Thursday 28 January 2016

Review: A Night in With Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday

After dating the hottest man on the planet, Dillon O’Hara, Libby Lomax has come back down to earth with a bump. Now she’s throwing herself into a new relationship and is determined to be a better friend to best pal, Ollie, as he launches his new restaurant.
Despite good intentions, Libby is hugely distracted when a newly reformed Dillon arrives back on the scene, more irresistible than ever. And when another unwelcome guest turns up on her battered sofa in the form of Marilyn Monroe, Libby would willingly bite her own arm off for a return to normality.
But while she hasn’t been watching, someone else has filled the Libby-shaped hole in Ollie’s life and she realises she could be about to lose something that means everything to her. Libby doubts that Marilyn is the right person to offer her advice, but perhaps she should listen up, before it’s too late…

Review: aww I loved this book so much, I can't wait for the next in the Libby Lomax series. I read this book almost immediately after finishing reading A Night in With Audrey Hepburn, which I also loved, and I think that that was a really good way to do it. If you can I would totally loose yourself in a mini marathon of Libby Lomax and her fabulous friends! 

This was a lovely quick read and one you could totally escape into. There are a few events during the course of the book that made me feel a little tense and on edge just because Libby gets herself into such scrapes and I want it all to be better for her, but overall, it is a really light hearted read that you can escape into after work or for an indulgent duvet day! 

I really like the character of Libby because she is just so real. She goes through the things we could all go through. Granted, we don't get into such comedic situations as she does, but we've all had that ex that we know should be an ex but we're drawn back to, we all worry about careers and we've all been in the flat that turns out to be not quite what we expected! 

In terms of storyline, as with the previous novel in this 'series' you do have to suspend your disbelief slightly to get to grips with the fact that Libby has conversations and exchanges with Marilyn Monroe, wears her bracelet and takes fashion advice from her but overall this is a really sweet story and leaves things fabulously placed for the next book in this series. If you haven't read them yet the now is your chance to catch up because I am sure that the wonder that is Lucy Holliday will be bringing another luscious installment of Libby to our shelves very soon!

To order your copy now, click here!

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Review: Spectacles by Sue Perkins

Spectacles is the hilarious, creative and incredibly moving memoir from much loved comedian, writer and presenter Sue Perkins.

When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn't kept some of it. She had kept all of it - every bus ticket, postcard, school report - from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say 'Why is our house full of this shit?'
Sadly, a recycling 'incident' destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it's left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.
This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as 'Is Mary Berry real?', 'Is it true you wear a surgical truss?' and 'Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?'
Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.
Thank you for reading.

Review: my Christmas present to myself! I so enjoyed this book, I listened to hours of it whilst just at home, normally my audiobooks are reserved for the car journeys but this one was absolutely gobbled up! I really like the fact that generally when you read an audiobook version of an autobiography it is read by the author and this fact really brought the book to life for me! 

There's nothing I can really add to this review that will be of any great revelation. I loved this book. Sue Perkins I brutally honest about her life and fills the book with witty anecdotes as well as sharing some really poignant and painful moments with us. I really like the fact that she isn't afraid to make a fool of herself and so she tells us about the moments that went wrong, even if we saw the polished finished product, she lays it all out bare, showing us that is wasn't always like that! 

I really enjoyed hearing the story of how she came out to her family. I love the fact that she had built it up to be something completely different from what it was in her head and the fact that she had a completely different experience of things when she had to tell her grandmother! I really like the fact that she is completely open about it about her relationships. I would love to hear more from Sue Perkins whether it is fiction or non-fiction, I will definitely be reading it and you should definitely follow suit! 

Monday 25 January 2016

Review: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes - and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes - but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less. 

But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Review: I've been wanting to read this book for ages. I bought it as my world book day buy either last year or the one before, and in the end I downloaded this on audiobook so that I could enjoy Moran's witty cynicism on the way to work and back. I don't know what I was expecting from this novel, I realised it was fiction and a story about a teenager but it was completely different from what I was expecting. As the book progressed though I heard a lot of the author and her own experiences at detailed in How To Be A Woman (one of my favourite books of all time) in it-great! 

