Friday, 15 February 2019

Review: Words We Don't Say by K.J. Reilly

Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.
As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.

In this dazzling, hilarious, and heartbreaking debut, Joel grapples with the aftermath of a tragic loss as he tries to make sense of the problems he's sees all around him with the help of banned books, Winnie-the-Pooh, a field of asparagus, and many pairs of socks.

Review: I thought this was such a cool concept for a novel and just a bit of a concept for life really. I was totally drawn in by the fact that Joel puts all the things he can't say out loud for various reasons into these unsent texts on his phone. We might do the same thing through unsent letters or emails, texts are quicker and right there in your hand though, i think it's a great idea!

Of course there are deeper meanings to the fact that Joel has these unsent messages. I liked him as a character because he is SUCH and over thinker and so I could totally relate to him. I like the fact that he thinks about the people that he sees at the soup kitchen where he volunteers and he and his friends seem to think that this is normal-how open-minded! The other characters in this book are really interesting as well and definitely three dimensional enough that you could imagine them being there in real life. I could definitely picture Joel's family, his younger brother and his mother. And then Eli was a very interesting character as well. I definitely think there is more going on in her life and indeed her head than meets the eye so I would love to see something from her in the future, perhaps a sequel. 

I really like the fact that this novels covers things going on in real kids' lives. The fact that there is pressure to volunteer but maybe you just want to give your time anyway. The fact that kids are expected to go through grief and then just bounce back because they have tests and exams coming up and they need to get on with their college applications. This doesn't always work that way and I like that more and more books (like this one) are acknowledging that. This book also covers the fact that Veterans, specifically those with PTSD aren't given the emotional support that they should when they finish their service, again they're expected to just bounce back and slot into normal every day life again. 

Although this is a short book it packs a punch. Not every moment of it is cheerful and happy escapism but it is very real and it speaks to the reader honestly. There are definitely care warnings for grief and PTSD but other than that I definitely recommend it. 

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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Guest Review: Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

Heartwarming and joyful - the brand new romantic comedy from the Sunday Times bestselling author of THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING. An irresistible read for fans of Lucy Diamond and Katie Fforde.
'Mansell has delivered another winner with this compelling, thoughtful, emotionally intelligent book about love, friendship and not giving up' Daily Mail
Mimi isn't looking for love when she spends a weekend in Goosebrook, the Cotswolds village her dad has moved to. And her first encounter with Cal, who lives there too, is nothing like a scene in a romantic movie - although she can't help noticing how charismatic he is. But Cal's in no position to be any more than a friend, and Mimi heads back to her busy London life.
When they meet again four years later, it's still not to be. Cal is focusing on his family, and Mimi on her career. Then Cal dives into a potentially perfect new romance whilst Mimi's busy fixing other people's relationships.
It seems as if something, or someone else, always gets in their way. Will it ever be the right time for both of them?

Review: It’s always lovely to find a new book by Jill Mansell. I bought the audiobook of this one on publication day and have finished it in quick time. As usual with this author’s books, I found myself instantly immersed in the world of its characters and eager to move from chapter to chapter. 

The story revolves around Mimi, who is working very successfully in PR, sharing a flat in London with a long-time friend and dating her boss. However, when that relationship ends suddenly, Mimi retreats to the home of her father and his husband in the small Cotswold village of Goosebrook. She makes many friends there, and is particularly attracted to single dad Cal, but what with his family commitments and her career ambitions, things always seem to come between them. Mimi wonders if her feelings for Cal can ever be returned. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this story; it is, in fact, one of my favourites from Jill Mansell. It is at once romantic, amusing and truly heart-warming. I loved Mimi and Cal, and their misguided attempts to be doing the right thing, all the time keeping them apart. They are both thoughtful and caring people; Cal’s relationship with his teenage daughter would be envied by many fathers. The story is, of course, filled with many other lovely characters, many of whom add a touch of comedy by their actions. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a romantic comedy; it is a hard one to put down.

