Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Just a very quick post to wish you all a very merry Christmas! It's a been a great year and I've read some awesome books but interacting with all of you guys has been amazing! Authors, publishers, publicists, readers, fellow bloggers, you're such an awesome group of people and you're the reason I enjoy posting on this blog so much!

I hope you're all having a lovely and relaxing day and have received some fabulous books from Santa or that you're enjoying a favourite festive read in between Christmas dinners and selection boxes. 

I'll be posting a couple more festive reviews this week but as I'm on holiday you can expect a little less from me so my next post might bey wrap up of the year. 

So a very merry bookish Chrismtas to you all! 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michelle Gorman

Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?

Review: this was my first Michelle Gorman book/novella and it was a really good place to start in my opinion! This was a lovely tale for Christmas time and the perfect length to fit in at this time of year (I read it on the way to and from a party on tubes/trains!) it makes a good alternative to all of the sickly sweet stories around at the this time of year as well because this story gets a little bit dark In places and exposes the reality of things going wrong at this time of year! 

I liked lottie as a character, mainly because she just rolls up her sleeves and gets on with it, no questions asked, she also has extreme family loyalty to her daughter and to her aunt. She is very likeable and pret realm twist too. I found Danny a little difficult to believe as a character. I honestly am not sure that a real person would take the action that he did but I liked him all the same. The guests in the story play the evil pantomime characters and they are truly worthy of the hisses and boos! 

The storyline is funny and very fast paced, the length is just perfect, you will definitely find yourself wincing at some of the mishaps and laughing at the way Lottie tries to fix things. There is a strong message of family throughout the whole story, families of any kind and that is why it is perfect for this time of year! I really enjoyed this story. It wasn't too hard to handle for a busy time of the year and so perfect holiday reading! 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Review: Coming Home for Christmas by Julia Williams

These three friends are dreading Christmas …

Cat needs to get off the ‘has-been’ heap and rescue her flagging TV career but the demands of her extended family are reaching fever pitch and she barely has time to breathe. Meanwhile, Pippa has got too many balls to juggle as a struggling single mum trying to hang on to her family farm. And Marianne’s marriage is looking distinctly rocky now her beloved husband’s ex is back on the scene.

Happy Christmas? Forget it.
But Christmas is a time for miracles, and when the villagers learn they must fight for what they love, it becomes clear that there is festive magic in the air.
Suddenly for Cat, Pippa and Marianne, it’s looking like it might just be a Christmas to remember …

Review: before reading this book I didn't realise that it was the third book in a series of companion novels. I actually own the second book in the series as well so before reading this installment, I could've read the other two first but not realising it wasn't a standalone, i plough straight into this one. I actually reallyd din't like this book. I found it really slow and yet hard to follow at the same time because I felt it jumped around quite a bit. The book kept referring back to things again and again which i now realise is reference to what happened in previous books or a book but it does labour thew point that 'something' happened seven years ago rather heavily. other books in a series that I've read have given you a quick catch up or explained further what happened seven years ago but this book assumes prior knowledge and so I think it should be made clear that this book cannot be read a standalone. 

I think even if i had read the other books in the series though, i still wouldn't have enjoyed this book. I found the characters really hard to like, they just didn't endear themselves to me at all and i honestly don't think i could tell you anything about them now, having read the entire book apart from the fact that they have christmasey names and they're all just a little bit apathetic. I think that if the characters had been introduced to me gradually rather than just simply appearing in the novel then i would've felt a bit more of a connection to them. 

This book does have a large dose of festive cheer but it does cover other times of the year as well and also has flashbacks to Christmases past. I normally quite like flashbacks because it think they add depth to a novel but this one jumped around fair bit and so i found ti difficult to follow, i wasn't really sure who was who or what was what and so i think a little more clarity on the structure of this novel would've been helpful. I'm normally a massive fan of any Christmas novel because i love this time of year and i love reading about how other celebrate it in their own ways but this book really wasn't for me, i didn't gel with the characters, the storyline or the setting and despite having finished the whole book i really didn't find it memorable or particularly festive. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things to do in my thirties! 23/12/14

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I know its a different theme for top ten Tuesday this week but today is my thirtieth Birthday and I am celebrating by shopping in San Antonio Texas, as you do! I thought that since my Birthday falls on a Tuesday this year I thought i would keep it alliterative and go with top ten things to do in my thirties. I asked a few friends for help but I'm going to put the first one in...

