Friday, 25 May 2018

Review: From Twinkle With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories to tell and universes to explore - if only the world would listen. So when nerdy classmate and fellow film-obsessive Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a film for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle can't wait.
The chance to showcase her artistic voice?
Dream come true.
The opportunity to get closer to longtime crush, Neil Roy-aka Sahil's twin brother?
Dream come even truer.
When Twinkle receives an email from a secret admirer - the mysterious 'N' - she is sure it's Neil, finally ready for their happy ending.
The only problem is that, in the course of their movie-making, she has found herself falling for Sahil - the wrong brother.
Twinkle soon realises that resistance is futile:

The romance she's got isn't the one she scripted...

But will it be enough

Review: Well this was just a delight of a book. I know it doesn't do to compare but I think I loved this one even more than I love When Dimple Met Rishi and I really loved that one so... This book has the same kick-ass female lead, a girl who is strong and sassy and just brilliant to read about. It also has a whole diverse group of characters who do things real teenagers do and have the same concerns real teenagers have. In terms of the characters in this book, Sandhya Menon just nailed it!

I loved Twinkle because she isn't perfect and she knows that. She has doubts and worries, just like the rest of us and just like the average teenage girl. But Twinkle has dreams and ambitions and she knows that she is going to have to work hard to make those happen. She really and truly cares about her friends and would do anything to help them out and she really cares about her family. I mean I loved the fact that she is from Colorado as well because I could totally picture the places that she was talking about. As a budding director, though, Twinkle is just spot on because she knows what she wants, and with time, she isn't afraid to ask for it!

I loved the premise behind this film as well, it has all the tropes I love. I really liked the fact that, once again, this author has not shied away from the use of technology in her novel. The world of film making and the power of YouTube is a great topic and I love the fact that all of the characters involved in Twinkle's potential film making are so passionate about films and the classic films in particular!

There is some gloriously cute romance in this book as well. Its not just Twinkle who is involved in a a 'will they/won't they?' situation, there are so many in this book, and wonderfully, this author really does make you wait until the very end for any kind of big reveal or satisfying conclusion. I was racing through the pages towards the end, desperately trying to find out how it was all going to turn out. 

This book is just perfect to add to your summer reading pile because it is just so sweet and so romantic but it has a real message of family and friendship in there, as well as a strong heroine who will encourage you to really chase your dreams!

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

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Bout of Books Day 7 Update and Wrap Up!

Sorry this one is a little on the late side but better late than never right?

So today was a pretty good reading day. I finished my audiobook-yey! That's another complete book for the readathon. I read the final 188 pages of The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody and let me tell you, I loved it! Seriously this was just a fabulous contemporary and I will be seeking out more to read from her because she is a new to me author!

I also read another 120 pages of Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square. I would have loved to have read more but jetlag is still poking me in the face so I fell asleep way before the midnight mark I was aiming for. By the time this post goes up I will probably have managed to reach the end!

So aside from the 406 pages of The Chaos of Standing Still, 320 pages of Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square by Heidi Swain, heres the wrap up of everything else I read this week...

I read the final 220 pages of The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill

I read the final 289 pages of Where The Light Gets in by Lucy Dillon

I read the first 70 pages of Tubing by KA McKeagney

I read all 96 pages of the final part of Random Acts of Kindness by Victoria Walters

Pages Read Today:  308
Pages Read This Week: 1400
Complete Books Finished: 2
Part Books Finished: 3
Books I decided not to finish: 1

I took part in most of the challenges this week and one of the chats. Normally I would take part in the first chat of the week and have to set my alarm for the second chat but this time the first chat was too late because I was on UK time and I woke up early enough to be like 2 hours early for the second chat because I was still on UK time but being back in Denver!

My secret challenge for the week was to read in lots of different places. I read on several different trains and several underground trains. I read on 2 planes and in 3 airports. I read in 4 different beds and 2 different baths. I read on 2 different continents, in 3 different time zones and read a combination of hardbacks, papaerbacks, ebooks and audiobooks. 

