Friday, 21 September 2018

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Hollie Anne Marsh Author of Sweetbriars: Leaving the City

I am very excited to be part of the Sweetbriars blog tour today. Author Hollie Anne Marsh has stopped by the blog today to share her favourite character with us. here's what the book is all about:

A Tale of Sweetbriars
Welcome to the yard! Come and meet the girls… Cate, Tabby and Violet and their beautiful horses.

Leaving The City is the first book in the new Sweetbriars Equestrian book series, which is receiving wonderful reviews. It’s a great book for young readers and readers that love animals and horses.

About Leaving The City
Will Cate ever settle into living in the countryside?

Cate is uprooted from life as she has known it. Along with her family and her gorgeous palomino show horse Odette, she moves to a charming farm deep in the English countryside.

Cate is torn. Upon moving to horse heaven, she had to leave behind her best friend Beth and her beloved horse-riding instructor Bridget. On the other hand, she has fallen in love with Sweetbriars, the farm her family has bought to make their dreams come true.

Setting up an equestrian centre at Sweetbriars is fun to Cate, but settling into a new school and having a stern Pony Club riding instructor that teaches dressage is less so. At school, Cate makes friends with Violet, who is confident and wacky, and through Pony Club she gets to know Tabby, who is sweet and popular. The girls’ lives will be intertwined in ways they could never have imagined thanks to their shared passion for horses and Cate’s determination to make Sweetbriars a success.

You can order your copy by clicking here

My favourite character to write
It would be Violet. The first book has Cate as the main character. She is the daughter of the family who buy the Sweetbriars farm. She is quite sweet, sometimes lacks confidence after she is uprooted from everything familiar... but she finds strength and happiness through moving to Devon. Violet becomes Cate's friend, and helps her on her journey. She is sassy, confident, funny, and not ashamed to admit she is a bit of a novice ridier... she also has particular habits that the future books will reveal more about. She is the kind of friend we would all like to have. She has your back and isn't afraid to tell you what she thinks. I can't wait to write one of the next books with her as the main character. 

Author bio

Hollie is an Australian author who lives in Barcelona, Spain with her partner, baby boy, and Oldenburg mare, Frieda. After having a professional career, including creating the equestrian online shop Equiporium (since sold), working for many large multinational companies, and having a baby, Hollie reconnected with her passion of writing and finished the manuscript she wrote many years ago.

Hollie has been riding since she was a little girl, enjoying activities such as Pony Club, showjumping, eventing, and trail-riding in the great Australian bush. Hollie lived in England for almost ten years where she had two horses and trained them for dressage. 

The Sweetbriars series is inspired by all the special moments Hollie spent with horses... good, funny, and challenging moments!

In creating the new Sweetbriars series, Hollie hopes that readers will not only find the books fun to read, but they will also inspire readers to learn more about horses.   

Hollie's website:

Twitter: @Hollieannem 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Review: Christmas by Accident by Cameron Wright

Carter is an insurance adjuster whose longing for creative expression spills over sometimes into his accident reports. Abby works for her adoptive father, Uncle Mannie, in the family bookstore, the ReadMore Café. Carter barely tolerates Christmas; Abby loves it. She can't wait past October to build her favorite display, the annual Christmas book tree stack, which Carter despises.

When an automobile accident throws Carter and Abby together, Uncle Mannie, who is harboring secrets of his own, sees a chance for lasting happiness for his little girl. But there are so many hurdles, and not much time left. Will this Christmas deliver the miracle everyone is hoping for? Where love and Christmas are concerned, there are no accidents.

Review: Well this was just the kind of sweet and sugary story the likes of which you would find in movie form on the hallmark channel and it was just what I needed when I read it! This was definitely a quick read at just 240 pages but plenty of things happened in those 240 pages! The thing I loved most about this book is that one of the characters is a writer and one works in/runs a bookstore and so both the characters are my kind of people and I could get into their worlds and minds really quickly. 

Some of the events that happen throughout the novel are somewhat improbable if someone were to tell you they had happened to them in real life but in the context of a contemporary festive romance, you can definitely believe they happened. The characters, on the other hand, are definitely true to life. Abby is a very likable character, she is an optimist and obviously loves Christmas. She also believes that she can make a difference to people and their lives, which is such an endearing quality. Carter is the opposite of this, he really doesn't get on well with his job and is somewhat estranged from his family, he seems to like being alone but once you get him writing, its almost like he becomes somebody else-so fun to watch!

Uncle Mannie is a great secondary character and does have his own storyline. I didn't like him as much as the main characters just because he is a bit of a meddler and also someone who seems to want to bury his head in the sand. I would like to see what Abby would become if she didn't have him in her life, I really hope we get the chance to see more of that in a follow up novel. There are some pretty shocking events and accidents in this book so be prepared with some tissues but overall, the romance and the books and the Christmas spirit is lovely and this will make for a wonderful holiday read when things are getting hectic in the run up to Christmas. 