The protagonist in this novel is brutally honest and is also very aware of her family and where they sit within society. I really liked the different relationships she has with the different members of her family and how they vary. She obviously loves them to bits and is especially protective of her brother because he is referred to in almost every other simile she uses! I also love the fact that she was determined to be the one that got out, that got the career she wanted and that went after things no matter what.

There are some seriously funny bits in the book when 'Dolly' enters the world of work and discovers mosh pits, smoking and drinking. These events in particular really highlight just how young and naive she is not just because of her age but also because she is from outside of London, not famillliar with the big city. I really liked her take on relationships and sex, it reminded me of my teenage years and what I thought should have been happening and the reality of it all. This novel is brutally honest, there are some moments which are definitely not for the more sensitive reader but definitely one that is worth reading, especially for the feminists among us! 

Friday 22 January 2016

Review: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower is a portrait of Drew's life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. It includes tales of living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today. It is the first book Drew has written about her life since the age of 14.

Review: I have discovered that my favourite way to read memoirs or autobiographies is to listen to the author reading them themselves on audiobook. I knew the moment I saw this book on the shelves in the states I had to have it so I saw that it was released on audiobook 2 days later in the UK and pre-ordered it immediately. This was another book that I flew through. I found myself trying to listen at all points of the day, not just during my commute to and from school. 

I really like the fact that this book has come out just meow, Drew Barrymore has been fairly quiet of late whilst she has concentrated on her family, I really respect this but it was great to hear something from her that was a little bit different. This book is a mixture of stories, letters, anecdotes, funny things, poems, sad things but full of openness and honesty! 

Obviously Drew has been in the film industry for many, many years and so must have a wealth of stories to shares but I think some of my favourite stories had nothing to do with the film industry but involved road trips and relationships and every day activities and though processes that we all have. Something which really came out of the book for me was the fact that he built herself up from literally nothing. She moved out of home very very young, had a rather public fall from grace and yet has her own film company, a reputation most actors would kill for and still managed to have a healthy marriage and healthy children! Needless to say I am envious of her. 

I don't think you necessarily have to be a Drew Barrymore fan to be able to enjoy this book, or even be particularly interested in her films. Of course I felt like watching some of her films as I was reading this, and I did, but in think it was just really interesting to hear about how she motivates herself, how she celebrates the joy and how she copes with the difficulties that life throws at us all. This was a really compelling read and something I am and have been recommending to everyone!

To order your copy now, click here!

Thursday 21 January 2016

Review: The Road to little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation’s heart and became the bestselling travel book ever, and was also voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain.Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey round Britain to see what has changed.

Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, by way of places that many people never get to at all, Bryson sets out to rediscover the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly unique country that he thought he knew but doesn’t altogether recognize any more. Yet, despite Britain’s occasional failings and more or less eternal bewilderments, Bill Bryson is still pleased to call our rainy island home. And not just because of the cream teas, a noble history, and an extra day off at Christmas.

Once again, with his matchless homing instinct for the funniest and quirkiest, his unerring eye for the idiotic, the endearing, the ridiculous and the scandalous, Bryson gives us an acute and perceptive insight into all that is best and worst about Britain today.

Review: I was so excited when I heard that this book was coming out. If you've read my blog before then you'll know Bill Bryson is one of my favourite writers and I've been lucky enough to meet him too which makes me love him even more! One of my favourites of his was notes from a small island, I remember having to share with people the bits that I found in the book that I could totally relate to: I.e. All of it and this book fits right into that same category. 

I actually listened to this one on audiobook and was a little diaspointed to find that it wasn't narrated by Bill Bryson as some of his other audiobooks have been, but I did think that the narrator sounded uncannily like him so it wasn't as bad as it seemed! I is tended to this audiobook with my partner so we could stop it at points and discuss what we had heard. This book would be a great book to read at the same time as someone else so you can laugh at the humour together. 

