Sunday, 16 December 2018

Movie Reviews December 9th-15th

It's another movie reviews post. Next week and the week after will be my top ten best and worst movies I have seen in the cinema this year (inspired by Mark Kermode) and so normal movie review posts will resume in 3 weeks time. I'm not anticipating seeing an awful lot of movies in the next few weeks anyway!

As always, if you want more detailed thoughts on these movies, you can watch my movie reviews video which I will leave at the bottom of this post!

I finally get the hype! Obviously this film deals with horrific content but it was so engrossing, so moving and so entertaining at the same time, I didn't even notice it was over 3 hours long. If you've been avoiding seeing it like me because of the content, now is the time to take the leap!

This was a double bill with a Fraggle Rock Christmas special and was just so sweet and so festive. I had never even heard of it before but I really suggest looking it up because it was just really sweet and deals with what Christmas can be like if you don't have very much money. 

This is a re-release of Deadpool 2 which I really enjoyed but it set up like the Princess Bride in that Fred Savidge is in a bed and Deadpool is telling him the story of the film. There are a few bonus scenes, a few cut scenes and a couple of great tributes to Stan Lee so if you're a fan, I would recommend giving this one a watch!

This is one of my all-time favourite films so when I heard it was being re-release in cinemas for the 15th anniversary, I knew I was going to have to go. It was great seeing it on the big screen again and I did really well not actually quoting the whole film out loud, I just mouthed the words instead!

This was the only 'new relase' I saw this week and it was better than I was expecting it to be. Clint Eastwood is great and I liked his storyline, the police Storyline with Bradley Cooper wasn't as good but it added a sub-plot. I'm not sure the this film needed a sub-plot but it was definitely entertaining!

Here are my more detailed thoughts for you...

See you next week with my top ten worst films of the year so far!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Guest Review: The Romanovs: 1613-1918 By Simon Sebag Montefiore

Since I have a mega film reviews post coming at you on Sunday I have one of my usual sport and history sunday guest reviews for you today-what a treat!

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Montefiore's gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets. Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, THE ROMANOVS is at once an enthralling chronicle of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.

Review: This is a very comprehensive history of the Romanovs, the dynasty that ruled the Russian empire for 304 years from 1613 until the abdication of the last Tsar in 1917. I listened to this book in its audio version; the physical book includes illustrations, maps and a family tree showing the relationships of the various members of the dynasty.

A total of 20 Romanovs ruled the Russian empire during this period. The first of the dynasty was Michael I, who was elected Tsar by a delegation in 1613, and the final Tsars were Nicholas II, who abdicated in 1917 in favour of his brother Michael II who was Tsar for a day before he too abdicated. Both brothers were killed in separate incidents in 1918 following the Bolshevik revolution. Nicholas was murdered alongside his entire family, including his son the 13 year old Alexei, in the city of Yekaterinburg. The story of the Russian empire over this period is one of expansion, conquering vast swathes of land in Ukraine, the Caucusus and Siberia. Two of the rulers earned the epithet of "Great", these being Peter the Great, who expanded the empire to the Baltic Sea, and Catherine the Great, who expanded the empire to the Black Sea.

Russia did not develop governing assemblies in the same way as the rest of Europe, so effectively remained as a medieval autocracy until the dynasty was overthrown. The Romanovs ruled by having an inner circle of nobles to whom favours were granted in exchange for loyalty and military service. In this way, the Russian nobles could compete for these favours without having to resort to civil war. Therefore, the Romanovs were able to retain power until revolutionary fervour against their autocratic rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries forced their abdication and ultimate demise.

Simon Sebag Montefiore has used a number of new archival sources to bring to life in great detail a range of colourful characters and the often bizarre rituals of their courts. As expected, there is a greater volume of source material for the more recent Tsars, so accounts of their lives are more extensive than those of earlier Tsars, including extracts from some very racy love letters from one Tsar to his teenage mistress.

The author likes to draw comparisons between the Tsars and those who have ruled Russia or the Soviet Union since their overthrow. There is an epilogue to the book in which these rulers from 1917 to the present day are discussed. I found the book, despite its length, to be an interesting and very detailed account of one of the most successful ruling dynasties of Europe.

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

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Rosie Clarke Author of New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke. I have a guest post from Rosie for you today talking about writing series versus writing stand alone novels. The book is available now and you can click here to buy your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content. 

Here's what it's all about:

1943 Mulberry Lane, London. In the midst of another bleak winter, life is hard for the residents of The Lane.

When Rose Merchant arrives at Mulberry Lane, she is carrying a secret that haunts her. How can she tell her landlady and the Lanes’ matriarch Peggy Ashley that she is the daughter of a murderer? As Rose learns that she is amongst friends she gradually learns to trust and even to love.