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

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Blog Tour: Review of From Mum with Love by Louise Emma Clarke

Mum of one, Jess, has had enough of endless diaper-filled days, and her husband Chris has just the solution to vent her frustrations – a blog.
Jess loves her daughter more than anything, but sometimes she just wants a little bit of freedom – some time for herself. Cue a laptop, a glass of wine and the beginning of a life-changing journey.
Overnight Jess's inbox is full of notifications and before long she is officially a 'mummy blogger', but this new life comes with its own set of rules and regulations. With Queen of the Bloggers, Tiggy, blanking her in public, people recognizing her on the street and her life decisions suddenly judged by strangers, Jess's idea of 'me time' is slowly becoming a full-time job.
Will Jess be able to find the right life/work balance? Or will she wish she'd never turned to a world online?
From the award-winning blogger behind 'Mum of Boys & Mabel'.

Review: I thought this was such a fun concept. It really is like reading a parenting blog and then reading the things that go on in Jess's life in between. Imagine if you could get inside the head of your favourite blogger and get their insight into everyday life and not just the picture and posts that you see online-tempting isn't it?

Because this book is structured blog post to blog post, it is definitely a quick read and because there is plenty of drama within the pages, this only adds to the pace of the story. I am definitely a fan of this structure. 

Jess is a great character to follow over the course of this novel because she is just like us. She doesn't have it altogether, she sometimes has irrational thoughts and fears and she is just trying to make it through the day. Ok I've been blogging longer than her but that's the only difference really! There are three other mummy friends of Jess who we get to meet in the story as well as a could of other parenting bloggers. I loved Jess's friends an their unconditional support of one another, it definitely made me miss my best friends! Of course we have Jess's husband and Chris and daughter Bella who have key roles to play in the setting up of her blog. 

This book is an open and honest as Jess is with her readers and so definitely reads true to life. The struggles that Jess goes through on an offline are very believable and very relatable and I enjoyed reading about them even if some of them were somewhat cringe-worthy and sometimes a little upsetting. I admit that I was jealous of the speed with which Jess's blog took off and the notoriety she achieved in the mummy blogging world but I definitely won't hold it against her. There were no major surprises in the storyline and I predicted quite a few of the key moments but that in itself was comforting, true to life and made me enjoy it all the more. I would definitely recommend giving this one a go. 

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

About the author

Louise's blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she's now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love is her debut novel.

 Follow Louise:  
Facebook: @mumboysandmabel
Twitter: @mumofboysmabel

Thanks so much to Louise for stopping by the blog today, remember to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive extracts, features and reviews!

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I LOVED with fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads 12/2/19

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.

I know I am doing this one a week early but I much preferred this week's topic so I'm going out of order...

I love the idea of this top ten as well and it allowed me to do a little delving into my reading habits!

Monday, 11 February 2019

Review: If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Audrey's family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.
As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Review: I should not have started this book before bedtime because then bedtime ended up being 4am with an alarm set so I could wake up and immediately finish reading this. This book covers so much: Family, friendship, love, loos, grief and honesty. I really didn't know which direction this book was going to turn in next, there is just so much depth and so many hidden messages throughout the novel. 

I loved the family featured in the novel. Audrey is mother to Lily and Jess and grandmother to Mia (Jess's daughter) and Phoebe (Lily's daughter). I love the fact that Audrey's pattern of two daughters is repeated with her having two granddaughters. They live so close to each other and yet are so far apart in so many ways. Although Audrey is the lynch pin of the story, the majority of the time we either see things from Jess's perspective or Lily's but we do sometimes have an Audrey narrative as well, just to add another layer to the events that unfold. 

There is so much grief and loss in this novel in so many different ways and I love the fact that this author shows how loss can affect people so differently and in just so many ways that may not become clear until a long while after the fact. We know that it can affect life choices and either bring people together or drive them apart. And then there is the loss that we can experience even when nobody has died, the loss that we experience through rifts in families or marriages and all of this is explored so tenderly and so beautifully in this novel. I expected to cry a lot but I didn't because I was marvelling at the clever way Hannah Beckerman has woven this novel with its layers and its mirroring of feelings and events, it really is a spectacle. 

