Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Guest Review: One Thousand Stars and You by Isabelle Broom

One spark will light up both their lives
Alice is settling down. It might not be the adventurous life she once imagined, but more than anything she wants to make everyone happy - her steady boyfriend, her over-protective mother - even if it means a little part of her will always feel stifled.
Max is shaking things up. After a devastating injury, he is determined to prove himself. To find the man beyond the disability, to escape his smothering family and go on an adventure.
A trip to Sri Lanka is Alice's last hurrah - her chance to throw herself into the heat, chaos and colour of a place thousands of miles from home.
It's also the moment she meets Max.
Alice doesn't know it yet, but her whole life is about to change.
Max doesn't know it yet, but he's the one who's going to change it.

Review: This is just my second Isabelle Broom book, but, after reading it, I am determined to catch up on the others I have missed if they can match up to this one in any way. I admit that I was not instantly drawn into this story, but once it hooked me I was lost in the world of its strong and interesting cast. 

The two main characters in the story are Alice and Max. Alice has begun to feel smothered by her over protective mother and even her long-term boyfriend, Richard. There is a girl inside who is longing for adventure and excitement, both of which are missing from her life. Much to the disapproval of others, she embarks on the holiday of a lifetime to Sri Lanka with friends Maureen and Steph to celebrate all of their 30th birthdays. Early in their trip, they encounter Max and his friend Jamal. One-time soldier Max was disabled while serving in Afghanistan, but has now recovered sufficiently to be seeking the same adventure from life as Alice. The two parties naturally join forces and we watch as friendships develop. 

This is a really wonderful story, expertly told. The way in which Isabelle Broom describes the sights and sounds of Sri Lanka has the reader transported there. It has obviously been really thoroughly researched. We are taken up mountains, travel on all sorts of modes of transport, stay in lovely Sri Lankan houses with friendly natives, eat local dishes and finally rest by the ocean. There is even an encounter with elephants.  If you had no inclination to visit Sri Lanka before, you certainly will after reading this book. Of course it isn't just a travel guide; there are the interactions between the characters. I really enjoyed watching as the relationship between Max and Alice developed and Alice began to appreciate how her life could change. Be warned though - it's not all fun and laughter; tissue box at the ready! 

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

Monday, 13 August 2018

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In this entrancing novel a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Review: Oh my goodness I loved this book way more than I thought I was going to! This book has been everywhere lately and I was worried it had been over hyped but I have enjoyed a book by this author in the past and so I decided I was going to see for myself. What I got was a great historical fiction novel with an awesome diverse cast of characters and a wonderful LGBTQ+ message at its heart. 

Evelyn Hugo is a great character to spend the course if this book with because she is just a larger than life woman who reminded me of the stories I had heard about Elizabeth Taylor the whole way through. She has come up through the ranks of Hollywood and has done everything she can possibly do, not matter how questionable in order to stay there. She has also experienced a great deal of tragedy and rejection in her life and she we instantly empathise and sympathise with her as a woman. 

Monique is also someone we can sympathise with as soon as we get to know her, she is a struggling journalists who lands the commission of a lifetime but she also has some darker secrets in her past and possibly some darker times coming up in her future. I really enjoyed getting to know her as much as I enjoyed getting to know Evelyn and I think the decision to run these two character's stories parallel was a good one. 

The way this book is structured means you keep reading on, wanting to find out more. I listened to this on audio and the two characters are well distinguished from one another. Because we have scenes from Monique's present day life and her interactions with Evelyn and then we have Evelyn recounting her past and the stories from that part of the book I found myself sitting in the car and listening longer than I perhaps should have or sneaking headphones out whenever I could so that I could hear more from these stories!

I loved this book, if you're not normally a fan of historical fiction, be reassured that you will enjoy this one. And if it is normally your thing anyway then I am sure that you will love this book. It has Hollywood glamour, drama and intrigue as well as stories of modern journalism and relationship dramas over time, i loved it!

