Monday 31 August 2015

Summer Reading 7 in 7 Wrap-up

So last Monday I set out to read 7 books or novellas in 7 days in an attempt to catch up with my reading. I chose these 7 days because I still had some summer holiday left despite doing schoolwork most of these days and I had a bank holiday weekend with an empty house. Well you'll be pleased to know that I did it! 

I read 7 stories in these 7 days and all of them (I think?) were on the TBR I posted last Monday as well-hurrah!  So here are the books I read/listened to, 3 audiobooks...

One ebook...

One hardback...

And two paperbacks...

In total I read 2104 pages (which is more than I read in the last couple of bout of books readathons so you can tell I wasn't at school everyday)  and I also completed all the books on my reading all the Audrey's list of the books I had with Audrey in the title sitting on my shelves. I'm still not quite up to date on my Goodreads target but it felt really good to get a good way into reading after somewhat of a slump over the past couple of months. I'm currently reading A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson and this weekend I am planning on reading The Santangelos by Jackie Collins in preparation for the event with her next week! 

Sunday 30 August 2015

Letterbox Love #11

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.

Well I've been lucky enough to receive some fabulous books in the post over the past couple of weeks, there were some crackers to come home from my holiday to, and I also bought a few titles whilst I was away-not like me! Without further ado-let's get to the books! 

Firstly I was thrilled to come home to a copy of the fabulous Applby Farm by Cathy Bramley. I didn't actually read any of the four instalments of this one so I am really looking forward to getting into the novel as a whole. The most wonderful thing about it (apart from the fact that I'm in the acknowledgments) ??? 

It's signed too!!  Thanks Cathy and Transworld for that! 

Then from the lovely Cara at Mira, I got a fab proof copy of What we Left Behind by Robin Talley. I loved Robin's previous novel so I can't wait to get started on this one! 

Then this week, a wonderful parcel from Penguin came through my door containing a copy of The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies and some afternoon Ceylon Tea. I've not heard anything about this book but I am looking forward to enjoying both soon when I have a day to myself! 

Now onto some of the books that I bought. I visited by very favourite Waterstones in Glasgow and picked up this little essay We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I've heard this book being mentioned by a few book tubers and so I thought I'd pick it up for some non-fiction reading soon. 

Then in Waterstones in Aberdeen I picked up Loralai by Laura Dockrill. I love Laura's writing and so I'm looking forward to reading a slightly longer novel by her, and I don't think I've read a mermaid book before! 

I also picked up Night Owls by Jean Bennett. I had seen this book lurking on the tables in Waterstones but didn't really know anything about it, but following some good things said about it on Twitter, I decided to pick it up. 

Then when I was on my way to the til,I spotted this beautiful cover and had a quick look at the blurb before dropping it into my basked as well-why not?!

And finally audiobooks. Audible had a sale on and they also had a couple of fab daily deals so I picked up, Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher (I already have this in paperback) The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond (I also already have this in paperback) Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell, I know nothing about this but I love everything else the author had written so why not? And Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, this has been on my Wishlist for a long time now so when it came onto daily deals, how could I not?

Let me know if you've read any of the titles in my haul or if you've got anything that you think I should read first. I'd love to say that I'll have read them by the time you read thai post but that isn't going to happen so...

Friday 28 August 2015

Guest Review: A French Affair by Katie Fforde

Another fab review from my mum today-since she's broken her toe this summer, she's been storming through her (and my) book collection, reviewing as she goes! 

Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited a stall in the French House - an antiques centre nestled in the heart of the English countryside.

Gina is determined to drag the French House and its grumpy owner into the twenty-first century. Bearing all the attributes of a modern-day Mr Rochester, Matthew Ballinger is less than happy with the whirlwind that has arrived on his doorstep.

The last thing either of them want is to fall in love.

But will a trip to France change their minds?

I found this book a really good read and, as it says on the cover, "deliciously addictive".  I have read and enjoyed a few of Katie Fforde's other stories, and this definitely lived up to them. I didn't know in advance what the subject matter was, but with its antiques background it was especially enjoyable for me, as someone who is a regular viewer of  TV programmes like Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip.

The main character in the story, Gina Makepiece, along with her sister, Sally, has been left a stall in The French House, an antiques centre in a quaint little English town and has to decide whether to try to keep it running or just sell up and allow someone else to take the space. Their aunt from whom they inherited the stall stipulated that they should enlist the help of the owner of the antique centre, Matthew Ballinger, initially a grumpy and unapproachable character. There is a great deal of drama as Gina helps Matthew in his fight to keep the failing antique centre running and at the same time break through his crusty exterior.

