Thursday, 25 April 2019

Review: Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

This audiobook was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Helen Ellis has a mantra: "If you don't have something nice to say, say something not-so-nice in a nice way." Say "weathered" instead of "she looks like a cake left out in the rain." Say "early-developed" instead of "brace face and B cups." And for the love of Coke Salad, always say "Sorry you saw something that offended you" instead of "Get that stick out of your butt, Miss Prissy Pants." In these twenty-three raucous essays Ellis transforms herself into a dominatrix Donna Reed to save her marriage, inadvertently steals a $795 Burberry trench coat, witnesses a man fake his own death at a party, avoids a neck lift, and finds a black-tie gown that gives her the confidence of a drag queen. While she may have left her home in Alabama, married a New Yorker, forgotten how to drive, and abandoned the puffy headbands of her youth, Helen Ellis is clinging to her Southern accent like mayonnaise to white bread, and offering readers a hilarious, completely singular view on womanhood for both sides of the Mason-Dixon.

Review: I read and enjoyed Helen Ellis's American Housewife last year and so I was excited when I heard that she had a new collection of essays coming out. If you enjoyed her last collection then you will be pleased to hear that this one is slightly less dark than its predecessor, but not less funny. 

I chose to do this one on audiobook having enjoyed the paperback of American Housewife and it was read by the author-what a treat! I love that Helen read this herself because she could really put the emphasis in the right places where she meant to be humorous and where she meant to be serious. Her anecdotes and personal stories sounded so great when actually read out by her so I can definitely recommend the audio in this case!

The stories are varied, this writer really does cover everything in a relatively short space of time and so there is something for everyone here. I could relate to some but not all of the essays and some were real eye openers for me, someone who hasn't travelled to the south or encountered too many ladies from that neck of the woods. I loved the story about the trench coat and definitely appreciated hearing about the etiquette of thank you notes. 

I laughed my way through this one on a flight between London and Denver and so where ever you are in the world I am sure that you will find Helen Ellis's Southern Lady Code just as amusing as me!

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

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Guest Review: The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant

The sky is cornflower blue, the air is scented with the smell of fresh apple blossom and Lizzie Lovell can’t wait to start her new life in the mill on Magnolia Lane. But is she just about to fall in love with someone she shouldn’t? 

When Lizzie loses her larger-than-life dad she doesn’t know how to move forward. Encouraged by a childhood dream she shared with her beloved father, she is determined to continue his legacy and moves to the old Mill on Magnolia lane, a place he had always longed to own.

Restoring the old windmill is a much bigger job than Lizzie bargained for, especially when she is distracted by her new next door neighbour Jude, who has temptingly twinkly eyes and a body to die for. But when Jude’s ex- girlfriend Harriet arrives back on the scene, Lizzie begins to wonder if life wasn’t far simpler before she moved to the mill. Especially when it emerges that Harriet knows something about Jude’s past, something that could shatter her new start and her heart into smithereens …

Review: I have been so looking forward to the new book by Tilly Tennant. She is one of my favourite authors; her books never fail to please. As I expected, as soon as I sat down to read this one, I was hooked and found it hard to put down. A lovely setting and marvellous characters - what more could you want?

The story has a cast of strong and interesting players, the central one being Lizzie Lovell. Her world is shattered when she loses her beloved dad, but she throws her energy as well as her savings into a project that she knows he would have loved - the restoration of an old windmill that sits on Magnolia Lane, near to the old fenland village of Piriwick. She soon realises that she has taken on a mammoth task, bigger and more expensive than she anticipated. However, it looks as though there may be some consolation in the shape of possible romance when she meets handsome neighbour Jude. Unfortunately, things are complicated there by the presence nearby of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. Lizzie is living in a caravan while the renovations are taking place, and is unexpectedly joined by her sister and then her stepmother. Things are getting pretty cramped, but Lizzie is beginning to realise that having family around her is really rather nice, in fact preferable to her idea of a quiet and solitary existence in her mill. However, with funds running low and a sudden tragedy in the family, Lizzie wonders if her dream of a new life in a beautifully working windmill will ever be realised. 

I have really enjoyed this story and would wholeheartedly recommend it to others. I greatly admired the main character, Lizzie. Her determination to carry out her scheme to restore the old mill in spite of her family’s objections and the problems arising when the work begins is commendable to say the least. She also shows great strength in not allowing herself to fall right into Jude’s arms when she has doubts about where he stands with his ex; his attitude at times made me feel unsure of his motives. Lizzie‘ sister, Gracie, is also an interesting character. I thought she was going to be a hindrance to Lizzie, but she actually had hidden depths, and often added a touch of humour to the story. The whole situation of more and more women arriving in the caravan was quite comical and had me chuckling to myself. On the whole lighthearted, the story also had some tragic moments, as happens in any family. This book was another triumph for Tilly Tennant, and one which I’m sure her fans and new readers alike will enjoy.