Thank you to my friend Bethany for my signed copy!

To pre-order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US (out September 25th)

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Guest Review: Summer at the Lake by Erica James

Lake Como - beautiful, enchanting, romantic...
For Floriana, it is the place where the love of her life is getting married to another woman. And she's been invited to the wedding.
For Esme, it is where, over sixty years ago, she fell in love for the first time. So often she's wondered what happened to the man who stole her heart - and changed the course of her life.
Adam is in danger of burying himself entirely in his work after his girlfriend left him. Could a trip to Lake Como be the distraction he needs?
Now it's time for each of them to understand that the past is not only another country, it can also cast haunting shadows over everyone's lives...

Summer at the Lake by [James, Erica]

Review: I have now read quite a few books by Erica James, and always find them most enjoyable. I saw this novel available as an audiobook, and, attracted by the synopsis as well as the author, decided to give it a listen. As with the rest of her books I have read so far, the story proved arresting right from the start, and I was soon pulled in. 

The narrative is split into two stories, one in the past and the other in the present, a format which I enjoy when well presented, as it is in this case. The main characters are: Floriana Day, a 31-year-old tour guide in Oxford; Adam Strong, a 37-year-old property developer and Oxford resident; and Esme Silcox, an elderly lady who has lived in Oxford for over 60 years. They are brought together by a nasty accident followed by a bit of a misunderstanding, but gradually become an unlikely group of friends. Floriana is invited to the wedding of the man she has always considered the love of her life. The wedding is at Lake Como, Italy, which is where, coincidentally, Esme spent some time in her youth and met a man she fell in love with, in fact her first love. It all seems like the perfect excuse for the trio to set off on an adventure and for Esme to relive her past. 

I would highly recommend this compelling story. There is a wonderful mix of romance, adventure, joy, disappointment and anticipation, all beautifully told by Erica James. I enjoyed finding out about all the characters as the story progressed.  Esme's tale from her early years was fascinating as I was transported around Italy. There was also a hint of danger there, which added an interesting different dimension. In the present day story, both Adam and Floriana were suffering from heartbreak, and I was willing them to get together. This is definitely a book you could read anywhere and any time and be transported into another world. 

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

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Book on my Fall TBR 18/9/18

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Well this list is going to incorporate some of my September TBR and some of my October and November TBR. I have a few book events coming up in the next couple of months so I am excited to get copies of some of these signed as well!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Review: Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.
Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism.
Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Review: I loved this book so much, I absolutely flew through it because it was easy to read but also because I was so invested in these characters and the story! Michael is a great character to carry this book, he has the same thoughts and fears of most teenagers and now he has been thrust in a new school, a school where Catholicism, a religion which he doesn't believe in is front and centre. He has issues with his family and the fact that he has moved so much to deal with at the same time and I liked watching the way he dealt with things that were thrown his way. It was also refreshing to have a contemporary young adult novel from a male point of view. I know there are plenty out there but there still aren't enough and I enjoyed having this different perspective!

Lucy is also a wonderful character to read about, she is a devout catholic and wants to be a priest but she is also a feminist and believes in the fair treatment for everyone. She has some skeletons hiding in her closet and I just loved how strong she was. The rest of the cast is made up with a diverse group of teenagers, all of whom bring something different to heretics anonymous, and I love how unique and interesting this author has made her characters. 

For a book based in a religious school, this book definitely doesn't side with one religion or another, which I was really relieved about. This author obviously has a deep knowledge and understanding of the catholic faith and the catholic school system because I have taught in a catholic school and a lot of it was exactly the same. There is also a lot of reference to teachings of the church that have been proven to be questionable or those which are open to interpretation and all in all, this side of the novel felt very well balanced. 

My takeaway from this book was that my teenage self would have loved it, a book set in a private school with a secret room where a special club meets to try and challenge the institution, its a winner for me. This noel was well-balanced with a great group of likable diverse characters and a strong message, It was a quick read and a really enjoyable one!

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

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Movie Reviews: September 1st-15th

So normally I only review the films I have seen in the cinema over the course of a week, but since I started out reviewing the first 7 Marvel films last time, I thought I would continue by reviewing the rest of the Marvel films I have seen and not all of them have been in the cinema, most of them have been on a plane!

I haven't quite finished the whole thing yet but I am getting close so I will make sure I review the final Marvel films that I watch, I don't start something and then never finish it after all (unless its a bad book, life's to short to struggle through bad books!)

I saw this in IMAX and 3D and I thought it was really good. I am still struggling with the 3D but I am seeing progression in the quality of the film and the special effects as the movies go on. I still really love Captain America's fight for good and against evil and I was really glad that some of the other characters feature in this film too. I feel like we got to see a little bit more of Captain America's history in this and obviously got to find out who The Winter Soldier is!