I really liked Gina. She had great determination and lots of patience in the face of Matthew's resistance to her attempts to help make a success of the antiques centre using her talents gained in her career in PR. Her sister was also an amazing character, juggling being a wife and mother to young twins with her artistic skills. There are also some much less likeable characters in the story of course.

I would recommend this book to anyone, not just those interested in antiques. It is full of wonderfully descriptive writing that brings alive the characters and places within its pages for the reader.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Girls Night Out with Lisa Jewell & Rowan Coleman

I've just got back from a fantastic night hosted by Hillingdon Libraries. It was their second Girls Night In and it was in the wonderfully intimate setting of Manor Farm Stables, a fab place for such a lovely evening. 

The evening involved wonderful authors Lisa Jewell and Rowan Coleman and they were asked questions and evening treated us to readings from their latest books. 

Lisa read first, a bit from her book The Girls which is now out in paperback. I loved this book, it was terrible fast-paced and I found it hard to put down. I'll put a link to my review here. She also talked about reading Enid Blyton novels and Agatha Christie novels as a child and talked about the influences behind her current novel, her working day and even gave us a sneak peak into what she is working on now-a novel set in an East Yorkshire costal town with a mother of three from Brixton, it sounds fab and I can't wait to hear more about this. 

Then Rowan read us a letter from her book We Are All Made of Stars, a novel which is incredibly moving yet uplifting and life-affirming. I have also review this one so here's a link to my thoughts on We Are All Made of Stars. 

Rowan also talked about her Dyslexia and how it was never actually flagged up at school but that she got encouragement from one teacher who realised she wasn't just in the bottom set because she was falling behind, but that there was a disconnect with putting her ideas down onto paper. Rowan also said that she will begin teaching creative writing at the local hospice where she visited when researching her latest novel which is set in a hospital. She revealed that her alter ego Scarlet Bailey is currently cruising the world and so she is a one book a year author, but me wouldn't reveal what she is working on at the moment apart from the fact that it is set in New York where she is visiting on a research trip next week! 

It was just a wonderful evening with some fab questions from the audience including, how much influence the authors have over the covers of their books (a lot more input now than when they were newer names in the world of fiction) what they think of the term 'chick lit' (not such fans of it) and whether they wanted any of their books to be made into books (Lisa has had 31 Dream Street optioned and Rowan would like the novel she is currently working on to be made into a film. 

So lovely to see these amazing writers again and thanks to Hillingdon Libraries for organising the event and for a great evening! 

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books that would be on my syllabus if I taught(which I do!)

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!

So today I thought rather than stick to, top ten IF I taught, I would list top ten books I've enjoyed sharing with children at school. Now I've taught children of all ages so the list might be wide and varied but all have been wicked for sharing with the kids that I work with. 

1. Wonder by RJ Palacio

2. The Hunger Game Trilogy by Suzane Collins 

3. Completely Cassidy by Tamsyn Murrary

4. Darcy Burdock by Laura Dockrill

5. The BFG by Roald Dahl

6. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

7. The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

8. Demon Dentist by David Walliams

9. The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson

10. The Horrible Histories Series by Terry Deary (love the Gruesome facts!)

Monday 24 August 2015

Summer Reading: Mini Readathon

Good morning! So if you've been following the blog for a while, you may recall that the large bulk of my reading happens in the summer holidays. I have time off from teaching, some time to myself and therefore over the 5 weeks I have off school I tend to read in excess of 20 books. Now this has not happened this summer and it is starting to panic me a little. I've just had a really busy summer and haven't had a lot of down time to read. I've been on some amazing trips which I will share with you in a blog post to come but that means that I've been relying on audiobooks in the car to get my reading hit and so I've been a little more limited when it comes to my reading.

 I am currently sitting at 11 books read this summer. At this point last summer I had read 18 books. This ties in very nicely with what I'm planning on doing to rectify this situation. I am planning on trying to do a 7 in 7. So 7 books/novellas/audiobooks in 7 days-starting today. I have some work to do this week but apart from that I've not got major plans to go places and the bank holiday this weekend will hopefully help as well.

Now these aren't necessarily going to be all full-length books but I really need to catch up with my reading, I am behind on my Goodreads challenge, I'm behind on review books and there were so many books that I was planning on reading this summer that I just haven't. I've not got a specific TBR but I have made a small start into a couple of books and so therefore I'd like to finish these off this week and there are a couple of books to movie adaptations that are out right now that I want to read/watch so these are going to feature on the list. So here's my very loose TBR/the books I want to choose from this week...