But when Peggy's estranged husband Laurie returns home for good, both Rose and Peggy’s lives are once again turned upside down.

Can they both find their way through the heartache to find happiness?

Rosie says:
I am often asked where my plots come from and whether I prefer to write standalone novels or series. The answer is that I find writing series comes as a result of bringing the right characters to life.  Once you have people you really like writing about, then you want to go on telling their stories.  One off books are useful if you want to write something especially for Christmas or you’re trying out a period that you don’t know as well, because it gives you a chance to do things you might not be able to do in a series.

I was asked to write a Christmas book this year and the result was Christmas is For Children.  It was commissioned as a standalone and written as such.  However, I have already had readers asking if I’m going to write more stories for these characters.  I’m sorry to disappoint readers, but at the moment I haven’t thought about making this a series.  I am at the moment considering a standalone set in the period of the WW1 and that may well develop into a series if it comes to life with believable characters and a plot that will stand several more books. Also, another WW2 book with a different theme as it will be mainly set in the countryside.

 I think sometimes it is good to write the one off books, because not all readers follow all my books and perhaps it is annoying if you buy a book you think you will enjoy and then discover it is about number four or five in a series. I’ve done that myself and been disappointed. So now and then I write one for those readers who just want to read a book and not have to go searching for previous books.  At the beginning of Hetty’s Secret War – the third in the Women at War series – I’ve taken a brief look back at previous books in that trilogy so newcomers can catch up and readers who read the earlier ones months ago can refresh their memories.  I’m hoping that readers will find it acceptable and those who remember it perfectly do not have to read it!

I have almost finished book number five in the Mulberry Lane series and I am thinking of doing a sixth.  As number five is about the end of the war, I plan to take number six on a few years and then catch up on what has happened to the residents in the light of the eventful fifties.  It would be nice to hear whether readers would like to read the later book(s).  After that I’m considering another series with a central theme, but they are only fragments as yet, just beginning to take a shadowy form on the back burner of my mind.  It’s a bit like King’s Cross Station when all the platforms are occupied and other trains blow their whistles to let you know they’re on their way but are told to hold down the line and wait their turn.

I’ve always been a quick writer, though I do loads of revisions, and once I have an idea I start writing immediately.  Often, the first chapters will be erased or heavily revised, because they’re not right, but they sort out the gold from the dust.  As I’ve said in another blog post, it is the characters who decide what their stories will be and until I have them fixed in my mind I’m not always sure where the book is going.    So it is a case of playing about with words and ideas until they come into my mind and only when a first book is almost finished will I know if I need to make this a series and I’m lucky in that my publishers give me a chance to do both.

Whether you’re a fan of series or standalones, I hope you will try and enjoy my books.  

About the author

Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia. Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.

Follow Rosie
Twitter handle: @AnneHerries
Facebook: @RosieClarke

Thank you so much for stopping by today Rosie and sharing that post with us. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for reviews and more exclusive content!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Guest Review: Bittersweet by Veronica Henry

Curl up with a cup of tea and this delicious collection of short stories - a perfect slice of sweetness!
** Features an exclusive extract of her upcoming novel Christmas at the Beach Hut! **
A chance encounter on New Year's Eve brings one woman's dream alive; a woman begins her new life by the sea; and one strawberry tart can change everything...
From forgotten loves to second chances, new happiness and old friends, this is an uplifting and moving collection of short stories about how love changes, and how it changes us - from Sunday Times bestseller Veronica Henry.

Bittersweet: A short story collection plus extract of new novel Christmas at the Beach Hut by [Henry, Veronica]

Review: This ebook is a lovely collection of short stories from one of my favourite authors, Veronica Henry. In addition to the stories, there is a sizeable extract from Veronica's new festive offering, Christmas at the Beach Hut, which I have already read and can heartily recommend. 

The 7 short stories are each in some way related to Veronica's published novels, details of which are presented at the end of the individual story. The stories cover a range of situations, each showing the interaction between love and life. I enjoyed each and every one of them and I'm sure others will too, whether they are already familiar with the author or new to her work. An amazing bonus is that the collection is available to download free of charge. What a super Christmas present from Veronica. 