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

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

Could you find your perfect man by looking at his book shelf?

'Frankie, think about it. Literature is your life. You've been trawling Tinder looking for well-read intellectuals, but it's not working. Let's shake things up! Just use your favourite books to find a man.' 

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.

With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little Brunswick Bookshop where she works, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back! 

But that turns out to be the least of her worries... In between crazy dates and writing them up on her blog, Frankie stumbles upon her perfect man. There's just one problem...Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it...

Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

Review: I just love a book that mentions other books and so a book that uses books ti find love-sign me up. This book talks about so many f the other books that I love and you can tell that these authors genuinely love books too because they talk about the intricacies of each and every one of the books mentioned in this novel like true book lovers. I may have done a little squeal every time some of the books that I loved were mentioned too. 

This is a fabulously funny love story. I laughed out loud and I also 'awwed' out loud because the book is just so sweet. Frankie is looking for love and using her books to help her. She has some wonderfully disastrous dates which really made me laugh and the way this character writes about them on her blog makes it even more amusing and relatable. There are also several, wonderful, grand romantic gestures scattered throughout the novel so you don't have to wait until the end to enjoy those!

Frankie is a great character because, not only is she a fellow book lover but she is also in her early thirties with a career path she hasn't exactly chosen and facing life as a single thirty something, very easy to relate to. Best friend Cat is also wonderful because she too has faults. The fact that she is pregnant add to some funny moments and some more emotional moments too. Seb and Claud, the other people who work in the book store with Cat and Frankie are great supporting characters and contribute to many of the lol moments as well as many of the aww moments. And of course there are the men vying for Frankie's romantic attention, but no spoilers here. 

One of the things that really gets explored in this book is how Young Adult fiction is viewed, particularly by fans of literary fiction, or the classics like Jane Austen. The books are very much looked down upon but a fan of Young Adult fiction does a great job of explaining just why these novels should be given so much more respect than they are in literary circles and especially just how relevant they are to the culture in which we live. I really really enjoyed this part of the book and may have done a little cheer whenever the subject was raised. 

Another aspect of the book that I really liked was the structure, I loved the fact that we got to see Frankie's blogposts and the comments that were left on them. I thought this was a really great way to add another level to her character and also the over arching storyline. I think that the use of social media added a great deal to my enjoyment of this novel. I would definitely recommend giving this on a read especially if you are a fan of hilariously embarrassing situations one moment and swoon-worthy romantic situations the next!

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

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Review (and event photos): Wilde About The Girl by Louise Pentland

Robin Wilde is acing life. 
After the year from hell, she's pulled herself up and out of The Emptiness, her love life is ticking along nicely, single motherhood is actually quite fun and she is ready for whatever life throws at her. When a thrilling opportunity at work arises, Robin is more than excited to step up and show everyone, including herself, what she's made of. 

But her best friend Lacey is increasingly broken-hearted about struggling to conceive, and her daughter Lyla is starting to come out with some horrible attitudes she's learning from someone at school. Is Auntie Kath hiding loneliness under her bubbly, loving veneer? And can Robin definitely trust the people she must depend on in her fab new role?

But Robin has her girls. And her girls have got her. Together they can handle any crisis. Can't they?

Life is about to throw quite the curve ball at Robin Wilde, and she'll need to make some pretty brave choices if she's going to stop everything she cares about falling apart . . . 

Review: I listened to this novel on audiobook and was pleased to discover that the notes from the author at the front of the book was actually read to me by Louise, it made it feel like a much more personal reading experience because she read that part herself and the narrator did a great job as well so my audiobook experience was a really positive one. 

It was great to be back in Robin's world again and of course its not long before things in that world start to go tit-up again and we would expect if we've read book one! I love the way Robin decides how to handle a crisis and the talks that she gives to herself before she goes and deals with something difficult or tries something new. This is one of the things I loved about her character in the first book and so I am glad to see she hasn't given this up in the time between the two novels. This is really what makes her such a like able character, she is just like you and me. She doesn't always relish trying new things and has to psyche herself up to stepping out of her comfort zone, she is a procrastinator and so she is just so easy to relate to. 