I loved the setting of this story with so much of it taking place in one corner of London. It was easy to picture and easy to imagine these characters placed in that setting. There definitely is a care warning for grief and loss in this novel so make sure you are in the right place to do so before picking this one up. These characters became very real to me as I was reading, their lives and their unique perspective of themselves and each other and I imagine that they will stay with me for a while to come. This is a beautiful novel so full of real life and so full of loss but in a very tender and sympathetic way. I definitely recommend adding this one to you TBR now. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK (published 21/2) or US (published 10/22)

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Movie Reviews: Fevurary 3rd - February 9th 2018

Another Sunday, another lot of movie reviews. As always, I go into more detailed thoughts on my movie reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post once it is live so if you want a little more detail, give that a watch please and thank you!

I went to see this one because it is nominated in three of the Oscars categories and so I wanted to share my thoughts on it during my Oscars week videos. This is mainly set in Poland and France and I think its feels a bit like a mashup between Fame, Schindlers List and Breakfast at Tiffany's if that doesn't sound too far fetched. I liked the main female lead in this one, not the male lead. I liked the music and the romance and I hope I get to see more from this actress in the future!

This is the restoration of The British Museum's WW1 footage which has been restored and remastered and then cut together by Peter Jackson. I thought it was good and it was interesting but not anything super special. I didn't like where the lip readers had decided what the soldiers were saying and they'd then dubbed them but I thought the voice overs of the former soldiers of WW1 with stories were really interesting. I wish I had had this when I was learning about WW1 in school!

This movie was just really weird and I only stayed until the end because it was really cold outside and snowing and I wanted to wait it out until the roads got better. I thought this was going to be a romantic drama, it wasn't. It ended up being some kind of sci-fi thing or dystopian thing with a lot of over acting and not much plot. I don't recommend this one!

Blog Tour: Extract from Wildflower Park Part 2 (A Budding Romance) by Bella Osborne

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour today for part 2 of Bella Osborne's new series Wildflower Park. I loved this part and am happy to be sharing an extract with you all today so you can get a taster of just how wonderful this series is shaping up to be! Part 2 is out now and part 3 will be out next month. You can click here to order part 2 now. Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Here'e what it's all about:

Life’s not always a walk in the park…
When Anna is dumped by her fiancĂ©, she moves in to her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn't be falling for?
Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.
Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…

And here's that extract for you to enjoy!

But now we’ve said we’re boyfriend and girlfriend I guess we’ll have to keep it going.’ He scratched his chin and she noticed it was a little stubbly.
‘Or we could say we were joking.’ They both pulled faces knowing this would make them look ridiculous.
Hudson seemed to be thinking. ‘You never know. Now he thinks he knows secret information about us it could put him on our team, give us a chance to find out what he’s going to do to our project.’
‘Or he’ll try to blackmail us,’ said Anna. Knowing Liam, he was more likely to think it gave him some sort of advantage. Anna realised she was asking a lot of Hudson as someone who was already in a relationship. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t think about your personal situation. In fact, I didn’t think at all. If this makes you uncomfortable, I’ll put Liam straight.’ She shoved her hands in her pockets and turned to go.
‘Hang on,’ said Hudson and Anna spun around. ‘It is crazy but I’m guessing you’ll feel better having shown your ex you’ve moved on and maybe made him a bit jealous too.’ He gave a cheeky pout and Anna brightened.
‘I can’t lie, it would be a bonus.’
‘Then if you’re happy to pretend to be my girlfriend, I’m happy to be your boyfriend.’
She gave a slow nod. ‘I’d be honoured.’ Her voice held a hint of sarcasm.
‘Hey, I’m a very good boyfriend.’
‘I bet you are.’ A few unhelpful thoughts crossed her mind and she banished them. She felt like she was cheating on Sophie. It was bonkers.
‘Then let’s slay him,’ said Hudson, and he followed her back inside.
Anna was in her sleeping bag when she was disturbed by the sound of distant screaming and the light going on, which woke her with a start.

Thanks so much to Bella for sharing this with us today, I cannot wait to dig into part 3 soon!