Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review: All The Good Things by Clare Fisher

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Review: Oh I so enjoyed reading this novel. This was one of those books that you read slowly because you want to savour it and take it all in. I haven't read a book like this in a while, i normally devour books so quickly but this one I kept having to put down to ponder and mull over in my mind. This book obviously had such a serious subject matter and is by no means light-hearted but I could see this happening in so many places I have known and in so many situations I have seen and so I could definitely relate, indirectly to parts of this book. 

I loved the premise behind this one. Someone in prison but being encouraged to note down the good things in her life. Beth is such an interesting character because she is most definitely old before her time and so some of the things she discusses with her counsellor and some of the things she has been through seem so much like things people would discuss who have lived a long life, or seen many things over their years on earth. Each chapter starts with one of the good things that Beth is discussing with her counsellor and they are written as if they are a letter to someone. We find out who that person is fairly early on but I won't spoil it for you!

Beth is such a complex character and definitely someone I can recognise. She has been through the foster system, she has been let down by the benefits system, she has fallen through the cracks and we are led to believe that this is why she did the bad thing. We don't find out until the end what that bad thing is, but i did begin to guess throughout the book. Part of me didn't want to find out because I had warmed to Beth so much, but I knew I needed to know and this aspect of the book is so beautifully woven into the story line and so well crafted. I think people will definitely have different opinions of Beth but I really warmed to her and I wish that I could have known her to support her in some way. 

Obviously this book deals with many many issues and many issues that people will not really have come across in their lives except for perhaps on the news. But these issues are woven into the story line amongst real things that we can all relate to. Our first job as a teenager, cinema outings and outings with friends when you don't really have enough money to afford them. Not living up to someones expectations and the fear you feel the first time you are truly on your won. For such  serious book though, this isn't a depressing or even a majorly heavy read. I really enjoyed it and thought that Claire Fisher dealt with these topics in such a sensitive way and just writes beautifully. I really enjoyed reading this novel and would encourage you to read it now. 

To order your copy, just click the link!  UK 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Guest Review: Ella's Ice Cream Summer by Sue Watson

Ella’s life just hit rock-bottom, but can a summer by the sea mend her broken heart? When life gives you lemons… make ice-cream!

Life hasn’t always been easy for single mum Ella, but she has just hit an all-time low; she’s jobless, loveless, very nearly homeless and, to make matters worse, now the owner of a pocket-sized pooch with a better wardrobe than her.

Packing her bags (and a bigger one for the dog), Ella sets off for the seaside town of Appledore in Devon to re-live the magical summers of her youth and claim her portion of the family ice-cream business: a clapped-out ice-cream van and a complicated mess of secrets. 

There she meets gorgeous and free-spirited solicitor, Ben, who sees things differently: with a little bit of TLC he has a plan to get the van – and Ella – back up and running in no time.

Review: Although Sue Watson has written a good few books, this is the first that I have actually read. It is the first in a series about The Ice Cream Cafe that sound perfect for a summer read. The title describes this book as a laugh out loud romantic comedy, but in addition to that it is a story with many other facets. I will admit that it didn't have me hooked right from the start, but I soon got engrossed in the story and finished it in quick time. It is a really heart-warming tale. The book has a really enticing cover, that speaks of summer holidays and days out at the seaside. 

The main character is Ella, of course - a 44-year-old divorcee caring for two teenage children and an ageing and sometimes forgetful mother. She has reached that stage many women will recognise where her kids are about to fly the nest and she is thinking 'what next?'. When she is unexpectedly left a legacy by an aunt she hasn't seen in over 30 years, things begin to take a turn in an unforeseen direction. From an uncertain future in Manchester, she decides on a completely fresh start, and is suddenly selling ice cream from a van in the sleepy little Devon village of Appledore and dreaming up the most delicious ice cream flavours. 

There is a great deal of humour in this book, mostly emanating from Ella's mum and her forays into the world of the internet, egged on by her grandchildren. Another character that made me laugh out loud was a Pomeranian dog fostered by Ella; this little canine had an enormous wardrobe with outfits for every occasion, and Ella was obliged to dress her appropriately. Of course, there was a bit of romance as well, courtesy of gorgeous Ben, a local solicitor. On top of all that, there is a mystery running through the book that Ella must solve. It kept me guessing!

In summary, I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. The only thing I would say is that it will leave you wanting to go out and buy an ice cream, or even experiment with making some yourself; a recipe is included should you be tempted. 

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

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Publication Day Spotlight: The Beta Mum Adventures in Alpha Land by Isabella Davidson

I haven't brought you a publication day spotlight for a while but this book sounded like something we would all like to read so I would like to share all the info with you and wish this author a very happy publication day!

Firstly how fabulous is this cover?

And here's what it's all about:

When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet, sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn’t know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha mums. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep. 

Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha mums?