This book does come with a warning though, Bill Bryson's sense of humour is very dry and he is brutally honest. If he thinks there is nothing to like about a lace, he will make that very clear using plenty of analogy and hyperbole! I found it interesting that he revisited some places and went to some new places meaning that this will work if it is your first Bill Bryson or if, like me, you are a bit of a mega fan, he refers at points to Notes from A Small Island but only when he has visited somewhere before so it's not like there are any spoilers or anything! 

If you're looking for a hugely funny book that really unpicks the nuances of the UK and our society then this is the book for you!

To order your copy now, click here!

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Review: The Greedily Yours Series by Emma Hamilton

Mia Maxwell loves food. She loves it so much that she's made it her career. On the surface Mia seems to have it all. She lives in trendy east London with her best friend, Lizzie, who owns a cupcake cafe. By day she runs her own food PR consultancy, and by night she's a food blogger with a burgeoning audience. Mia has a banker boyfriend, Paul, who enjoys travelling the world, enabling her to taste the globe's culinary delights. But Mia is still hungry and, when she heads down to Cornwall to run a food festival, she doesn't realise that her entire life is about to be cast adrift. 

Emma Hamilton is the pen name for a journalist and writer who loves food; She was a staff producer and then freelance reporter for the BBC, CBC, and Deutsche Welle. Emma has written for a number of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, BBC Magazines, The Mail on Sunday, Four Four Two and Italy Magazine. She has worked on many series and documentaries, including one about food and culture around the world. Emma spent six years reporting from Italy and has made radio programmes in many other countries including Lebanon, Ethiopia, the USA, France, Germany, Russia, and Cameroon. When she's not cooking, reading about food or eating it, she splits her time between presenting, producing and writing. She loves yoga, running, gardening and chilling out with her husband, friends and family at home.

Review: I know I have already reviewed the first couple of novellas in this series, but over Christmas I read right up to the end of the series (plus the Chrsitmas special) and so I wanted to review the books together as a whole series. Firstly I really think that the length of these novellas is perfect. Despite the fact that my Christmas holidays were very busy, I still managed to read the 5 books I had left in this series, one a day. If you are lucky enough to have an hour for lunch, you could probably devour one of these at the same time as that sand which/soup/leftovers! 

Secondly I would like to talk about the strength of the characters. Sometimes when you read a novella or a short story, you don't get the character development that you would in a full novel. The characters are almost secondary to telling the story in so few pages, but I loved Mia and Tom and their funny friends/dogs. They really stayed with me long after I had finished. Mia is a totally relatable female character but not someone who is just another clone of every other women's fiction heroine, I like my ladies a little different with an indepedner streak about them and I definitely got that with Mia. I found Tom frustrating at times but in learned to love him too! 

The food, these books should definitely come with a warning, the food is seriously tempting. I found myself drinking more coffee, eating more cake and pasta and curry and everything else whilst reading these novellas. Obviously they are food themed and Mia travels to different countries to try their cuisine and experience their food culture for her blog but I didn't think I would be quite so affected by the food.  The description Is second to none and you can practically see the Olive oil dripping from the pages! If you're looking for a new series to start or have a New Years resolution to read a novella between each novel you read then definitely definitely start this series now, I'm sure you're going to love it! 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to my TBR 19/1/16

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!

There are so many many books on my TBR right now that I definitely shouldn't be adding anymore, but you know what a book love is like, you can't keep them from adding more and more delicious, besutiful books to the shelves so that's what I do. I've been lucky enough to receive some fabulous book post recently so they get added to my TBR right near the top!

1. All the Stars in Heaven by Adriana Trigiani

2. These Days are Ours by Juliet Ashton

3. Summer Nights at the Moonlit Hotel by Jane Costello

4. Holding out for a Hero by Victoria Van Tiem

5. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

6. American Housewife by Helen Ellis

7. Our Song by Dani Atkins

8. Girl Up by Laura Bates

9. The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

10. My Map of You by Isabelle Broom


Tuesday 12 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2015 Releases I meant To Get To But Didn't12/1/16

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!