To order your free copy now, just click here!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Review: The City of Second Chances by Jane Lacey-Crane

Has she already met The One? What if Mr Right had come along at the wrong time...?
Evie Grant is forty-five years old, a widow, and single mum of two children about to leave the nest. Suddenly alone in the family home, Evie realizes she hates her job, hardly goes out and hasn't had a date since who knows when...
So it feels like fate when the opportunity arises for a girls trip to New York City. Staying with her sister on the Upper East Side, Evie is enchanted by a snow-covered city consumed by preparing for Christmas.
Bobble hat firmly on, Evie is walking through the city one day when she bumps into Daniel Roberts, Hollywood heartthrob and one-time boyfriend of hers.
It's now or never for Evie – but she open her heart to the possibility of a new beginnings and true happiness once again...?

Review: I am glad that I waited right up until Christmas time to read this book because it is well and truly festive and set in one of those cities where Christmas is super-magical. I just love love loved the setting and it was what really made it feel even more festive for me. If you like books with Manhattan settings then this is definitely one to go on your list, although I would love to know where the diner from this book is, it sounds great!
Evie is a great character to lead this book, its a bit like she has a clean slate. Her kids aren't at home anymore, she is a widow and she really needs to get rid of her awful boss and so she can really take you anywhere in this book, she has nothing to loose. Rachel and Kate are great supporting characters because they both have their own issues and we do see them work through those in over the course of the novel, but also they have been there for Evie before and they are ready to do it again! And then we have Evi's possible love interest who I am absolutely sure is actually Hugh Grant, he feels very like Hugh Grant and I pictured him as such when I was reading. I didn't warm to him 100% during the bulk of the story but I liked his ending...
There are a few subplots in this book that make it feel very real such as an engagement, trouble at work and a new friend met in a diner. Then there are a couple that provide reasons to go to New York that I would have liked to have seen developed a little more and left me with questions. I would have liked to have heard a little more about repercussions from Evi's job and also like to have been given an ending to the storyline involving Olivia. Aside from these points I thought that the secondary plot lines and the ending made the book feel very real and very festive. 
If you're looking for an ebook to download and enjoy over the festive period then I can definitely recommend this one. 
I will be on the blog tour for The City of Second Chances in a couple of weeks time so keep an eye out for the link on social media!
To order your copy now, just click here!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Review: Someday by David Lavithan

The sequel to the New York Times bestseller Every Day, now a major motion picture starring Angourie Rice.

Every day a new body. Every day a new life. Every day a new choice.

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn't anyone else who had a life like this.

But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to -- and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

In Someday, David Levithan takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the person they may think they know as Reverend Poole, exploring more deeply the questions at the core of Every Day and Another Day: What is a soul? And what makes us human?

Review: I was very excited to read the follow up to Every Day and the third in the Everyday Trilogy. I mean we all needed answers about what Rhiannon and A were up to now right? This was a great catch up with all your favourite characters from the previous two novels, including the wonderful Nathan and it was great to find out kind of 'where are the now?'. 

One of the things I first noticed about this novel was that it went a little more into their ins and outs of waking up every day in a new body. We discover this through a website that wasn't mentioned in every day and through a couple of new characters too. This novel, therefore, does become a little more sci-fi like because of the explanation about this concept, the discussion of what it means to get older and whether you can stay in one body for more than one day. 

I thought this novel did a really great job of catching up with the characters but not just writing off the history that has already happened and also the distance between them. A and Rhiannon don't even live in the same state anymore and so it wouldn't be realistic for them to have seen each other at all in fact. This jumps from where we ended in everyday and explores what's gone on in between times very well, 

This is definitely one of those sequels where you need to have read Every Day before reading but don't worry, if you've only seen the film then this will work as well! I definitely enjoyed this book, not as much as Every Day but it did give me the answers I was looking for and I think there might be more for A to say so I am keeping my fingers crossed for another book in this series!

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

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Movie Reviews: December 2nd-8th

In terms of movies this week I saw two new releases, got to see a classic favourite of mine on the big screen and then I'm giving a special shout out to a new addition to Netflix that DOES have a very limited release in the cinemas so...

As always, for more in depth reviews, go to my channel and watch my movie reviews video. I also have a book vs movie for the last one I talk about here if you're interested in that side of it. 

I walked out of this one. The acting was flat, it was pretty boring and I'm just not sure what it was trying to be!

This was great. I think it was better than the first because it had way more scope i.e. the whole Internet! There was humour, there weer messages about Internet safety, identity and friendship and it was just a jolly good time, highly recommend!

This is one of my all time favourite films and it was great to actually see it on the big screen. I wish they had done it as a double bill with you've got mail, now that would have been AWESOME!

This was such a feel good film and definitely captures the message of the book. There are quite a few differences between the book and the movie but I don't mind because this was just a fantastic movie in its own right and you will definitely feel uplifted after watching!