1. Keep writing! I started writing during NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago and now I've really got the bug for it. I('m part way through something I'm really enjoying right now and to make wild statements like I want to get it published or I want to get a book deal would be unrealistic so I'm just going to set myself the goal to keep writing!

2. Tip number 2 comes from fabulous author Kat Black who wrote Melting Ms Frost...Good grief - you're 30? That's so incredibly old. What possible birthday wishes could I bestow on one so ancient? Well, before you slide headfirst into a world of dentures and Tena Lady, my tip would be to make the most of your prime by challenging yourself to actively learn or experience something new each year: no matter how big or small that thing may be. Take up a new hobby (train spotting? base jumping?); learn a new skill (arc welding? crotchet?); visit places you've never been; try food you've never tasted; have a go at an activity that you've never tried. Just one new thing a year - throughout your thirties and beyond - will keep you looking at the world through fresh eyes and feeling young at heart. Many happy returns! 

3. Number 3 comes from fab blogger Sharon at Shaz's Book Blog. She suggests travel...My suggestion would be to take a road trip to somewhere you've never been before. As I don't know where you have and haven't been in the past I'll make a few suggestions but part of the fun of a road trip is the spontaneity so apart from your start and end locations, try not to plan every day down to minute detail (although safety matters so you will need to do some research beforehand): 

  • Road trip through the North and South Islands of New Zealand (might need a long break and a lottery win to fund this one!)
  •  Travel along the East or West coast of America 
  •  Road trip around Hawaii
  •  Road trip through the Rocky Mountains
  • Take a European road trip - Pick a country/several countries and take a trip from one end to the other enjoying the scenery enroute
4. Tip number 4 is from the lovely Rosie Blake who wrote the most fantastic women's fiction debut this year How to Get a (Love) Life. Travel somewhere you have always wanted to go in the UK, old school style on a train with a fabulous book. OR start wearing hats more.

5. Number five comes from the lovely Pat on Twitter. She is author of Written in The leaves and she says... Here's one, related to eloquence for speaking and writing! Kissing the Blarney Stone ( at Blarney Castle, Eire)

6. Emma (@FunkyFairy22) suggested that during my thirties I should read one of the Long Classics such as Les Mis or War and Peace. I like the idea of this one because I've got a whole 10 years to do it after all!

7. Nicola Doherty, author of If I Could Turn Back Time and the Girls On Tour Series, suggested going on holiday alone, even for just a weekend. I like the sound of this and am planning a sort of grand trip next summer, perhaps a portion of that I should play Carrie Bradshaw alone in Manhattan...

8. @claire_reeder78 suggested that I go on a spur of the moment trip somewhere. I like the idea of this, I'll have to try and make time to make spur of the moment decision, not easy with the responsibilities that come the older you get but I shall make it happen...

9. I've turned to my other half for number nine, he suggested either growing a beard (which may well happen naturally) or else make time for old friends. I'm already pretty good at keeping in touch with them but making plans to see more of them would be really good and I really like this one. This could possibly extend to books as well, catching back up with old book friends who I have neglected to reread over the years-what do you think?

10. I'm going to come back to me for the last one, the final thing that I definitely want to do in my thirties, which all of these ideas will contribute to is to be happy. I would like to try and be happy as much as possible during my thirties, whether that means carrying out these ideas, being a little bit selfish sometimes or making decisions that I know will make me the happiest, this is something that I want to achieve in my thirties. 

As you read this hopefully I will be eating pancakes and drinking coffee and generally having a wonderful birthday in Texas. If you've got anything to add then please do feel free to leave any ideas in the comments, I'll keep you all updated via the blog and via the tweets as to how I am getting on with all of these. Hopefully right this moment number 19 will be going strong and I will be well on the way to number one, here's hoping! 

Review: The French For Christmas by Fiona Valpy

Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?
With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?

Review: I just love this author, I know when i want something that is fast-paced but action packed, comforting and yet makes you think, I can come to this author! This book has a little bit of escapism, a little bit of tragedy, a little bit of Christmas and a little bit of romance all rolled together in the perfect Christmas parcel. It has a really good balance of all these things and so if you're not a massive fan of Christmas books that are all about season's greetings then you will definitely love this book.

Evie is a lovely character, she begins the book a little lost at sea and not quite sure which direction she is heading in so she heads to France and that is where the magic really happens. She is a strong female lead, which i love and yet she does need some element of rescuing in this novel and that is where a certain handsome doctor comes in. Evie's story is slightly tragic and totally realistic and that's one of the things that makes this such a good read!

