Friday, 27 April 2018

Review: Puddin' By Julie Murphy

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
A story about unexpected friendship, romance, and Texas-size girl power.

Review: This is a companion novel to Dumplin' which I absolutely loved. It is not a sequel but we do get to visit with Willowdean and Bo and it is set in the same town of Clover City and features the same high school, all of which was great news to me! This book centres around two main characters, Millie and Callie who are almost polar opposites of each other. We met them both in Dumpln' and now they are back with their own stories to tell. 

Millie is just the most wonderful character to read about. She is so much fun and just exudes positivity and determination so I defy anyone not to fall in love with her and root for her as a character. Her friendship group is also made up of characters that we met in the first novel, people who are somewhat social outcasts at high school but band together to make their own kind of social standing. I just loved that about these girls. One of the thing I also loved about this group is how different all the girls are, this is certainly a novel filled with diverse characters. 

Callie is a diverse character herself because she may be pretty and skinny but she is not your typical white, blonde teen that we read about in so many YA novels. She also doesn't follow the rules. I loved the fact that she doesn't follow the rules just as much as I love Millie for following the rules right down to the extent that she doesn't swear. It is fabulous watching these two characters interact because thy are just so different!

As I have mentioned, one of the great strengths of this novel is the fact that it is filled with diverse young women. These women know their own minds and know the difference between right and wrong, even if they don't always choose the path that is right. There is more than one character of size in this novel as well which I was so up for, and they reclaim the word fat, there is a whole discussion about it and how they have reclaimed it and I actually applauded so thanks for that Julie Murphy!

There is some romance in this novel too, the kind of sweet teen romance that just made me want to curl up and gaze at the words on the page and coo over them all. The romance is very light so there is no worry of anything getting too hot and heavy. The friends in this book do talk about sex with one another frankly though, as teenagers do and I really valued their openness and their open mindedness. 

In case you can't already tell, I loved this book. I loved the plot and the characters and the diversity of the whole thing. You don't have to have read Dumplin' to enjoy this book but you will be spoiled for that novel if you read this one first, there's still time to enjoy that one before this one though-yey! I wish I had had this novel to read when I was a teen because I can see myself in some of these characters and I am sure you will be able to do the same. I highly recommend this novel, definitely go and pick this up as soon as it is released!

To order your copy, just click the link: UK (17th May) or US (8th May)

I also made a video covering my thoughts on this book as three others over on my BookTube channel. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Re-Reading Update

So at the start of this year I made a pledge to re-read a book a month this year. Last year I so enjoyed re-reading the I Heart Series by Lindsey Kelk that I wanted to do more re-reading. My BookTube friend Bethany announced that she was going to be trying to re-read more as well and was going to try and re-read at least a book a month so I thought I would do the same thing!

So the year didn't start off too well because I didn't manage to re-read anything in January-whoops!

February was more successful. I re-read How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. The first time I read this book I read the paperback, but this time I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Caitlin. It was awesome and I think this book was even better the second time around!

In March I re-read Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli ready for the film, Love Simon coming out! You can read my review of the book here. And I made a video of book vs movie over on my BookTube channel.

Then April was even more successful because I re-read 2 books this month, the first two books in the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. I would have carried on with the series but the next two books are in Denver and I am in England so... I loved re-reading these books but my are they dated, so funny to read about shops that no longer exist and a world without a lot of technology that we now take for granted when it comes to shopping!

Are you a re-reader or are you always trying to keep on top of new releases? If you can do both then please do tell me how its done!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Guest Review: The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

A slight change from my usual Wednesday guest review. Today I'm bringing you one of my usual Sunday reviews because I have been on quite a few Sunday blog tours of late. Sp if you've been missing your reviews of historical or sport-related books, here you go!

‘Captivate, kill or destroy the whole force of the enemy’ was the order given to the American soldiers.
THE FORT is the blistering novel from worldwide bestseller Bernard Cornwell.
Summer 1779.
Seven hundred and fifty British soldiers and three small ships of the Royal Navy. Their orders: to build a fort above a harbour to create a base from which to control the New England seaboard.
Forty-one American ships and over nine hundred men. Their orders: to expel the British.
The battle that followed was a classic example of how the best-laid plans can be disrupted by personality and politics, and of how warfare can bring out both the best and worst in men. It is a timeless tale of men at war, written by a master storyteller.

Review: Bernard Cornwell is well known for his historical action novels, particularly the Sharpe series set during the Napoleonic Wars and dramatised on television. This novel is set some 20 to 30 years earlier during the American War of Independence. In 1779, the third year of the war, the British established a garrison at Majabigwaduce on a peninsula in the Penobscot River in what is now Maine but was then the eastern province of Massachusetts. Their aim was to establish a base to protect British shipping between Nova Scotia in Canada and New York, still held by the British. A second aim was to provide a safe haven for American Loyalists, who did not seek independence but wished to remain loyal to the British Crown, many of whom had fled to that part of New England from Boston, Massachusetts to escape persecution after the American Patriots had taken that city.