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

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Review: William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Mean Girls (Pop Shakespeare) by Ian Doescher

Power struggles. Bitter rivalries. Rampant jealousy. Betrayals. Star-crossed lovers. When you think about it, it s pretty surprising William Shakespeare DIDN T write Mean Girls. But at last, readers will be treated to the epic drama and epic hilarity of the classic teen comedy rendered with the wit, flair, and iambic pentameter of the Bard. The action unfolds as our heroine Cady disguises herself to infilitrate the conniving Plastics, falls for totally-off-limits Aaron, struggles with her allegiance to newfound friends Damian and Janis, and stirs up age-old vendettas between the factions of the high school. Bestselling author Ian Doescher brings his signature Shakespearean wordsmithing to one of the most revered stories of our time. Fourteen years after its release (feel old yet?) Mean Girls has become a cultural phenomenon and cult classic among generations of teen girls and other fans, and is more than apt for an Elizabethan makeover.

Review: I knew I was going to love this book going into it and I just had a really good time reading it. It is quite a quick read because it is written in script from but it can take a little while to get your head into the language form. Once I got my mind switched to Shakespearean language again, I was ready to go. 

I love how this book stuck to firmly to the film and it's script. It talks about when Cady first goes to the school and them getting her name wrong right down to the discussions the teachers have the asides that Cady does to camera. I think you do need to have seen the film to appreciate the pure genius of this one but then it is a great film and so it won't be too much of a hardship!

I also loved the illustrations in this book. Each scene has a printed page on one side and a beautiful header on the other and then there are other illustrations scattered throughout the play. The book tells you at the beginning as well where you can find each illustration which made it easy to go back and appreciate them once more. 

Some of the scenes from the film make for absolutely hilarious comparisons when translated into the language of Shakespeare and so this would make for an excellent gift for either a mean girls or a Shakespeare lover. It would also be an excellent gift to yourself to pick up when you fancy a chuckle!

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

Monday, 22 April 2019

Review: Too Much is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells

I was given a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

From the star of Broadway's The Book of Mormon and HBO's Girls, the heartfelt and hilarious coming-of-age memoir of a Midwestern boy surviving bad auditions, bad relationships, and some really bad highlights as he chases his dreams in New York City

When Andrew Rannells left Nebraska for New York City in 1997, he, like many young hopefuls, saw the city as a chance to break free. To start over. To transform the fiercely ambitious but sexually confused teenager he saw in the mirror into the Broadway leading man of his dreams.
In Too Much Is Not Enough, Rannells takes us on the journey of a twentysomething hungry to experience everything New York has to offer: new friends, wild nights, great art, standing ovations. At the heart of his hunger lies a powerful drive to reconcile the boy he was when he left Omaha with the man he desperately wants to be.
As Rannells fumbles his way towards the Great White Way, he also shares the drama of failed auditions and behind-the-curtain romances, the heartbreak of losing his father at the height of his struggle, and the exhilaration of making his Broadway debut in Hairspray at the age of twenty-six. Along the way, he learns that you never really leave your past--or your family--behind; that the most painful, and perversely motivating, jobs are the ones you almost get; and that sometimes the most memorable nights with friends are marked not by the trendy club you danced at but by the recap over diner food afterward.
Honest and hilarious, Too Much Is Not Enough is an unforgettable look at love, loss, and the powerful forces that determine who we become.

Review: Oh my goodness I loved this audiobook so much. I am an absolute sucker for a memoir that is read by the author. I just love to hear people talking about things in their own way and using their own voice and Andrew Rannells tells his story with humour and with emotion. I loved that he could emphasise points he wanted to make and change his tone when things became serious or sad. 

This book is not a complete memoir by any means so if you're looking for stories from when this actor was in Book of Mormon or Girls then these aren't coming quite yet, I really hope to get another book covering these soon. This is what it says right there on the cover, a memoir of fumbling towards adulthood. It love the fact that this covers growing up and family life in Nebraska, what being gay meant to him then and there. I also loved the fact that he is open and honest about how scary it was moving to New York and how alone he felt. 