Fiona Valpy has such a way at describing the French countryside and the country cottages in the hills, you really feel as if you are there and in this novel you can literally feel every snowflake and every biting winter wind. The supporting characters in the book are all well-described and the festive feast in the novel is a character in its own right, you WILL want to have some brie to hand whilst devouring this one! This is a lovely read and definitely something you could enjoy for a little drop of Christmas at any time of year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Guest Review: It Must Have been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

Thanks once again to my lovely mum for this review, I need to read this book soon as she has been enjoying this and pushing it onto me! 

Thea’s parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea… even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea’s boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can’t decide whether or not she minds. 

There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements. 

As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?

Review: If you are looking for a story to make you feel all warm and Christmassy, this one should be a top contender. It is a tale of a Christmas house party full of interesting people, complicated relationships and even  surprise guests.

The main character, Thea, is a teacher recovering from a break-up of what she thought was a long-term, stable relationship. Her parents decide it would be a good idea to get the whole family together for Christmas, renting a large, rambling house by the sea in Cornwall. As well as Thea, there are her sister and brother and their families. We also meet the people who own the property, one of whom lives in a converted stable block alongside the house. Although Thea is the central character, the others are all strong as well, with their own interesting story lines which emerge as the tale progresses. Amazingly for a family gathering, there are only a few, minor disagreements along the way, even though the snow comes down in unprecedented amounts for Cornwall and it looks as though they may not be able to leave on schedule.

The story is full of images of yummy Christmas food and sparkly decorations. Of course, the mistletoe from the title is there too. Beautiful, snowy Cornwall scenery is so well described that you can imagine yourself walking along that beach or strolling along the country lane. When I finished the book, I found myself wanting to spend Christmas in that lovely house too.

As you might have guessed, I really enjoyed this offering from Judy Astley and highly recommend it for your Christmas reading list.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read in 2014 16/12/14

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This is the hardest one isn't it? It seems to soon to be doing this! What if I read something in the next 2 weeks that pips one of these for favourite book? I'm sure it won't because all of these books are so awesome! Please please please don't think that this top ten is in rank order, these books are all equal up there, I have loved all of them and love them all the same!

1. I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson

2. The Accident by CL Taylor

3. The List by Joanna Boulari

4. Wonder by RJ Palacio

5. The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

6. The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

7. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

8. A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

9. The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

10. Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey

These are literally just the tip of the iceberg! These are the books I have really pushed onto people. I can't believe this reading year is nearly over, there are so many more that I want to read, but it's definitely been a good one!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Review: Real Elves by Helen Smith

~ This is a short story ~

In a department store in London, a little girl called Sophie visits Santa’s magical forest with her grandfather. As they emerge from the forest, Sophie’s grandfather reports her missing… but the little girl’s right there. Is she a ghost, a twin, an alien abductee—or is there some simpler explanation? Twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles has fifteen minutes to figure out the puzzle before the police are called and Christmas is ruined.

REAL ELVES is a standalone story set in London. It first appeared in the anthology Naughty or Nice in aid of Kids Need to Read. The Emily Castles mysteries can be read in any order.

Review: Helen Smith is such a witty writer. The humour in her books is not deadly obvious, it is subtle and clever and that is what makes her books so enjoyable! This is a lovely festive short story, it will literally take an hour maximum to read ad is perfect for when you've been out in the shops at Christmas time because it sums up what those Santa's grotto sections of department stores are really like. 

These books always feature an elements of magic and mysticism and this little offering is no exception but its not so much that it will put you off if you're not a fan of a little bit of make-believe, perfect for this time of year really,. The storyline is well rounded and the characters are interesting. 

I expect that the characters would mean a little more if you had read the other Emily Castles books because I'm sure there are some inside jokes in there somewhere. I own the other Emily Castles books but shamefully I haven't read them yet. This definitely encourages me to do so because of the way that this authors writes. This was a refreshing break from some of the other Christmas novellas out there because it is something a little bit different and it is such a quick read, how can you not read it?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Review: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan

Curl up with Rosie, her friends and her family as they prepare for a very special Christmas . . .

Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

Treat yourself and your sweet-toothed friends to Jenny Colgan’s heart-warming new novel. The irresistibly delicious recipes are guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit and will warm up your Christmas celebrations.

Cover image

Review: I loved Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop of Dreams, it was one of the best books that I read last year and so I had very high expectations for this one. Unfortunately my expectations were not really met. I loved revisiting the characters and the settings, especially Lillian but this books had a completely different feel for me to the last book and that just made it a bit of a tricky read. I understand that books need to feel different from one another, the wold has evolved, time has progressed but i was expecting the same feel-good factor as Rosie Hopkins had and I just didn't feel it with this one.