Of course we have plenty of mum action in this book too. One of the great things about the last book was that it shone a light on what feeling like a bad mum can do to you and the importance of having a support network and also being honest with other mums. We still have the posh school mums around in this novel as well as plenty of new things for Robin as a mum to deal with including some deeper subjects that Lyla has questions about. 

Speaking of deeper things, this book does get into some quite serious issues surrounding grief and things connected with grief and I thought it was handled really well. I was pleased to see Robin dealing with these things head on and having her as a vehicle for talking about these darker issues was great because it definitely softened the blow for the reader. Of course there is some romance in this novel, I'm sure Louise wouldn't want Robin to be without romance and I really enjoyed watching our main characters priorities in that area grow and change as the novel went on. There's also that great body positive message running throughout the novel just like in Wilde Like Me so we can all cheer about that!

There are some seriously funny moments. I laughed out loud, which is always even more hilarious when you're laughing at what's coming out your headphones, and these balance out the more serious things that Robin is being forced to deal with really well. I so enjoyed this novel, I read it in one sitting basically, and I would really recommend adding it to your summer TBR. Make sure you read Wilde Like Me first though so there are no spoilers, get the audiobook, it was great!

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

Guest Reviewer Linda, AKA my mum, went to a signing with the author in Sheffield and was kind enough to get me a signed copy of the book, so now I have the audiobook and a signed hardback edition of Wilde About the Girl to go with my audiobook and paperback edition of Wilde Like Me. I'm so excited about having the physical book in my hands! Here's some snaps of the even for you...

We also made a video review of Wilde Like Me, which we listened to together so take a look at that if you haven't already done so!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Review: The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

Six months ago, Virginia decided to ignore the ‘Fat Girl Code of Conduct’ she used to live by and make her relationship with Froggy Welsh the Fourth official. But now things are getting complicated. She’s not sure she still likes Froggy, her mum has betrayed her to the meanest girl in school, and her brother Byron – she’s not she’ll ever know how to feel about him. And then she meets Sebastian. He funny, sweet and he doesn’t want to talk about family, and Virginia’s fine with that. But then a terrible secret comes out that could ruin everything. 

Fifteen years after the publication of the acclaimed The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, funny, fierce Virginia Shreves is back for round two.

Review: I really enjoyed getting to hear more from Virginia and loved being back in her world. I read the 2 books in this series back to back and am really pleased that I did because jumping from one right to the other meant I just got the carry on the story five months after it left off. I read an early version of the previous novel and I understand that it has been updated in the last fifteen years but I found it a bit odd to jump from talking about Tower record and Sports Authority Gift cards to be talking about Brexit. So do be warned to read a later version of The Earth My Butt and Other Big round Things so you don't get the confusion that I had!

Catching up with Virginia was great and since she conquered the idea that fat people don't deserve love and relationships in the previous novel, we now see her with many more potential love interests, this added a whole other layer to the story. Her love of fashion and her ambition has also developed and so we get to have a lot more fun with the clothes that she wears and the adventures that she goes on- I loved it. 

This book does revisit the issues that came up with Virginia's brother in the first novel but things get a lot deeper and darker in this book so if you found that triggering then you should definitely heed the warning with this novel. I admire the courage of this author though to take that deeper and err on the darker side of things because it is something that needs to be talked about and as we know, that is not something that Virginia's family like to do!

I really enjoyed the fact that not much time has passed between the two novels but that Virginia has done a great deal of growing up in the times across the two books. This really reflects the rate of development during this pivotal time in any young person's life, things change just as much day to day when you are a teen as when you are a toddler and not enough books reflect that. I really recommend this book and reading both books back to back. I especially recommend this to people in the same situation as Virginia but if you are older than a teen and have ever been called fat as an insult then I know this will ring true with you as much as it did with me!