And yes, some of these are in paperback because, as you know I am trying to do paperback summer and pretty much failing at it so farm despite having travelled round for 4 weeks with a massive bag of paperbacks in the boot of my car so that I can read them all (I haven't) some of these have been in there though so hopefully, committing to this will make me read them. 

So wish me luck, and happy reading! I'll update you at the end of the 7 days (Tuesday 1st Septemeber)

Friday 21 August 2015

Review: The Curvy Girls Baby Club by Michele Gorman

Ellie is fresh back from her honeymoon and can’t wait to share her news with her best friends Katie and Jane. To everyone’s surprise, mother-of-two Jane has news of her own… The women are due a day apart, on December 25th and 26th, and Katie can’t wait to be an honorary aunt to the babies.

But it’s hard to keep your sense of humor, not to mention your self-esteem, in the face of hemorrhoids and elasticated waistbands. Add a clingy mother-in-law, a career in cardiac arrest and a sex life that makes Mother Theresa look lusty, and soon their lives are as out of control as their bodies.

As the co-founders of The Curvy Girls Club, where loving yourself is the only rule, will the friends be able to practice what they preach? 

Review: I loved catching up with Ellie, Katie and Jane again in this fabulous follow on novella which I read in just one sitting! Even though it has been a while since I read The Curvy Girls Club, I picked up with these ladies again as soon as I read the first page. I liked the idea behind the storyline, the three of them supporting each other, not just through losing weight or being happy in their own bodies but through pregnancy as well and the dynamic between them was just as strong as I remembered from the previous novel, and the message still very much the same-love yourself more! 

I did miss founding member Pixie, who has moved away and so wasn't part of this story, but it was great to have Jane back as I really loved her story previously. She has similar struggles to deal with in this story, and she deals with them using the support of her husband and in the same kick-ass way that she did initially-I loved her. The other two ladies are facing relationship dramas that you might expect from new relationships and marriages and, for a novella, those storylines are just as much a focus as the babies themselves coming along, I thought this was really well managed in such. Short amount of pages! 

I was surprised at the pregnancies happening all at once and the ladies being due all at the same time too but that's how it needed to work for the book to take place so I can suspend my disbelief for 120 pages or so and I really did enjoy reading this. There were some moments that were just perfect and made me go aww and some seriously funny lines as well. I don't think you'd have to have read The Curvy Girls Club to be able to enjoy this, you just need to know that that is how these ladies have the strong connection that they do. If you have read the previous novel, I think you'll really enjoy this one, as I did, and love the feeling of catching up with the ladies once again! 

Thursday 20 August 2015

Review: Mile High by Rebecca Chance

First class is about to get dangerous . . . Pure Air's new LuxeLiner is flying from London to LA - its inaugural journey - with a first-class cabin packed with A List celebrities. As the feuding crew compete to impress their famous passengers, the handsome pilot tries to win the attention of a pretty young stewardess. But one VIP singer is battling something seriously sinister: watching her every step is a very determined stalker, someone who will go to any lengths to get the star to satisfy their desires. At thirty thousand feet there is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide . . .

Review: drama, drama, drama! This is THE book to read if you're looking for a little bit of naughty and a lot of drama this summer-this book really does have it in spades! Seriously, this book leaps from illicit sexual fantasies to conspiratorial against fellow flight attendants, celebrity scandal to FBI investigations and all over the course of one flight between London and LA (and a few flashbacks scattered throughout the story!) if you're in the mood for something serious or even something sweet and romantic, this one won't be for you but if you're after a bit of larger than life celebrity drama, then you will not be able to put this book down! 

The characters in this book are all major exaggerations on the real life, all of them have secrets ans all of them are wrapped up in some drama or another aboard this flight! Catalina is our main heroine and she has a stalker on the loose, she's also heartbroken and struggling with being the main public face of this brand new luxe liner. Jane Browne is similarly in the public eye and both are heading to the oscars but Jane is just as reluctant a celebrity and Catalina. I liked the relationship that developed between these two women, but I also liked the development of their own characters independently through the flashbacks in the book-very interesting. Rebecca chance obviously puts a lot of work into her characters and the facts that she has chosen to showcase these two also shows that she is aware of the gender inequality in Hollywood and the media in general and what these two women stand for showcases that throughout the novel. 