I took lots of pictures and videos so look out for a video wrap up on my channel soon and I will pop it below as well as soon as it is up!

I can't wait for the next Bout of Books!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Guest Review: A Country Escape by Katie Fforde

Fran has always wanted to be a farmer. And now it looks as if her childhood dream is about to come true.
She has just moved in to a beautiful but very run-down farm in the Cotswolds, currently owned by an old aunt who has told Fran that if she manages to turn the place around in a year, the farm will be hers.
But Fran knows nothing about farming. She might even be afraid of cows.
She's going to need a lot of help from her best friend Issi, and also from her wealthy and very eligible neighbour - who might just have his own reasons for being so supportive.
Is it the farm he is interested in? Or Fran herself?

Review: I was delighted to spot this new book from one of my favourites. Such a lovely cover too - fresh with pastel colours and communicating all things country. The milk churn with wildflowers spilling out of it on the back of the book was a clever touch. It proved to be a wonderful depiction of the story within. It was definitely one of those stories that, once started, kept me coming back for more. 

A letter from a distant relative has the main character in the story, Fran, leaving her comfortable existence in London where she is a chef to live on a rather dilapidated dairy farm in Gloucestershire. There is the possibility that she might inherit the farm from this elderly relative, Amy, if she can stay there and make a go of it for a year. This involves Fran in trying to come up with ideas to turn around the fortunes of the farm. She has help from best friend Issi when she can get away from her studies and from the herdsman, Tig. That's just as well, as Fran is afraid of cows! Amy has warned Fran to stay away from the man in the neighbouring house, but she is finding this difficult when he is also offering her assistance and happens to be rather gorgeous. Added into the mix is a somewhat unwelcome relative from Australia who suddenly turns up also hoping to inherit. 

This is a really captivating story oozing with the sights, sounds and smells of the country and farms. I was practically salivating with the descriptions of the cheeses Fran was making with apparent ease from the surplus milk produced by her herd of rather special cows. As so often happens when you finish a really good book, I was left with the feeling of missing the characters. I would recommend this delightful and entertaining story as a summer read or, indeed, for any time of the year. 

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

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Blog Tour: Extract From Ottercombe Bay Part 4 Shaken and Stirred by Bella Osborne

Today I am lucky enough to have an extract from the brand new Ottercome bay installment for you. This is the final part in the Ottercombe Bay series. I have reviewed all four parts of this series so you can read my thoughts here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and you can pre-order your copy of the full book, Coming Home to Ottercombe Bay by clicking here!

Here's what its all about:

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.
With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

And if you want to read a sample, here's that fabulous extract for you, thank you so much to Bella for sharing!

Daisy was looking forward to her night off; it had been a busy weekend so a Monday in the pub with Tamsyn was exactly what she needed. Actually, she would have preferred a bottle of wine at home but Tamsyn had been insistent. With only four weeks to go Daisy was getting demob-happy. The accounts were looking healthy and the solicitor had confirmed everything was on track to release the final instalment of her inheritance as planned. She was then going to put Locos up for sale, repay Aunt Coral and jet off to South America. Everything was coming together. She still had some niggles in the back of her mind, but that’s all they were. She wanted to do more travelling – it had always been her dream and nothing had changed, nothing at all. So why did she feel uneasy about moving on?
‘Slippers,’ said Tamsyn, as they walked in the warm evening air.
‘Yes,’ said Daisy, bracing herself for Tamsyn’s next question.
‘I mean, how dangerous do they sound?’ Daisy was frowning. ‘Imagine the inventor saying, “I’ve invented slippers, they go on your feet. Do you want to try them?” You’d think you were going to slide to your doom, wouldn’t you?’
Daisy started to laugh and Tamsyn continued. ‘And who was the cruel person that put an “s” in lisp?’
They were giggling as they entered the pub but Daisy’s laughter quickly faded when she saw who was sitting at their usual table.
‘Oh, no, Tams. I’m not spending an evening of awkwardness with Max,’ said Daisy, bolting for the door, but Tamsyn artfully blocked her.
‘Wait, please listen. It’s not about you and him it’s about me and Captain Cuddles.’ Daisy raised her eyebrows. ‘Because you two aren’t talking we have to see you separately and we feel we can’t mention the other one and it’s making us sad.’ Tamsyn’s face was brimming over with unhappiness making Daisy relent slightly.
‘All the trust has gone, Tams.’ Daisy looked across at Max; she wished that wasn’t the case but how could she even be friends with someone she no longer trusted and who had made her feel such a fool?

