Friday, 21 July 2017

Review: Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

"Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing." Ellen Degeneres' winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously... I'm Kidding, Degeneres' first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn't want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

Review: This one has been on my wishlist for quite some time. Sometimes when you wait and wait and wait for something, when it finally comes, it can be a little disappointing. Unfortunately that was the case with this read. I chose to listen to this one in audiobook. I was hoping for something insightful, something I hadn't heard before but this was broken down into short chapters, some of them just as short as a single joke and the others merely an extension of the monologue that she does at the start of each show. 

There were moments in the book when I laughed out loud, there is no question that this is a very funny woman and I do find her stories entertaining. So if you are looking for some entertainment during a holiday or a long car journey then this is definitely going to be the book for you. Because this was an audiobook and is read by the author, Ellen does sometimes address the audience. I liked this style and found it particularly spooky when she was picturing us reading  or listening to the book and 'maybe you're looking at a view of the mountains in Colorado' I was driving along a particularly picturesque road in Denver, looking at the snow on the mountains!

I did enjoy the way the book was structured and I did find it entertaining. I would definitely recommend listening to this on audiobook because it is read by Ellen and so you will have the jokes told with her timing and hear the way she talks about the language that she uses. I was hoping for a little more with this read though and I really hope that Ellen will bring out an updated version or another version of her memoirs for me to really get my teeth into!

To order your copy and see for yourself, click here!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Blog Tour! Review: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

You'll find a warm welcome in the latest novel from Ali McNamara, bestselling author of The Little Flower Shop by the Sea and From Notting Hill with Love, Actually
One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there's a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.
'The Welcome House' is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there's always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor.
While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focussed on her work, she's remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.
But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious 'Welcome House'? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Review: I was so excited to read Ali McNamara's latest novel. It has been a little while since I delved into her world and it was so great to be back. The stories that this author writes are feel-good reads with strong female leads with just a little hint of magic about them. This was no exception 

When I mention magic, this might be the fates aligning or might be something more but it really does give you, as a reader, a true sense of escapism. You have to put real life and any sort of cynicism or disbelief you have to one side for the duration of the book and let this author whisk you away into her world. I read this book in just 2 sittings and I'm sure I can say the same thing about her previous novels too because they really do just envelope you and allow you to hide away in whatever world lie within for 300 or so pages!

This is a little bit of a spin off from the last Ali McNamara that I read 'Breakfast at Darcy's' and it was great to be back in Ireland again and to revisit some of the characters from that novel. This is by no means a sequel though and you can definitely read this book despite not having read breakfast at Darcy's. For fans of that book though, it will be lovely to be back in that setting and surrounded by the same kind of Irish legends that we enjoyed in the first book. 

I really enjoyed getting to know Main character Ren over the course of this novel. She is incredibly easy to get along with and easy to relate to because she is her own person and has her own business but we know she has been hurt in some way in the past and therefore has her guard up. I loved reading about someone so really and yet someone I could so easily see myself being friends with. She and her partner Kiki are on this journey together and I loved meeting Kiki too, she is definitely the Ying to Ren's Yang and so the two of them really work well as a team. If anything I would love to read a spin off finding out what happens to Kiki now this novel is over-please?

There are of course a few male characters to get to know in this novel too, always a happy co-incidence. I loved hotel manager Finn and his fabulous dog Fergus. He is very like Ren and so I had high hopes for the tow of them from the start of the novel-not giving anything away though! There are also some real characters in the village and possibly some people to help Ren along her way. 

This is the perfect summer read because of the location and the little touch of magic that lies within the pages and so i highly recommend adding this to your summer TBRs. I am sure you will have just as much fun as I did hanging out with Kiki and Ren and helping them along on their quest to find the perfect house!

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

Winner of The Little Kiosk by The Sea Giveaway

Congratulations to Julie who won my Little Kiosk by The Sea Giveaway!

Please get in touch via email or DM me on Twitter and the publisher will send you your very own copy of this fabulously summer book!