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

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Review: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen-year-old Virginia feels like a plus-sized black sheep in her family, especially next to her perfect big brother Byron. Not to mention her best friend has moved, leaving Virginia to navigate an awkward relationship with a boy alone. He might like her now . . . but she has her doubts about how he'll react if he ever looks under all her layers of clothes.
In order to survive, Virginia decides to follow a “Fat Girl Code of Conduct,” which works, until the unthinkable causes her family's fa├žade to crumble. As her world spins out of orbit, she realizes that being true to herself might be the only way back.

Review: I absolutely loved this book, I could just identify with this main character so so much. This author has done a great job of getting all those feelings we keep way down deep inside and putting them onto the page. Virginia is at a pivotal moment in her life and everything seems to be crashing down around her. It says so much about her as a strong lead character that she still manages to assert her own personality throughout the story despite everything that is thrown her way at the same time as having all the other problems that teenagers have to deal with. 

I think the fact that this book is set in New York means that the main character can be very independent and can go out and do things without anyone else in her life finding out. Had she grown up in a smaller town she would've been recognised at every turn and would not have had life changing thoughts when walking thirty blocks to go and visit her brother. 

There is a definite theme of family here. We have the notion that families aren't always as happy as they seem on the outside, that sometimes families let you down but that also they are our first loves and really do have our backs. Having said that, I really did hate the parents in this book, I wanted to jump into the pages and shake them. 

There is some awesome sounding fashion in this novel. If you are plus size then you will definitely recognise some of the fashion dramas that Virginia goes through but you will also be envious of her style. I loved the different ways she chose to rebel against her parents and the ways she knew when to hold back. There is also some romance in this novel. We get to hear Virginia's take on how fat girls ought to behave when they think there might be a chance at love. The notion of secret sex, being someones 'something special' behind closed doors but keeping that relationship a secret from the other people in high school!

I just thought this author did a great job of covering what its like to be a teenager AND a girl AND fat and all the issues that come with that at the same time as finding your identity in a family that are quite frankly trying at the best of times. 

Part 2 reviewed tomorrow!

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

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Guest Review: The Day You Saved My Life by Louise Candlish

A child falls into the river.
A stranger jumps in to rescue him.
And four lives are changed for ever . . .

On a perfect summer's day in Paris, tourists on the river watch in shock as a small boy falls into the Seine and disappears below the surface. As his mother stands frozen, a stranger takes a breath and leaps . . .
From the internationally bestselling author of Since I Don't Have You comes a spellbinding story of passion, heartbreak and destiny - an unforgettable novel about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the extraordinary ways that life and love intersect.

Review: Although she has written a few books since this was published, this was my first story by Louise Candlish. I listened to the audiobook version, mainly while sitting in the garden enjoying our amazing summer. It was lovely to be transported to Paris right at the start of the book, floating gently along the Seine, although what followed was anything but peaceful. 

Ostensibly, this is a story about a young boy falling into the Seine and the stranger who jumps in after him and saves his life. However, there is a lot more going on. The consequences of the stranger's heroic action are far reaching in the extreme, especially for the boy's mother, Holly, and the stranger (James) himself. Holly and her son are in Paris on a short break with Holly's mum, Joanna, in an attempt to alleviate Holly's post-natal depression. Miraculously jogged out of her depression, it is as if James has saved Holly's life as well as her son's. Holly's and James's actions after that fateful day affect many people around them. 

This was a story that drew my attention and had me returning to it hungrily each day. There was an interesting mix of the present and past in the narrative and hints of excitement to come in subsequent pages. The anticipated activity didn't always materialise, but the storyline was consistently strong. I was at no time sure how the whole saga would end, which I appreciated; so often one can predict the ending only a short way into a book. I am now looking forward to reading some of Louise Candlish's more recent stories. 

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