Hence, a force of 750 British troops comprising two Scots regiments, supported by artillery and three Royal Navy warships, landed and began to erect a fort on the high ground, which they named Fort George in honour of the King. In response, the State of Massachusetts dispatched a fleet of over forty vessels, the largest fleet assembled by the Patriots during the War of Independence, to expel the British. These ships carried men of the Massachusetts Militia, the Massachusetts Artillery and Federal Continental Marines. Altogether, there were some 900 men, and the whole expedition came to be known as the Penobscot Expedition.

The book covers the events of the Penobscot Expedition, from the landing of the British, the dispatch of the Expedition, the landing of the Americans and the subsequent fighting that took place on and around the peninsula. The narrative follows both the American and British sides of the engagement and by doing so, Bernard Cornwell has attempted to give a balanced view of the War of Independence, certainly more balanced than that usually offered by Hollywood. He also provides a chapter at the end of the book, entitled Historical Note, discussing the events of the Expedition and its aftermath.

I found the story very exciting and was kept guessing about the outcome of the engagement until the dramatic climax. I particularly liked the way the story alternated between the two opposing sides and found that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. I should warn that it is not for the faint-hearted, since there are some very graphic accounts of the battle scenes.

Like much of Bernard Cornwell's work, the book is based on actual events and characters. Of interest are two famous individuals, one from each side. Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Revere commanded the Massachusetts Artillery during the Expedition. He was one of the riders dispatched in 1775 to warn the towns of Concord and Lexington that British regulars were marching from Boston, and is immortalised in Henry Longfellow's poem, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", published in 1861. Lieutenant John More was an eighteen-year in the British 82nd Regiment of Foot and first saw action at Majabigwaduce. He rose subsequently to the rank of Lieutenant-General, was knighted and died in action at Corunna during the Napoleonic Wars. Statues of Paul Revere and John Moore can be found in Boston and Glasgow, respectively, whilst the walls of Fort George can still be seen in what is now Maine.

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

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from The Fear by CL Taylor

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Fear by CL Taylor. CL Taylor is one of my favourite authors and she is definitely an auto-buy author for me! The Fear was published on 22nd March in the UK and you can read my review of this novel by clicking here!

Here's what its all about...

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

You can order your copy of The Fear by clicking here!

And now I will leave you with an extract from the book-so exciting! Don't forget to check out the other stops on this tour for more exclusive content!

‘Jay, where are you?’ a blonde woman called from behind him. A second later she hurtled down the hallway, knocking into the walls like a bowling ball thrown by a pre-schooler. ‘Oh, there you are.’ She looped her arm around his neck and peered out at Wendy through red-rimmed eyes. ‘Who are you?’

    Wendy tried very hard not to sigh. The woman was obviously drunk and, from the look of her grubby feet, she’d walked barefoot back from the pub. ‘I’m Jason’s next-door neighbour. I’d like you to turn the noise down please. I can’t sleep.’

    ‘But it’s his birthday,’ the woman wailed before she pressed her smudged lips against the side of his neck. ‘Don’t be an old killjoy.’

    ‘I’m not an old anything,’ Wendy said tightly. ‘But I’ve got work in the morning and I suggest you save your partying for the weekend.’

    Jay sighed. ‘We’ll turn it down.’

    ‘And spoil your birthday? No chance!’ The blonde waggled a hand in Wendy’s face. ‘You need to go home and have sex with your husband. It might loosen you up a bit.’

    ‘Lisa!’ Jay tried to extricate himself from her octopus-like grip. ‘You can’t talk to her like that. Sorry,’ he said over his shoulder to Wendy as he attempted to wrangle Lisa back down the hallway. ‘She’s a bit of a livewire.’

    ‘I’d rather be a livewire than a dried-up prune,’ Lisa shouted up at him. ‘I don’t want to get old. Not if I end up like her. Will you shoot me if I do, please?’

    ‘You’ll never be like her.’

    Wendy reached forward and tugged on the door handle of the open front door. The glass in the top panel shook as she slammed it shut.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Review: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront,and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be. 

Told over the course of a single day from three different perspectives, this is a story about the power of friendship and being true to who you are. 


Review: Do you ever read a book and think "this book was so clever, I wish that I had written it!"? Well this was one of those books. Firstly I love a book that takes place over just one day and secondly I love a book with multiple narratives and this fabulous book had both of those. This book is also relatively short which was very refreshing, I didn't feel intimidated by reading it and read it over the weekend which was just perfect! Safe to say, one of my favourite things about this book was the way it was structured!

The characters were pretty awesome too though! Firstly we have Freya who is definitely a celebrity. She is of Ethiopian origin and so I loved that diverse aspect of her character. She has a rocky relationship with her family and she has definitely lost her way. Then we have Harun, whose family is Pakistani. Harun has some secrets he is keeping, some of them even from himself. I like Harun a lot but found him a little frustrating, I wanted to jump into the book and fix him. Nathanial is definitely my favourite of the three characters here. He also has some secrets but we, as readers, get a little peak at what those might be. I also wanted to jump into the book and fix him but I had a little more faith that his new friends would be able to help him out with that so I wouldn't have to. I worried about him the entire way through, I think I felt a very motherly connection to him-oh dear!