Andrew Rannells is also very open and candid about his relationships before and during his time in new york and I just love how honest he is about every aspect of that. He shares moments of joy and moments of regret and I really felt every moment with him as I was listening to the book. I don;t think you have to be a massive fan of this actor to enjoy his book, I think that you don't necessarily even have to have seen him in anything. This is a great memoir, so open and yet so hilariously funny at times. I loved listening to this one and definitely recommend it as a contender for your next audiobook listen!

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

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Movie Reviews: April 14th-20th 2019

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 really enjoyed this movie. I love the two lead actors and they did a great job of playing out this true story. It is tough to watch at times but definitely worthwhile, highly recommend. 

I liked this film soooo much more than I thought I would. There were lots of laugh out loud moments but also lots of scary things. I would have liked the transitions between the two to be slightly less stark but I definitely recommend this one too!

I loved the message of acceptance in this film. There are some big names voicing the characters and again some laugh out loud moments. I would recommend taking kids to this one because it is sweet and lovely but also full of adventure.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Guest Review: Last Words at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

The final part in the brand new series from Holly Hepburn

The village of Little Monkham is reeling from their loss but gathers together to celebrate a life well lived. Behind the scenes, Nessie is struggling with a distant Owen and confides inLaurie about her tempting job offer. He offers to step up his role at the Star and Sixpence so that she can leave.

Gabe and Sam grow closer, although she still refuses to be anything more than friends and colleagues. Laurie’s behaviour causes Gabe to become increasingly suspicious and what he discovers causes a scene that turns more than one world upside down. Can Sam and Nessie work through the fall-out or is it really last orders at the Star and Sixpence? 

Review: This is the final part of the new four-part ebook series from Holly Hepburn concerning the Star and Sixpence pub in the village of Little Monkham, its owners and customers. I have been following and enjoying this series and a previous series about the pub from the very beginning. I was waiting eagerly for this final part to be released, and read it immediately it popped up on my Kindle on publication day, but feel a little sad that the story is now at an end. I shall definitely miss hearing about the goings on in Little Monkham.

In this part of the story, sisters Nessie and Sam Chapman are once again working together to make the Star and Sixpence the successful venue it has become since they took it over following their father’s death. Nessie is happily settled with boyfriend Owen in the cottage next to the pub, while Sam is living on the premises, as is Gabe, the pub’s chef. Sam is trying very hard to hide her feelings from him, and when her former boyfriend Joss is called back to help with the pub during their cider festival, tension increases in the household. Meanwhile, the girls’ long lost brother, Laurie, is causing them increasing worry as his attitude towards them and his work is changing for the worse. When things start to go wrong in the pub, everyone tries to figure out what is going on.

As with all the other parts in this serialisation, I found this a quick and easy read, but by no means lacking in depth and entertainment. I feel that I have got to know the Chapman sisters quite well now, and I was hoping for a happy ending for them both after the trials and tribulations they have been through. Holly Hepburn has certainly created an interesting set of characters in these books and I would love to stroll around the village and meet them all. She has also described a really cosy atmosphere in the Star and Sixpence pub; I can imagine how welcoming it would be on a winter’s evening to sit there by the fire. I can definitely recommend this book to other readers; for those who don’t enjoy serials, it is good to know that a paperback bind-up of all four parts will be available later this year.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday, 19 April 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Sleep by CL Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna.
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Review: Another absolute thriller from CL Taylor. I so enjoyed this story and just kept turning those pages until I reached the final one. I wasn't sure what was going to happen next or who was going to turn out to have ulterior motives. I really don't think you'll see any of the events of the book coming, it will definitely keep you guessing. 

Anna is a wonderfully vulnerable character. We know she had respect in her job but wasn't happy in her relationship so when she tries to escape her past, it really is open game as to who or what is stopping her from sleeping. I totally love Anna's work ethic, she really want to do a good job and has ambition and that makes her really easy to like. We know about some of the events from her past but not all of them and so she has an element of mystery about her as well. 

One of the other things I really loved about this novel was the setting. I enjoy a novel set in Scotland so much and so the setting of a remote island was just wonderful. Not only did the remoteness of the island provide so much tension for the events of the book, but it also allowed me to escape from my plane seat and be right there in the hotel with Anna. 

This novel has such a claustrophobic atmosphere to it because of the setting and because of Anna's sleep problem. I too did not sleep whilst reading this novel. I began to feel as paranoid as Anna, and being trapped in a plane seat really made me feel the urgency of being in a remote location like her. CL Taylor does such a good job of letting her words and her world come off the page and engulf the reader. I loved this book and would definitely recommend it!

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

Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more reviews and exclusive content!