It was great to see all the old faces again and find out how they were doing, what they were going to get up to next but some of the characters seem to have changed beyond recognition, especially Stephen from the big house. He seemed to thaw out considerably in the last novel but seemed uptight and distant once again in this novel. Lillian was a lovely as ever and she has her own love interest in this book, however storyline is very predictable and so really didn't add an awful lot of depth to the overall story for me.

There is a dramatic incident fairly early on in this book and, for me, it just didn't fit with the rest of the novel, it was as if someone else had written that bit or that it had been added in at the last minute, The incident itself had me feel anxious and worried for quite a large proportion of the book and not warm and cosy and comforted like the original novel did. I know I'm comparing again, but i think if you've read the first Rosie Hopkins book then that is something you will definitely do. This book would work well as a standalone though because you are reminded of scenes and story lines from the first book, this could be a little patronising if you've marathoned the two books together however...

I did finish this book and I enjoyed how everything came together at the very last minute and I will definitely be reading The Christmas Surprise which is the third book in this companion series but it just didn't live up to my expectations. Perhaps if you do read this as a standalone or if you're not a big Jenny Colgan fan then this book will hit your festive read buttons but it really wasn't for me and I'm a little disappointed that it didn't seem up to the usual Jenny Colgan standard. There is certainly the right balance of festive cheer versus realistic storyline though and so this book should definitely be read at this time of year!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Review: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Are you #ShoutingBack? 

After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called 'everyday sexism' to raise the profile of these previously untold stories. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she'd initially thought. Enough was enough. From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had become normalised. Bates decided it was time for women to lead a real change. Bold, jaunty but always intelligent, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by this juggernaut of stories - often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant. 

With an Introduction by Sarah Brown, this book is a manifesto for change; a ground breaking, anecdotal examination of sexism in modern day society. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.
Everyday Sexism

Review: everyone needs to read this book now! I knew I was looking forward to reading this book but I seriously don't know why I left it so long! I have been aware of the project and the Twitter feed for the project for some time and I had seen this author doing various bookshop tours and appearances on TV but I really wish I had read this book sooner just so I could've been pushing it on people sooner as well.

I struggle to say that i liked this book because I did like it, I enjoyed reading it and hearing all the stories and statistics and found it hugely interesting but I don't like the content of the book. This isn't because it isn't well put together or because it isn't a fabulous read which everyone should buy or at the very least add t their wishlists right now, but its because I find it very sad the amount of sexism that people tolerate, irnore or are completely unaware of. So I love the book and loved reading it but I don't like the fact that it had to be written.

The structure of this books makes for a very easy read. Each chapter has a theme and that theme is explored through entries to the Everyday Sexism projects, statistics and analysis by Laura Bastes. Its the perfect formula and means that every aspect of that particular chapter is explored thoroughly. The Author's voice is strong but not judgmental. It must have been incredibly hard to pull this off without making tons and tons of judgments and coming across as very one-sided when it comes to sexism but this book explores all aspects of sexism including sexism combined with other kinds of prejudice and discrimination and the sexism that men face and the way they feel about sexism directed towards females.

The thing that stuck with me the most having read this book is the aspirations of young people, especially girls and the sexism they face when deciding what they want to do with their lives. As a teacher, I now feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to ensure that the young people I come into contact with realise that they can to anything that they want to do and that they should make it happen!

This book should definitely not be confined to the female audience or to those who would consider themselves a feminist. It is such a brilliant read because of how informative it is and once read, you will definitely feel fired up! If you haven't already done so, this book needs to be added to your basket or at the very least your wish list because it is one of the most important books you will read this year!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: Jenny Lopez Saves Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

Jenny Lopez has had a crappy twelve months.

Determined to turn her festive frown upside down, she plans an escape to a cabin in Vermont, the best Christmas tree the world has ever seen and more bottles of champagne than is legal to transport across state lines. Someone’s got to cheer up her best friend Angela’s holiday season.

But nothing goes according to plan,starting with work and ending with her travelling companion, and before she knows it, Jenny’s Christmas is looking shaky. But this is Jenny Lopez. She’s going to have the best Christmas known to man and she’s not prepared to accept anything less, even if it means dragging a turkey three miles in the snow. Even if it means chopping up her beloved Christmas tree to start a fire.

Single-handedly and in an inappropriate outfit Jenny Lopez is determined to save Christmas. Whether it likes it or not.