Of course I loved this one, I think out of all the ones I was going to see in the cinema as part of the IMAX marathon, this was the one I was looking forward to the most! This was also in 3D and you really got a good depth with the 3D I did feel like it was worth it! I loved Chris Pratt, and indeed all the other people in this film. I had seen the characters in Avengers Infinity War so I knew kind of how they tied together but the comedy and the music in this one made it really entertaining and really accessible and I like how it was almost a complete standalone, almost!

This was the first of my plane watches, having said that, the screens on Delta flights are really good so I do think the quality of this was still pretty high, but having watched the other 2 in IMAX and 3D the day before, obviously I could tell the difference. I really like the avengers films, I love seeing all the characters together and seeing how they interact with each other. I loved the bonds that some of the unlikeliest of them form and the way one strength compliments another. This one got quite destructive and I was glad to see some of this destruction acknowledged in future films...

Wow this one got really dark, I think this is definitely the darkest of all the films I have seen, I was really quite worried for everyone whilst watching this film. I hated seeing cracks form in the Avengers having just decided how much I loved them as a team. I like the fact that even though sides were formed, there are still a couple of rebels in the group. This film felt like it was definitely a bit of a stepping stone to something else. Although a lot of stuff does happen in this film and certain conclusions are drawn, I was watching thinking that they were setting up future storylines and future films. I didn't like how dark it was but I did like seeing the Avengers together in the loosest sense of the word. I watched this one on Netflix. 

This one was just really sweet, it was just so sweet and so lovely. I loved the relationship between Spiderman and Iron Man or Peter and Mr Stark, it was amusing but also so true to the way I think it should and would have been having got to know these characters from previous films. I liked the fact that Peter had to deal with school things and the usual teen stuff throughout the film as well, this felt very real. I also loved the setting and would love to see more of Spiderman with The Avengers! I watched this one on Sky Go.

Another one where I loved the relationship between the characters, this time Thor and Hulk. This one is recent enough that I remember seeing the trailer for it in the cinema and seeing that moment where Thor and Hulk come face to face for the first time again. I think this film had a lot of humour in it as well and I loved seeing references to other things that had gone on before and the relationship between Thor and Loki and Thor and Hulk previously. These later films seem to be tying things together from earlier in the story lines more and more and I am so here for that but it does make it more difficult if you haven't seen them all, like I was before I started this quest. I watched this one on the plane back. 

Then I jumped right into watching this one, back to back Marvel movies on a flight, there's a way to pass 10 hours! So I think that this one is probably my least favourite of those I have seen so far. I liked the fact that it felt a lot more like a standalone so you could see this one without having seen  the others. I did find myself drifting a little bit whilst watching this one and its not like I have my phone or other things to distract me, I was strapped into a plane seat. Just because it is my least favourite SO FAR doesn't mean that I didn't like it. I like the history it gave and the fact that it takes place in another location, I think these films are great for introducing you to new places. I also liked the importance of family in this film, I guess I just wish maybe Iron Man had made an appearance or something-ha!

And then I went straight onto Avengers Infinity War again which mad SO much more sense having watched almost all of the other films now. I knew who people were and I knew what the storyline was about. The other people they mention in the film also made sense because before when they were talking about phoning Steve Rogers, I had no clue of the significance of that/him and now I do, having already seen this in the cinema, obviously I knew what was going to happen but this time I did do a little cry! Whereas seeing it in the cinema, other people had talked about crying at it and I didn't but now I know why. This has also left me desperate for the new film, I get it now, and I'm so pleased I do!

I have missed out a few films and I am in the process of watching them and I do know that I have watched them out of order but I did consult my Marvel expert before doing this so I think I'm fine. I am halfway through Guardians 2 because I wasn't able to finish watching it whilst in the UK. I am also halfway through Dr Strange because i started it and then fell asleep thanks to jet lag! I have Ant Man on hold from the library and Ant Man and the Wasp is still in cinemas so I will see that as soon as I have seen Ant Man and I am literally about to watch Thor: Dark World on Blu Ray, this is the one I was supposed to see in IMAX 3D but I had to go home and go to sleep so I wimped out! And then I'll be done!

Friday, 14 September 2018

Guest Post: An Evening With Ann Cleeves.

On September 13th, Harrogate Library hosted this event, which was organised by the town's independent bookshop, Imagined Things. Ann Cleeves was promoting her latest, and final, book in the Shetland series, Wild Fire. This detective series has formed the basis of a popular TV show. 

Ann gave us a very enjoyable and entertaining talk in which she described the various points in her life which have shaped her writing career, including her introduction to the Shetland Isles, an area with which she has obviously become very familiar and is very dear to her. She read a few paragraphs from her first book in the series, Raven Black, and then the very start of this, the eighth in the series. Ann finished by kindly answering questions from the packed audience. I can't wait to get started on this final  Shetland mystery.