Because this book is set over just one day, the storyline is pretty intense but we are treated to lots of flashbacks so each of the characters will have a chapter where we learn a little bit about how they lost their way. I loved this structure, as I have already mentioned and feel like these flashbacks gave the characters and the storyline depth. I couldn't directly relate to any of the reasons these characters had lost their way but because I liked all three of the characters, i definitely felt sympathy for them. I loved the structure of this book and the diversity of the three characters; it was  quick read and definitely something I would recommend picking up sooner rather than later!

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

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Man I Think I Know by Mike Gayle

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for Mike Gayle's new novel The Man I Think I Know. It was released in the UK on April 19th and the links to order are below my review!
Ever since The Incident, James DeWitt has stayed on the safe side.
He likes to know what happens next.
Danny Allen is not on the safe side. He is more past the point of no return.
The past is about to catch up with both of them in a way that which will change their lives forever, unexpectedly.
But redemption can come in the most unlikely ways.

Review: Now I love a Mike Gayle novel but I knew as soon as I started this one that I was in for something different, this was something extra special! This books lured me in right from the word go by being structured as a dual narrative. Both of our narrators are Male which is unusual for me, but I loved both of them and wanted to know everything about them as soon as they started telling their story. The title of this novel is so clever because it is them talking about themselves as much as it is them talking about each other, just mind-blowing!

I loved both of these characters because they are both such strong characters but they both have their flaws. I loved reading about people who aren't perfect because we aren't perfect and I love an author that tells the truth like that. James is a fabulous character because he had a life changing event and so her is very much starting again and forming a new life for himself. Danny is pretty much doing the same thing although for completely different reasons. They are connected in so many ways and on so many levels that I'm not even sure I have discovered all of them yet! They have both made questionable decisions and sometimes not been 'nice' to other people but it's who they are now that matters and boy are they learning that as well!

The story takes place as these two men become involved in each others lives but we get to know their individual lives as much as we get to know their lives together and so this storyline can get fairly complicated. It also deals with some difficult issues which may prove to be triggers for some readers so make sure you read the synopsis before digging in. I went in blind but I felt that the more troubling and difficult of the issues that these men have to deal with were dealt with incredibly well. I loved the narrative and I left this novel feeling totally uplifted and like I had gone through this journey with them. I loved this book and I now feel like there is some hope in the world!

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

Friday, 20 April 2018

Recent UK Book Events

Whilst I've been in the UK, I've been lucky enough to have been invited to some fabulous bookish events. I've also found some wonderful events using the Eventbrite app and so have been a busy book blogger/BookTuber of late! I have shared some video footage of these events with you as well so I will link those in this post or you can check out my YouTube channel to watch those in full!

UK Launch of Our House by Louise Candlish

The first event I was invited to was the launch of Our House by Louise Candlish. I was invited by Simon and Schuster to the event in Hatchards Piccadilly on the books's UK release day-5th April. The event had so many wonderful bookish people in attendance including so many lovely Simon and Schuster/Books and The City people, other authors, other bloggers and of course the wonderful Louise Candlish herself! You can order a copy of the book by clicking here!

I also shared some footage at the end of my review video for Our House

UK Book Blogger Awards and London Book Fair

The next events I attended were both part of London Book Fair which I was also able to attend this year. I attended specifically to go to the Book Blogger awards which I shared news of with you a few weeks ago. It was great to have book blogger finally recognised in their own awards ceremony. I don't think I would go to the book fair again unless it was to attend the awards again or if I had a reason to meet with specific publishers. It's definitely a site to behold but unless you have a meeting arranged its just stands as far as the eye can see!

The other event that was London Book Fair related was a London Book and Screen week screening of the movie Suffragette with a talk from 3 amazing women beforehand. Here's the video footage and a couple of clips from both of these events. 

Ruth Jones Never Greener with Chorleywood Bookshop

I then was lucky enough to get tickets to the Chorleywood Bookshop event with Ruth Jones in celebration of her new novel Never Greener. Ruth was interviewed by Hannah Beckerman and spoke of how the book started out life as a screen play, how she included some decent sex scenes in the book and the fact that the character Belinda is basically modelled on her from 1985. She had us all laughing and definitely convinced me to start reading the book, which is currently at number one, ASAP. As always Chorleywood Bookshop put on an amazing event, if you live anywhere nearby, definitely sign up to their mailing list! You can order a copy of Never Greener by clicking here

UK Launch of You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

Catherine Isaac launched her new novel You, Me Everything in Waterstones Liverpool One last night. She was interviewed by journalist and friend Dawn Collinson. She talked about the fact that she had changed her  name for this novel because it is quite different from the ten novels she wrote as Jane Costello; who she would want to cast in the main roles if the movie of the novel gets underway and what it was like writing about the relationship between mother and son as a mother of sons herself. It was a fabulous evening in a great venue and it was wonderful to see so many others authors there to support the launch of this book. If you want to see my review of this book, you can click here!

You can order a copy of the book by clicking here!