‘Please just have a drink with me and Jason. You can pretend Max isn’t there.’ Tamsyn’s face was pleading.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Dreaming of St Tropez by TA Williams

I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Dreaming of St Tropez by T.A. Williams which came out on the 7th May. I have an extract from the book for you to enjoy. If you like the look of that, you can order the book by clicking here. Here's what it's all about:

After a disagreement with a billionaire, architect Jess Milton is ‘let go’ from her job. However fortune intervenes – an elderly client asks Jess to dog-sit overweight, but loveable dog Brutus in St. Tropez.
Fed up with the mega-rich, Jess is reluctant to visit the playground of billionaires, but an all-expenses-paid trip and the promise of sunshine seals the deal.
Little does Jess know how much time she’ll be spending with the family living in St. Tropez. The sullen, but very good-looking David and his millionaire father are both welcoming but guarded, haunted by their pasts…
Can Jess bring some sunshine back into their lives – and, just maybe, find love in the process?

Like the sound of that? Here's an extract to whet your appetite just a little further...

‘Make sure you keep an eye on Brutus. Last week he stole a whole joint of roast beef, complete with Yorkshire puddings, and ate the lot.’
Once she had left, Mrs Dupont returned to the matter in hand.
‘You’ve probably worked it out for yourself from my name, but many years ago I married a Frenchman.’
Jess nodded and smiled. ‘Dupont doesn’t sound terribly English.’
‘He was a lovely man. I married him when I was twenty-two and, after a few years in London, we moved over to France. He came from a very wealthy family and we were fortunate in being able to choose where we wanted to live.’ She waved her hands vaguely around the room. ‘That’s why I’ve got all this now.’
Jess remembered what Hope had been saying about not all rich people being bad and nodded to herself. Mrs Dupont was a sweet old lady – money or no money.
‘Anyway, that was sixty years ago. My son still lives in France now.’ Mrs Dupont looked and sounded nostalgic. ‘Alas, Marcel, my husband, died ten years ago, and I’ve been on my own since then. Anyway…’ Jess saw her straighten up again. ‘Anyway, I’m digressing…’
‘Shall I pour the tea while you tell me all about it?’
‘Thank you dear, that would be kind. The thing is, the news here isn’t very good. I don’t know if you heard, but Glenda’s husband died rather suddenly two months ago, I’m afraid. It was a heart attack.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.’ Jess looked up from the cups. ‘So she’s left on her own?’
‘She’s got a daughter who lives in Canada but, yes, otherwise she’s very much on her own. Just like me really.’ She caught Jess’s eye. ‘Or, at least, we’ve got each other. She’s been with me for so long, she’s really become my best friend.’
Jess poured the tea and set a cup down in front of the old lady.
‘Would you like me to cut a couple of slices of cake?’
‘If you would, dear, but you’d better make that three slices.’
‘A slice for Mrs Forsythe?’
‘No, she can help herself later on. The third slice is for Brutus. He likes cake.’
Jess began to understand just why the Labrador was so podgy. Clearly, if he was feasting on slices of iced sponge cake, it was no wonder his figure was suffering. Mrs Dupont pointed at the dog, but not to remark upon his obesity.
‘Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Brutus. You see, I’m thinking about going off and doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and I thought I’d take Glenda with me for company, and as a treat to her.’
Jess took her own cup and sipped the tea.
‘And that is?’
‘A round the world cruise. My husband and I used to do a lot of cruising, but, since his death, I haven’t been away much. I thought to myself that this was the moment to go for it.’
‘And how long’s a round the world trip going to take?’
‘I haven’t booked anything yet, but the travel agent tells me these things last about three months.’
‘That sounds amazing. I’m sure you’ll love it.’ Inside her head, Jess was wondering how many thousands of pounds a trip like this would cost. Mrs Dupont was certainly providing her friend with quite a ‘treat’.
‘I’m really looking forward to it, but there’s a problem.’ Mrs Dupont looked down indulgently at the Labrador whose eyes were still trained on the cake, a small pool of drool forming on the floor in front of him.
