the private sector was better than the public sector.

Overall, I found the author's descriptions of his journeys charming and, although his personal view of the railways and their development is highly critical, he does provide considerable justification for his complaints.

Click here to order your copy: UK or US

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Review: Joe and Clara's Christmas Countdown by Katey Lovell

This Christmas she’ll give her heart to someone special…
As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O'Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she's determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he's hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara's Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe's broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe's love for Christmas and forever…?

Review: Oh this was just a big christmas hug wrapped up in a book! I love reading books about real people at christmas time. People who have families to support, people who have to keep working throughout the holiday season, people who work hard but play hard. And so I loved reading this book. Clara works hard and Joe provides the perfect excuse for her to start enjoying life outside of work as well and I just loved this mix. 

Of course a Christmas book should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but this book just feels like that extra tight squeeze as you're reading it because these characters are just so lovely. Not only are they trying to support each other in the run up to christmas, but they are also supporting their other friends and the local community too and I just think it is important to highlight how rarely we get to see this in a book, I loved that aspect! 

The storyline surrounds these characters giving each other gifts and taking each other on outings in the run up to christmas and i am sure that this author had so much fun thinking of the gifts they were going to give and the things they were going to do. I won't spoil anything but there are some really amusing gifts as well as some really really touching ones and so each new chapter brought he promise of a new gift for me as a reader, as well as for these characters. 

Obviously, from what I've already said, I loved these characters and they were a great vehicle for this story. I defy anyone not to fancy Joe and Clara is just so easy to identify with. I spent the whole book championing both of them and really wishing that they would get the happy ending that they deserved. This book is about more than Christmas and I think it would be great to read at any time of year, but if you can be reading it close to the countdown days, as the book progresses, then I would really recommend doing that. I loved this read and it is definitely one that should be added to you festive TBR immediately!

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

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Guest Review: Date with Malice by Julia Chapman

It’s dark in the Dales this winter . . .
When Mrs Shepherd arrives at the Dales Detective Agency on a December morning, quite convinced that someone is trying to kill her, Samson O’Brien dismisses her fears as the ramblings of a confused elderly lady. But after a series of disturbing incidents at Fellside Court retirement home, he begins to wonder if there is something to her claims after all . . .
With Christmas around the corner, Samson is thrown into a complex investigation. One that will require him to regain the trust of the Dales community he turned his back on so long ago. Faced with no choice, he enlists the help of a local – the tempestuous Delilah Metcalfe.
Against the backdrop of a Yorkshire winter, Samson and Delilah must work together once again if they are to uncover the malevolence threatening the elderly residents of Bruncliffe. Could the danger be perilously close to home?

Review: This is the second book in the Dales Detective series from Julia Chapman. I found the first in the series (Date With Death) very enjoyable and was looking forward to publication of this new title. As before, the action takes place in the Yorkshire Dales, an area of great natural beauty that I know well. Also in common with the first book, this one has a most attractive cover, illustrating various aspects of the story. 

This tale once again unites the characters Samson O'Brien and Delilah Metcalfe. Both have business premises in the village of Bruncliffe, where Delilah runs not only the Dales Dating Agency, but also a web design company. Samson has returned home to the village after a long absence to open the Dales Detective Agency. Mysterious goings on at the Fellside Court retirement home in the village bring the pair together when Samson is asked to investigate. In addition to Samson and Delilah, there is a delightful collection of elderly residents from the home and local residents from the village playing roles in the story, many adding a touch of humour. Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention Delilah's faithful hound, Tolpuddle the Weimaraner, who helps with the inquiry as well. 

I very much enjoyed this story. It drew me in from the start and kept me guessing all the way through with respect to what was going on and how it was all going to end. It was very skilfully written to put the reader off the scent at a few junctures. Of course, the lovely Yorkshire Dales scenery was brought to life in the narrative. Although not obviously a festive tale, it was nice that the action took place in the run up to Christmas, with all the preparations going on in the background. This would certainly be a good book to pop into someone's Christmas stocking, but don't forget to buy a copy for yourself as well. 

Click here to order your copy: UK or US

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders 7/11/17

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I often like to picture children I teach in their future careers. I've definitely taught some future teachers, some future authors and future leaders and so I think I do this when it comes to book characters as well. I'm not just talking about those who are already leaders either, but those who have the potential to be so...

In the most part it is the female lead who would make the positive leader:

(in this case it is daughter Lyla)

(Hannah Witton for President?)