Thank you so much for taking part and don't forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Guest Review: The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin

The charming new bestseller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Canal Boat Cafe
Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.

Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.

As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?

Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Review: Another heart-warming story from Cressida McLaughlin, this time set in a little Dorset seaside town. Like her previous books, this one was originally published as an e-serial in 4 parts, but the whole story is now available in both ebook and paperback formats, giving the reader the choice. However, if you choose the ebook, you will miss out on the fabulous cover of the paperback, which feels nice as well as looking really attractive, and invites you inside to read about the marvellous seaside location it depicts. 

The lead female in the story is Robin Brennan, who has returned to Campion Bay to help her parents run their ailing guest house, having just folded her London-based events company. She realises that if it is to succeed, the guest house needs a complete makeover, and sets about making it into the most luxurious sounding destination, with some unique features. The seafront road where the guest house sits is also home to a few other businesses, the proprietors of which are all friendly and interesting characters. They include Robin's great friend, Molly and her daughter Paige, the father and son who run the Greek restaurant, and the couple who run the coffee shop. There is also a rather interesting crazy golf course on the doorstep. Of course, no romance would be complete without the addition of one or two eligible men around. Robin has the choice of her ex, Tim, and new neighbour, Will; they are very different, but I know who I would choose. 

This really is a lovely story. In fact, as it says on the cover in no less than three places, it could definitely be described as 'warm'. I found it easy to read, and the characters in the story were all believable and, almost without exception, extremely likeable. Unless Cressida actually found a hotel boasting rooms such as those Robin creates in the story, she has a great flair for design of which I am envious.  Of course, not everything is plain sailing for Robin and her friends, but the twists and turns are of the type that add interest to any narrative. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Review: Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…

Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.
Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.
Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.
With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?

Review: This book was such a fun read. It was full of family drama, work drama, relationship drama and then some. I love a read that is action-packed and fast paced like this but I need to have a character I can get along with at the heart of it all, someone to keep things a little grounded, and someone to champion and this book had that too. 

I loved getting to know Annie and it really did feel like she was Cinderella at the start of this book so I had to champion her, I didn't have the choice. Her mum is out of the picture, her sisters and her father are making her life a living nightmare and she is trying so hard to be the strong woman that she knows she really can be and say no to them but there are all sorts of family ties holding her back, including that prince charming she lost, the one who got away. I really did feel like Annie was easy to identify with, She was put upon but she had big dreams and I loved that about her, I got to know her right away and we stayed friends throughout the book!

The other characters in the book provide the drama and the comedy value. I loved Annie's boss Cassie and thought she was very grounding for Annie. But her Dad, her two sisters, her sisters in law and her cousin. Wow! So much drama here. If you could imagine it, it would happen to them and Annie was the one who had to sort it out. This is a character packed book and I have to admit that I did struggle to keep track of who was who in the beginning a little, but basically, if it was Annie's family, they were going to cause some sort of issue and that's all I needed to know!

There's a love interest of course, 'The One Who Got Away' and he comes flying back into Annie's life and I loved the romantic tension that this created. There are some classic, 'does he like me does he not?' moments and these were almost too much to handle. There isn't a steamy element to the romance in this book but fear not, there are some sweet sweet moments. 

I loved the fact that this book surrounded a film production and all the difficulties that come with that and it was a great setting for the book too, one that I haven't read enough of recently, so it felt new and fresh and posed problems of its own for poor Annie. Overall this was a really fun read. There are some great nods to Austen here, some funny moments and just the right amount of romance. It is fast-paced and definitely something to add to your beach reading this summer!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Review: Onward by Howard Schultz

n 2008, Howard Schultz, the president and chairman of Starbucks, made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became chairman. Concerned that Starbucks had lost its way, Schultz was determined to help it return to its core values and restore not only its financial health, but also its soul. InOnward, he shares the remarkable story of his return and the company's ongoing transformation under his leadership, revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity. 