Oh this list is going to be really easy because there are loads of them and they are all sitting there on by my bookshelf or on my kindle staring at me accusingly! It's not because I didn't want to read them, you understand, it's just that I ran out of time, sad face! Here is my guilty list, they're not going anywhere though so when I have a little but more time on my's hoping! 

Monday 11 January 2016

Bout of Books Wrap Up

Bout of Books

Well we've reached the end of the readathon. As I predicted, I didn't manage to get a whole lot of reading done. I listened to 2 audiobooks and began reading an ebook which I didn't get very far into becaude I only actually read in the car whilst waiting for school to open up 2 morinings this week.

I listened to Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

And An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The ebook that I began, but didn't finish was Match Me if You Can by Michele Gorman

I wish I had had more time for reading this week but I am pleased that I managed to listen to the audiobooks that I did!

Hopefully next Bout of Books will be more succesful!

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Guest Review: Talk to Me by Jules Wake

Olivia and Daniel certainly aren’t talking the language of love … 

Olivia has been in love with Daniel forever but, despite her best efforts, they’ve never been able to get it together. Their relationship has always been a series of mixed messages and misunderstandings and the final straw comes when Daniel mysteriously starts dating her flatmate, Emily. Hurt and confused, Olivia resolves to forget her heartache with a spot of speed dating. After all, what could possibly go wrong? 

One crazy stalker later and Olivia’s life is becoming increasingly strange and scary. Can she rely on Daniel to step in when events take a terrifying turn or will their communication breakdown ultimately result in tragedy?

Jules Wake is an author who I have not read before, but I was intrigued by the synopsis of this, her debut novel, and in fact listened to it as an audio book after I spotted it in the local library. It is an interesting combination of romance and suspense, which I thought worked really well.

The main characters in the story are Olivia, employed by a PR agency, her friend Daniel and her lodger and work colleague, Emily. We also meet various members of Olivia's sometimes strange family. Unfortunately, Emily is a rather spoiled and unlikeable person, but Olivia is such a nice person that she puts up with all the mean comments and actions that Emily doles out. I personally would have thrown her out of my flat ages ago. However, Olivia seems to like the quiet life, and is even coerced by her sister into going to a speed-dating event organised by her cousin. Far from meeting Mr Right, the girls pick up a stalker and the whole situation gets nastier and nastier as the story progresses. Throughout the story, you feel that Olivia and Daniel should be together, but for one reason or another, they never seem to get round to talking about their shared attraction for each other - a very frustrating situation for the reader.

I thought that this story was cleverly and powerfully written. I found myself fearful of what was going to happen next with regard to the stalker, and might have been hiding behind the sofa had it been on TV. I even found myself shouting things at Olivia like "don't open the door". It was certainly not one of those books where you could tell the likely outcome by the end of chapter 2! The book's cover gives nothing away either.

I would recommend this book to anyone, but be warned that it will draw you in so that you won't want to put it down. I look forward to reading more stories from Jules Wake. 

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Resolutions for 2016 5/1/16

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'm not even going to look at last years resolutions because I'm sure that these ones will be almost identical. I do like to make some bookish resolutions though so here goes...

1. Read more books than last year. Yes I've lowered my Goodreads target but I would like to read more than I did in 2015, who doesn't?

2. Read more paperbacks. I'm probably going to be moving in a few months so I should really get some of those paperbacks on my shelf read so that I've got less to take with me. 

3. Get my Netgally % up. Another common one I'm sure. I've been reading lately but forgetting to post my reviews on there... I must get on that! 

4. Read those books I really want to read. I've got a few oldies from some of my favourite authors that I haven't read yet but then new books come along and eat up all my reading time, oldies, I'm coming to get you! 

5. Update my blog. I've been meaning to make a few changes to the blog and really haven't had time this year so I'd like to do it in 2016.

6. Start vlogging. I know I've probably said it before but I really want to get into vlogging and I'm determined to do it after I move! 