I really did love the fact that the role of the female as the sex object is portrayed in this book and is shown in all it's gory horror, I don't want to say too much about it because of spoilers in the storyline but I would like to applaud Rebecca chance on writing this in so cleverly. I think this writer must have had a lot of fun researching this novel as well because the description of the luxury on board the Ouxe Liner is amazing. I wanted to travel that way every time I fly, you will seriously be lost in the luxurious nature and decadence of it all, although it will probably put you off eating lobster for a while. 

There are some fab sex scenes in this book, this is Rebecca chance after all, though there weren't as many as I can normally rely on in a Chance novel, however, the scenes that were there were oozing with tension and so really get one hot under the collar! Seriously thought if you're looking for a fun read with plenty of interesting detail, plenty of fake scandal but also some real female empowerment thrown in then this should definitely be your next read. It would be a great introduction to the writing of this author, or if you are already and avid reader of Ms Chance's writing, then you'll love this one just as much, if not even more than the others! 

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Guest Review: Afternoon Tea at The Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson

Ok so even though I bought this book before her, my mum managed to get to it quicker than I could. I posted her article about when she went to the launch of this book and met Milly and now here is her fb guest review of what is a fab book! 

Her marriage is all washed up. It's time for a clean start;
Connie Diamond has always been her husband Jimmy's 'best girl' - or so she thought. But then she discovers that he's been playing away for the past twenty-four years, and that the chocolates she believed he bought her as a sign of his love were just a cover-up, and she is determined to get revenge.

Along with Della Frostick, Jimmy's right-hand woman at his cleaning firm, Diamond Shine, Connie decides to destroy Jimmy's life from the inside. Together they will set up a rival business called Lady Muck, and along with the cleaning ladies who meet at the Sunflower Cafe, they'll make him wish he had never so much as looked at another woman.

Then Connie meets the charming Brandon Locke, a master chocolatier, whose kind chocolate-brown eyes start to melt her soul. Can the ladies of the Sunflower Cafe; help Connie scrub away the hurt? And can Brandon cure her affliction and make her smile again?

Review: The latest book from one of my favourite authors, Milly Johnson, had me glued to it from the very start. I devoured this one in a couple of goes, just as I would have enjoyed the afternoon teas of the title. Although you might expect that maybe this is a story about a teashop, it is in fact about a group of people who meet regularly in the Sunflower Cafe, the common link between them being that they all work for the same cleaning firm and have become firm friends through that connection.  So, although we do learn about how scrumptious the afternoon tea is in this particular establishment, the real story revolves around the cleaning company and the people associated with it.

The main character is Connie, wife of the proprietor of the cleaning business, Diamond Shine. She and Jimmy Diamond have been married for 24 years, but she has no idea what has been going on behind her back. That is, until office manageress Della, feeling disgruntled at the way her idol, Jimmy, has rewarded her loyalty towards him, one day spills the beans. The ladies finally join forces to have their revenge on Jimmy by the most cunning of means.

Jimmy is a terrible boss, cutting costs at every turn to feather his own nest and treating his workforce very shabbily.  However, in the end, I felt almost sorry for him and had to focus on what he had put his good natured wife through to keep me grounded. He was not the only man in the story to come to a sticky end either.  There were lots of other stories going on in the background involving some of the cleaning staff and customers, lots of them full of humour.  I loved some of the character names Milly used in this story; some of the false customer names thought up as part of the ruse had me in stitches. Of course, sunflowers cropped up all over the place as well as being the name of the cafe.

In short, this is a highly entertaining and engaging novel that I would recommend to anyone looking for a holiday read. If you're not familiar with Milly Johnson's books, you could do well to start with this tale. I'm now just waiting with anticipation for her next one to come along.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: top ten auto-buy authors 18/8/15

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 love this weeks theme, I am going to post a list of fab authors, I've probably missed loads out and I apologise that it'll be very similar to my list of most-owned authors from last week. These are in no particular order and are definitely all auto buy authors for me. Pre-order, launch party, kindle download on the day, I've got to have anything these fab writers put out there! 

Miranda Dickinson

Sophie Kinsella

Lindsey Kelk

Milly Johnson 

Lisa Jewell

Rowan Coleman

Jane Costello

Lucy Robinson

Jenny Colgan

Marian Keyes

These are the authors I will literally drop everything else to read as well, but this list is by no men's ended here, there are tons of my favourite authors that I will automatically keep an eye out for release dates for their new books, in fact a lot of the authors I feature on this blog more than once will be auto buy authors to me.