Review: I literally couldn't wait for this fabulous novella to come out, I love jenny Lopez, I love Christmas and I love everything written by Lindsey Kelk so you can see why I would be so excited. This novella is a little different because this is written from Jenny's point of view and we don't normally heard from jenny in the first person that is probably because Angela is usually the star of the Show and so it is more about her but this is all about Jenny and she really doesn't hold back on any subject. 

This novella has just the right amount of festive cheer versus festive humbug and so it will appeal to all of you out there in that sense, whether you are a love or a hater of all this Christmas. There are dilemmas that jenny has to face, things she has to overcome and men she has to try and date. There is also a massive helping of New York city which is awesome and we get to see a bit of Angela, Erin, Sadie and a few other recurring characters. 

You will definitely find yourself racing through this book because it is just such a fun read, everything is really pacey and yet it has the right amount of substance for a full novel, considering the fact that it really is a short story. The opening and the ending are fabulous and fans of Lindsey Kelk will be able to hear her usual voice and comedic charm as much through this novella as through her full length novels. This book could totally be read as a standalone although it would give you a couple of spoilers for the I Heart Series. If this is your first Kelk read you won't be disappointed and if you're a fan of Ms Kelk and Ms Lopez, you'll be in your element with this read!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: new to me authors I read in 2014 9/12/14

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I read so many new authors this year, sometimes just one book and sometimes many b ooks by that author once I discovered them! I had to look through my 'read books' to see which authors wree actually new to me this year because once I read a book I fall in love with, I feel like I've been reading that author forever.  A lot of the authors on this list are YA authors. I've been reading more of a mix of YA and romantic comedy this year and so a lot of new authors are also from new genres. I'll get on with my list shall I?

1. Stephanie Perkins (Anna and The French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After)

2. Gayle Forman (If I Stay & Where She Went)

3. Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor and Park, Landline and Attachments)

4. Robin Talley (Lies We Tell Ourselves)

5. Cally Taylor (The Accident)

6. Hannah Beckermen (The Dead Wife's Handbook)

7. Giovanna Fletcher (Billy and Me/You're The One That I Want)

8. Fiona Harper (The Little Shop Of Hopes and Dreams)

9. Carys Bray (A Song For Issy Bradley)

10. Ella Harper (Pieces of Me)

I could go on and on and you will more than likely find some of these authors in my top ten of 2014-exciting!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: Yes Please! by Amy Poehler

In a perfect world . . .
We'd get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we'd all be friends with Amy - someone who seems so much fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn't ask for). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved Saturday Night Live alumni, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as an acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she's not available for movie night.

Luckily, we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy's hilarious and candid book. A collection of anecdotes, essays, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of America's most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy's thoughts on everything from her 'too safe' childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and showbusiness, the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has 'a face for wigs'. A delight on every page, Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by.

Review: I was so looking forward to reading this book and let me tell you, it did not let me down. I have found that I enjoy reading autobiographies in audiobooks form and so I downloaded this one using one of my audible credits and settled back for an entertaining listen on my commute. Gosh this book was such fun. I highly reccomend listening to this one on audiobook because you feel partly like you're just having a good old chat with this fabulous lady, and party like you are being entertained at some wonderful stand up comedy event. 

The book isn't linear in structure, it jumps around from time to time covering various aspects of Amy Poehler's personal life and her career. I sometimes prefer this form of writing to a chronological report of someones life, i found the anecdotal style very easy to listen to and I would imagine that it would make a good read as well. The stories that she told were interesting and you could tell that she was just sharing them with her readers, not putting them out there just for sympathy or just for laughs, it was really as if she were just telling you stuff about her life whilst you were both on a long bus journey or something-i really liked this!

The really fab thing about this audiobook was that there was definitely extra content for those of use who had elected to buy the audiobook. Obviously when you buy an audio version of an autobiography, you miss out on the pictorial content that you would get in the hardback edition, but because of this, Amy has added some guest readers and a whole section which she did ,Ive to an audience so you get just as much of a 3d experience as if you had picked up the hardback. 

I know this will be a big xmas gift this year and it came out just in time for all the seasonal gifting but i really recommend you not only buy this book as a gift but also read it yourself because  there is something in this book to entertain anyone and everyone. You will laugh, you will be made to think and you will definitely storm through this book just as quickly as I did. This was a fabulously entertaining read but now you'll have to excuse me whilst I find more funny clips of SNL on YouTube!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Letterbox Love #19

Welcome to Letterbox Love, this is a UK meme, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking and inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. This post is a means by which to highlight the books we get in the post and beyond, and especially to bring attention to those books which may be sat on our shelves for a little while yet that we love all the same.