‘The problem is that I can’t take Brutus on the boat with me. I’ve had him since he was a puppy – that’s almost five years ago now – and he’s as much my best friend as Glenda. I know I’ll miss him terribly and I really can’t countenance the idea of him being locked in kennels for three months. It would be like sending him to prison.’
Jess nodded sympathetically, but, inside, she was digesting the fact that Brutus was not yet five. With his excessive weight and his geriatric waddle, she had assumed he was twice that age.
‘I was wondering if you might be interested in a little proposal I have for you?’ There was a twinkle in Mrs Dupont’s eye. ‘Have you ever been to France?’
‘France? Just on a school exchange trip for a couple of weeks, years ago.’
‘Well, you see, my husband inherited the family home in France when his father died. He and I lived there for a good few years and it’s a lovely place. My son lives there now. As you were talking about maybe taking a holiday, I was wondering if you might like to do me a big favour by taking Brutus over to France while I’m having my cruise. My son says he can look after the dog, but, to be honest, he’s a bit absent-minded these days and I’m worried he might forget to feed him. I was wondering, in view of your present circumstances, whether you might like to look after him yourself and stay on for a nice long, restful holiday while you’re at it. After all, Brutus knows you and likes you.’
The dog, his eyes still trained on the cake, had now slumped down until he was lying on the floor, one heavy paw resting on Jess’s foot.
Jess nodded. ‘And I like him.’ She reached down to stroke his head. ‘That sounds like a wonderful offer.’ Her mind was racing. The idea of a three month holiday was really, really tempting, but the pragmatic part of her was telling her maybe she should concentrate on finding a new job. ‘So how would you suggest Brutus and I get there?’
‘Do you drive?’
Jess nodded again. ‘Yes… though I don’t do a lot of driving. Living in London, a car’s more trouble than it’s worth, but I’m sure with a bit of practice, I’d be all right.’
‘That’s excellent. The car’s almost new. I only bought it last year for Brutus’s sake. My old car was getting too small for him. Of course, I no longer drive, but Glenda’s husband used to drive it as and when it was necessary – since his death, it hasn’t been used. But the thing is, Brutus knows the car, and he knows you, so he would feel comfortable. So do you think you might be prepared to do that?’
‘I’ll certainly drive him over there and maybe stay a few weeks, if you’re sure I wouldn’t be any bother to your son.’
Mrs Dupont beamed. ‘Of course not. That’s wonderful, Jess. Thank you so much. You can stay in the guest house. It’s quite independent, tucked away in a corner of the grounds. We used to use it for guests, but he rarely has anybody visiting nowadays, and it’s been empty for ages. You and Brutus could stay there for as long as you like – hopefully all the time Glenda and I are away, if you like it and you have time – obviously free of charge. It’s a lovely place for a holiday. How would that sound?’
That sounded amazing to Jess. And, just in case she might have any doubts, the universe chose that exact moment to deliver a downpour of biblical proportions, reducing the view across the garden to a grey mist.
‘I should really be looking for a new job, but I suppose as that’s all online nowadays, I could do it from pretty much anywhere.’ Jess turned to Mrs Dupont with a smile. ‘And the idea of getting away from this weather is really appealing – specially on a day like today.’ She made a decision. ‘That sounds absolutely marvellous. I’ll be delighted to do it. Can I say I’ll definitely stay a month and, if all goes well, I’ll try to stay for the full duration? If not, I’ll happily pop back to bring Brutus home to you when you return from your cruise.’
‘That’s absolutely excellent. And, of course, do feel free to bring a friend, or friends, with you. Is there somebody you’d like to take with you to France?’
Jess had been thinking about this. ‘Yes, thank you, there is. My friend Hope deserves a holiday. She’s also between jobs so she could probably take a good long break as well. She and I are working for a dog-walking company at the moment, so she’s got lots of experience with dogs, which could be useful.’
‘That’s wonderful. Now, the cruise that interests me sails from Southampton right at the end of May. That’s in, what, just about four weeks’ time? Is that maybe a bit
short notice for you? Could you manage to get away so soon?’
Jess nodded. ‘Yes, I’m sure that would be all right. So, tell me, Mrs Dupont, whereabouts is your son living?’
‘You may have heard of it. It’s a nice little place on the Côte d’Azur between Toulon and Cannes. It’s called St-Tropez.’