7. Stop buying so many kids books. The children I teach have enough choice of some great books as it is, they don't need any more. Now children's books to give as gifts on the other hand...

8. Continue to say yes to bookish events, I've had so much fun at events this year, long may it continue. 

9. Stop saying yes to every review book that comes my way. I've been a lot better at this recently and I'm going to keep getting better at it. 

10. Continue to love reading and spreading the word of books! Oh yeah! 

Monday 4 January 2016

Bout of Books 15 sign up

Bout of Books

This is my sign up post for the Bout of Books 15 readthon. here's what it's all about...

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 

So, as you'll know, I've not been reading as much as I would like to recently and so this is just going to be a kick start to the year in terms of reading and therefore I'm not going to try and read any more than 2 books, that's my target and I'm sticking to it. My goal for the year is set at 100 books which I did manage to reach this year and so if i read 2 books a week, I know I'll be able to reach that goal. 

"But Catriona, you're starting a new job this week and you have a 5000 word essay due in in less than 2 weeks, where will you find the time to read?" i hear you call, well...

Obviosuly I have to drive to and from work, this works out as anywhere between 1 and 3 hours each day so that means I should be able to finish an audiobook this week... Looking through my collection, the audiobook I have chosen is Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This is a fairly short listen so if I manage to finish this one, I am going to select the last John Green novel that I haven't read, An Abundance of Katherines. I've been fancying reading some YA recently and this is also another short listen so it would seem perfect for the occasion!

Finally, the book I will be reading on my Kindle will be Match me if you Can by Michele Gorman. This is released on 14th January and so I want to get this read so that I can post my review!

After this I will just be please to actually manage to pick up another book, 2 is my aim and so I will be happy with this little crowd.

Happy Reading!

Sunday 3 January 2016

Letterbox Love #1

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.

Start the year with a book haul? Why not?! Now I didn't get any books for Christmas or my birthday but I did get quite a few books at the end of the year at events or in the post so time to show those to you now...

This lovely little stack of books is from the fabulous Penguin Platform event that I attended just before Christmas at the wonderful penguin HQ in London. It was fab to hear so many authors speaking and I also got copies of:
How I live Now by Meg Rosoff
Live This Book by Tom Chattfield
the Night That Changed Everything by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice
Wonder by RJ Palacio (this was in my goody bag recommended by Sophie Kinsella!)
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (also in my goody bag)
Escape to Christmas Past which is a colouring book I have been working on over Xmas 
The Book of You which I will definitely find useful as I am trying to keep myself happy over the next few months. As you can see I also got a Christmas card and postcard from Sophie Kinsella and a lovely book of books from penguin-pretty!  

The week before the fabulous Penguin event I was invited to a fab Simon and Schuster Books and the City Christmas Party. This was just as fabulous as the previous year's and as well as schmoozing with gorgeous bloggers and authors and those lovely ladies from Books and the City itself, we got goody bags. In each goody bag was the proof of the new Jane Costello which isn't actually out until march! I can't wait to get stuck into Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel! 

This week I was lucky enough to receive some book post. This was Holding out For a Hero by Victoria Van Tiem. Having read the blurb and seen the cover, I really can't wait to get stuck into this one! 

I also received a couple of things in the post before Christmas that I need to show you they were Lead and Deep by Kylie Scott and.....

The Queen's Choice by Anne O'Brien

At the penguin event I was actually the plus one of lovely blogger Zarina who gave me these two books, the Last Spirits by Chris Preistly and Unbecoming by Jenny Downham, both great looking books. I'm looking forward to having the time to sit down and really have time to savour Unbecoming! 

And finally, I've reviewed this book and written about the fabulous launch party but I don't think I featured it in a book haul. I bought myself a copy of How to Stuff up Christmas by Rosie Blake, a real festive great! This is the paperback but I know that the kindle version is still on sale at the moment so go and grab yourself a copy now! 

Thank you to all the publishers for the lovely books and thank you to Zarina for feeding my book habit too! 

As this is the first post of the year, let me take this opportunity to, once again, wish you a very happy new year!