About The Author

Isabella Davidson is the author of the popular blog, Notting Hill Yummy Mummy. Through the blog, she has written for The Times, The Saturday Times Magazine, Corner magazine and has also been interviewed by The Financial Times, The Spectator, The Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler and many more. 

Prior to her writing career, she worked for a humanitarian organisation in public education and awareness and as a doctor for the National Health Service. She loves to travel and has lived in seven countries on four different continents. She now lives in west London with her husband and their two children. The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land is her first novel. 

And click here to buy your copy: UK or US

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start but Haven't 20/6/17

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!

This is an interesting one. I can't remeber if I've done this before but it would defintiely intrigue me to see the difference now. I don't think I'll be able to come up with 10 but let's star with one I had been meaning to read for ages and have just marathoned...

Here's one I want to read:

Lorali: A colourful mermaid novel that's not for the faint-hearted by [Dockrill, Laura]

Aurabel: The edgiest mermaid ever written about (Lorali) by [Dockrill, Laura]

And another:

Jessie Hearts NYC by [Stainton, Keris]

Emma hearts LA by [Stainton, Keris]

And another:

The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson (Jessie Jefferson Novels) by [Toon, Paige]

I Knew You Were Trouble: A Jessie Jefferson Novel (Jessie Jefferson Novels) by [Toon, Paige]

All About the Hype (Jessie Jefferson Novels) by [Toon, Paige]

And another...

Johnny Be Good by [Toon, Paige]

Baby Be Mine by [Toon, Paige]

Johnny's Girl by [Toon, Paige]

And this one...

One Perfect Summer by [Toon, Paige]

One Perfect Christmas by [Toon, Paige]

And there's this one...

The Selection (The Selection, Book 1) (The Selection Series) by [Cass, Kiera]

The Elite (The Selection, Book 2) (The Selection Series) by [Cass, Kiera]

The One (The Selection, Book 3) (The Selection Series) by [Cass, Kiera]

The Heir (The Selection, Book 4) (The Selection Series) by [Cass, Kiera]

The Crown (The Selection, Book 5) by [Cass, Kiera]

And finally...

Dorothy Must Die by [Paige, Danielle]

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die Book 2) by [Paige, Danielle]

Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die) by [Paige, Danielle]

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die) by [Paige, Danielle]

Do you think I'll like these series? Is there anything else you think I should be getting stuck into? Let me know!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Review: The 12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, but when Lily’s beloved grandfather falls ill, the repercussions take their toll on everyone. Even though they are still together, somehow the magic has gone out of their relationship and it’s clear that Lily has fallen out of love with life.

Action must be taken! Dash teams up with Lily’s brother and a host of their friends, who have just twelve days to get Lily’s groove back in time for Christmas.

Review: Obviously this book is a sequel and so it is going to be hard to read without giving away any spoilers, but since the blurb of this book plainly states that Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, I know I can mention that at least. For starters I have to say that it was wonderful being back in the world of Dash and Lily again. I read the two books fairly close together and would really recommend re-reading the first book in this duology before reading this one, it'll be great fun, i promise!

One of the things I loved about the first book in this series was the description of New York City. I loved being in the city with Dash and Lily and this book has exactly the same quality. Because of the wonderful writing, you can totally picture yourself wandering around Manhattan with these two, wishing that you were hanging out with them in The Strand bookstore and I think that was why I loved being back in their world so much. 

These authors have also been very clever when it comes to the character development. These two characters were so popular from their first outing, it would have been a safe choice to keep them the same and just have them go about the same kind of adventure once more. But people change. Especially people who are in the formative stages of their lives, and I loved seeing how much these characters had changed and grown. This brought up conflict in both of their lives and so made for a more interesting story and that was great, but I still love both of them!

This is definitely one of those books where you have to have read the first book in order to understand this sequel, there is just no getting around it. I really don't think that would be a problem though because both of the books in this series are wonderful reads and I'm sure that reading the two back to back would be a wonderful experience for you. I loved both these books and would definitely recommend picking up this one immediately!

To order your copy now, click here!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Guest Review: The Kamikaze Hunters-Fighting For The Pacific 1945 by Will Iredale

I've got a new series of reviews coming up on the blog over the next few weeks. These reviews will be on historical or sporting non-fiction reads. This isn't something I would necessarily read myself but something my Dad is really into and so he has reviewed some of his recent reads for the blog in case we have any readers with a keen interest in either of these areas. This is the first review and look out for weekend posts coming up with a similar theme. Enjoy!

In May 1945, with victory in Europe established, the war was all but over. But on the other side of the world, the Allies were still engaged in a bitter struggle to control the Pacific. And it was then that the Japanese unleashed a terrible new form of warfare: the suicide pilots, or Kamikaze.
Drawing on meticulous research and unique personal access to the remaining survivors, Will Iredale follows a group of young men from the moment they joined up through their initial training to the terrifying reality of fighting against pilots who, in the cruel last summer of the war, chose death rather than risk their country's dishonourable defeat and deliberately flew their planes into Allied aircraft carriers. A story of courage, valour and dogged determination, The Kamikaze Hunters is a gripping account of how a few brave young men helped to ensure lasting peace.