Thanks so much to T.A. Williams for sharing that with us today! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Bout of Books Day 6 Update/Day 7 Challenge

Well today was mainly lost to sleeping! I think I still felt sick from the plane journeys but I also think I just really needed sleep so, as you can imagine, I didn't do a whole lot of reading!

I did manage some more audiobook because I could listen to audiobook whilst making a start on the unpacking/laundry that being away for 8 weeks brings with it! I listened to another 3 hours of The Chaos of Standing still, so another 109 pages!

Today's challenge was 'stretch your goals' so take a look at the goals that I set for the start of the week and see if i need to change them. Obviously there are 2 books on my TBR that I'm not even going to get to, so those are not even on my radar until next week anymore. I would still like to finish the books I'm currently reading though. That means finishing around 400 pages of the two books I started on my plane journey. 

I don't think I need to change anything in terms of the other goal I set for myself which was to document the places I've been reading this week. I'm happy with my progress there and I think I've even exceeded my own expectations!

I'd love to hear how your goals have changed over the week so definitely comment below or let me know on social media so we can compare!

Pages Read Today:  109
Pages Read This Week: 1098
Complete Books Finished: 1
Part Books Finished: 2
Books I decided not to finish: 1

Guest Review: Bobby on the Beat by Bob Dixon

It's time for another of my non-fiction guest review series. I hope you enjoy!

Bob Dixon spent years 'on the Beat' as a police constable in the Metropolitan Police Force in the early 1960s, witnessing all manner of incidents, from the serious to the ludicrous. Spending the majority of his time in London's infamous East End dealing with drunks, fatalities on the road, domestic disputes and even suicides, as well as policing at major public events such as Guy Fawkes night, New Year's Eve and anti-Vietnam War marches, life was colourful and varied, if not always safe. 

Bobby on the Beat is the true memoir of a real-life London copper, charting Bob Dixon's experiences as a young police officer before he joined the CID. The book covers his life before joining the Force, his rigorous training, the vagaries of first patrolling the Beat, the numerous accounts, sad and funny, of crime fighting in the capital, the lighter side of policing and how he feels the police force has changed since the 60s. Offering unique insights into a world many of us do not feel comfortable entering, Bobby on the Beatuncovers what life is really like for those brave few who help keep our streets safe.

Review: This book, sub-titled "Memoirs of a London Policeman in the 1960s", is the author's account of his fifteen years as an officer in the Metropolitan Police serving in the East End of London in the 1960s and 1970s. It describes his experience of the selection process, training, probationary years and some of the special duties he undertook during this time.

Since I grew up in London in the 1960s, I found the book to be a nostalgic trip back to my childhood, when the sight of policemen walking the beat was commonplace. The book describes such things as the striped duty armband that officers used to wear to show that they were on duty, as well as the origins of the term "Black Maria" to describe the police van attached to each station.

I found the book to be quite episodic, although the author has grouped the series of anecdotes into various chapters with different headings. At the end of the book, he reflects on the contrasts between policing in his day and modern policing. As a journey down memory lane to the 1960s, I would recommend this book.

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