Offering readers a snapshot of a moment in history that left no company unscathed, the book zooms in to show, in riveting detail, how one company struggled and recreated itself in the midst of it all. The fastpaced narrative is driven by day-to-day tension as conflicts arise and lets readers into Schultz's psyche as he comes to terms with his limitations and evolving leadership style. Onward is a compelling, candid narrative documenting the maturing of a brand as well as a businessman. 

Onward represents Schultz's central leadership philosophy: It's not just about winning, but the right way to win. Ultimately, he gives readers what he strives to deliver every day--a sense of hope that, no matter how tough times get, the future can be just as or more successful than the past, whatever one defines success to be.’

Review: I really wanted to read this book because of my interest in Starbucks. I was aware of the day that all the Starbucks closed so that staff nationwide could have training and what a bold move this was for such a massive company with as big a following as it has. I have read other books about Starbucks before and so I was keen to hear from the man himself-Howard Schultz-about his take on Starbucks past, present and future. 

This book is not necessarily a history of Starbucks and is definitely more suited towards people who want to learn the business side of the company than someone like me who is just a fan of what they do. But it was definitely interesting from a customer point of view, the moves they made within the company and the effect it had on me as one of their customers. I could see the new things that had been brought in, I remembered them hitting the market and the reasoning and research behind them being brought in was interesting to read about. 

What I also found interesting was the fact that this book does focus on the Starbucks right now and the Starbucks of the future, having read in other books and researched on the history of Starbucks in general. It was quite eye-opening to see Howard Schultz's take on where he sees the company going. What really came across was just how passionate he is about his company and how he translates that in everyday business. I think that anyone who sees Starbucks as a faceless corporation would definitely question that view when they read this. Obviously this was a few years ago now and so I would love to see an updated version come out or another book from Schultz because I found this to be an absolutely fascinating read!

To order your copy now, click here!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Guest Review: The Secret Listeners by Sinclair McKay

Follow-up to the bestselling The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, the hitherto-untold story of how young men and women across the world listened in to and intercepted the enemy’s radio traffic so that Bletchley Park’s codebreakers could turn the course of the war. Before Bletchley Park could break the German war machine’s codes, its daily military communications had to be monitored and recorded by “the Listening Service” – the wartime department whose bases moved with every theatre of war: Cairo, Malta, Gibraltar, Iraq, Cyprus, as well as having listening stations along the eastern coast of Britain to intercept radio traffic in the European theatre. This is the story of the – usually very young – men and women sent out to far-flung outposts to listen in for Bletchley Park, an oral history of exotic locations and ordinary lives turned upside down by a sudden remote posting – the heady nightlife of Cairo, filing-cabinets full of snakes in North Africa, and flights out to Delhi by luxurious flying boat.

The Secret Listeners: How the Wartime Y Service Intercepted the Secret German Codes for Bletchley Park by [McKay, Sinclair] 

Review: This book describes the exploits of the Wireless Interception Service, or Y Service, during the Second World War. This was a highly secretive organisation comprising armed forces and civilian personnel whose task was to listen in to encrypted enemy wireless communications, usually transmitted in morse code, and transcribe the sequences of letters that were being sent. These wireless intercepts were then submitted to the codebreakers at Bletchley Park. Hence, Y Service was responsible for intercepting and supplying the raw material to be decoded. However, the young men and women of the Y Service were posted not just to various listening stations around the United Kingdom, but to locations abroad nearer the front line, or even to an isolated island in the Indian Ocean.

The author, Sinclair McKay, had written previously "The Secret Life of Bletchley Park", so "The Secret Listeners" complements this earlier publication. It is based on archival material and interviews with numerous surviving veterans of Y Service. The book gives a fascinating insight of the work of this little-known organisation and the dedication of the operators who worked round the clock in sometimes difficult conditions to intercept and transcribe enemy communications.

Although I enjoyed the book, I do have a major criticism of the standard of proof reading since there are several obvious typographical errors. In addition, there are a number of glaring geographical errors, such as Harwich transposed from Essex to Suffolk, and Skegness transposed from Lincolnshire to Yorkshire. In addition, a map at the front of the book shows Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo in Egypt, transposed to Algeria

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