The Kamikaze Hunters: Fighting for the Pacific, 1945 by [Iredale, Will]  

Review: This book is a factual account of the little-known exploits of the airmen of the Fleet Air Arm who flew with the British Pacific Fleet during 1945 until the end of hostilities in August of that year.

I was drawn to the book because my father served as a radar officer on an escort carrier in the British Pacific Fleet. It is an insightful addition to the bibliography of a relatively little-known aspect of the war in the Pacific. In fact, so few people are aware of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth's contribution to the naval war in the Far East that the British Pacific Fleet is often dubbed the "Forgotten Fleet".

Although the title suggests the main focus is on the Pacific campaign, the history of naval aviation together with the recruitment and training of the aircrew who fought in the skies over the Pacific and Japan are covered. Indeed, it is not until nearly halfway through the book that the creation and embarkation of the British Pacific Fleet is described.

The author, Will Iredale is a former journalist and the book is written in a journalistic language. Although not suitable for all of the sections, the style does lend extra drama to the accounts of the air strikes carried out by the young aircrew of the British Pacific Fleet and the deadly kamikaze attacks launched against the fleet's ships, in which the Japanese pilots dived their aircraft directly into the ships.

The book is based largely on interviews with survivors of the conflict and personal letters and diaries, together with research of official archives. As such, the account concentrates rather narrowly on a relatively small group of individuals and, in my view, would have benefited from a broader approach. Hence, the book focuses almost exclusively on the larger fleet aircraft carriers and it is not until the final chapter that that the smaller escort carriers are mentioned, and then none by name. In addition, I cannot agree with Will Iredale's description of First Sea Lord Sir Andrew Cunningham as a "pen pusher in London" when the latter had served in the front line during the First World War as a destroyer captain and, for much of the Second World War, was Commander-In-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. In this capacity, he had ordered the strike against the Italian fleet at Taranto, the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, which is mentioned in some of the early chapters of the book.

However, these are minor detractions and for the most part, I found the book an enjoyable and gripping read and an important contribution to the limited bibliography about the "Forgotten Fleet".

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

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Books I decided not to review recently...

There's such a stigma around not finishing (or in the blogging community no reviewing) books isn't there? People think that if you decide not to finish a book you aren't a good reader. Or it means that the book is bad. Or even that you're saying something awful about the author by not finishing it. Well I would really love if these views did not exist.

There have been a few books I haven't finished recently or have managed to get to the end but decided not to review but that doesn't mean that you might not like them. So I would like to highlight a few books I have passed on or decided not to do a full review of and I would like to say a little about each in case they really sound like your kind of thing. Now please be gentle with me because quite a few of these have been really well received by just about everyone else, so here we go...

I listened to the whole of this one and I loved the setting and the premise behind it. I think tat if you are someone looking for work in these difficult times then this will definitely resonate with you and if you love books about food and restaurants then you will appreciate this one. I didn't feel like the storyline went anywhere though and so that's why I decided not to leave a review. This book also made me worry I think perhaps in a 'children have so much potential' teacher way but this book wasn't for me. 

I really enjoyed the start of this book and it was definitely realistic of how people in neighbourhoods can gossip and point fingers. I really loved the fact that the book is predominantly from the point of view of two little girls as well, that definitely made the book feel less serious even though it is dealing with a serious issue. I could picture the time and setting but I just found my mind wandering whilst I was reading it. I'm not great with books set more than a couple of decades ago and so that's maybe why it just didn't pull me in but I ended up putting this book down after reading about 200 pages. Lots of other people loved it though and it is held with great literary esteem!

This was a collection of short stories and from the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books and so I was so sure I would love this one. Perhaps I went in with too high expectations. The great thing was that because it was short stories, I could read some of them and leave others that didn't grab me. I don't really have a full explanation of why some stories didn't grab me but I ended up leaving more than I read. If you are looking for diverse stories to dip in and out of then definitely give this one a go, I think maybe it just came along at the wrong time for me...

This book is a similar story. It is short stories about difficult women and the difficulties women have as well. I love this author and what she does and so I was so sure I was going to love it. I even had this one shipped over from the UK! But again some of the stories I loved and some I just couldn't finish. This could be the time that I was reading it and I would definitely still recommend someone picking it up but I think I'm going to leave this on my shelf for a little while longer, reading the stories one at a time and therefore I won't be writing a review for this one.

This one might be a little controversial, but I didn't like this read as much as I thought I was going to. I decided to do a bit of comparison between this and Carrie Fishers other memoir style books because I just didn't think that this one matched up as well to the others. I read this back to back with wishful drinking and I just feel like I got so much more insight into her life and her personality in that other book than I did with this one. To be honest I think that the whole selling point of this one were the chapters on Harrison Ford and this is just about all of the book. I wasn't as interested in that as I was in her but if you want to read about that then this book would definitely be for you!