I've not posted a book haul in a while so there are probably a few ebooks and audiobooks that should be on here but I can't remember exactly when I got what. The majority of those that I've bought recently I've either already reviewed or else will be reviewing soon so look out for those in the next couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I popped up to Dudley to attend a Miranda Dickinson signing at Merry Hill shopping centre. I actually bought five copies of the fabulous I'll Take New York (even though I had read and reviewed the proof already). I have posted just my copy and the signed page because others were for presents so i don't want their recipients to see them!

Then this week I've been very lucky with books from Simon and Schuster. This gorgeous book came through the post on Thursday. The Two of Us by Andy Jones comes out in ebook book in February and it is already highly anticipated and much talked about. I am trying to clear a day in my schedule soon to properly enjoy this. I've been promised tears so I think I need to prepare myself!

I was invited along to the Books and the City xmas drinks with the Simon and Schuster folk on Thursday as well and the Lovely SJV brought me a bag of bookish fabulousness that included these gems. The Year of the Rat by Clare Furness, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank and I was Here by Gayle Forman which, as you know, I am very very excited to read!

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for being so generous with the book love this week, I'm looking forward to reading all of these! Now all I need is an extended period of time when I can kick back and relax with this gorgeous haul-my upcoming flight to Texas should do just the trick!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Cover reveal & Guest Post: Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley

Today I have a wonderful guest post/cover reveal from the lovely Cathy Bramley. She has news about her fab novel Conditional Love which is about to be released by Transworld Publishers. Without further ado, I'll hand you over to her!

I am thrilled to announce that a new ebook* edition ofCONDITIONAL LOVE is being published by Transworld on Friday 5th December.

I first published CONDITIONAL LOVE myself on Amazon in October 2013 but now it has had the full Transworld treatment.

It is essentially the same story, with the same characters and the same happy ending. So what is different about it?
Well, I feel like my writing has developed since I first wrote it almost two years ago and so when Transworld very kindly gave me the opportunity to re-write it, working closely as usual with my editor, Harriet Bourton, I jumped at the chance. I took on board her editorial comments, sharpened up the narrative, tweaked some of the characters and generally I’ve given the book a more punchy, fast-moving feel.

I asked Harriet to share her thoughts about this new edition of the book in her own words:

I first read CONDITIONAL LOVE before I’d met Cathy. I’d seen her on Twitter talking to bloggers I follow and I was impressed by her cover for the book and the reviews she had, so I bought it and started reading. That one casual purchase led to Cathy’s deal with Transworld and a creative, fun and rewarding new author relationship. Some happy months later, Cathy and I set about looking at CONDITIONAL LOVE with a fresh eye. I thought the novel was wonderful, full of Cathy’s trademark warmth, comfort and good humour, but being an editor we can never leave well enough alone, and I had some ideas for how Cathy could squeeze even more out of the story. The heart of the novel is still the same, and the over-arching plot and characters too, but I think of this new refreshed edition of CONDITIONAL LOVE as being the high-definition version: brimming with colour and romance, sharp witted and lively from beginning to end, and impossible to resist once you’ve taken a glance!

I am delighted with what Harriet and I have achieved together this year and I hope readers will approve too. And of course the most exciting bit— is the sparkly new cover!

I must admit I was a bit nervous about having a new cover; I’ve had so much lovely feedback from people about the old cover with the red umbrella. But I needn’t have worried. Illustrator, Kate Forrester, who has designed all the Ivy Lane and Appleby Farm covers, has done an amazing job and honestly cant stop looking at the new look CONDITIONAL LOVE.
What do you think?!

*with a paperback edition to follow in 2015


A takeaway, TV and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets for thirty-something Sophie Stone. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is one big catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Saying ‘yes’ means the chance to build her own dream home, but she’ll also have to face the past and hear some uncomfortable truths…

With interference from an evil boss, warring parents, an unreliable boyfriend and an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth, will Sophie be able to build a future on her own terms  and maybe even find love along the way?

Cathy Bramley – Author Bio
Cathy Bramley is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, a four-part serialised novel (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and Conditional Love. Both are being published as paperbacks in 2015. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog.

Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted, romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending the last eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has been always an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Luckily her husband has now bought her a Kindle with a light, so that’s the end of that palaver.

Cathy loves to hear from her readers. You can get in touch via her website Facebook or on