Wednesday 31 August 2016

Review: Killer Diamonds by Rebecca Chance

After decades in the spotlight as an Oscar-winning film star and famous beauty, Vivienne Winter is one of the most recognizable women on the planet. When she decides to auction her multimillion dollar jewellery collection for charity, there's no shortage of people eager to buy a piece of her incredible history.
Young, ambitious Christine Smith is a jewellery expert working for a centuries-old auction house. But in a world of aristocratic snobs, her working-class origins are holding her back. She's desperate to secure the sale of Vivienne Winter's gem collection: it's set to be the biggest auction since Elizabeth Taylor's. However, meeting the Hollywood star is just the first hurdle Christine has to jump.
Vivienne's handsome, spoilt and sexy playboy grandson Angel is the heir to her fortune. The anger and resentment he feels towards his grandmother for selling what he'd counted on as one day being his inheritance sets in motion a series of events with deadly consequences. Angel is totally unscrupulous, and no one will emerge from his plotting unscathed. For it seems that family secrets cut sharper than diamonds . . .

Review: I was really looking forward to reading Rebecca Chance's latest offering after having loved her previous 3 novels. This has just confirmed for me that I really must read the rest of her back catalogues-I own them all after all! I wasn't let down by this novel. These books are quite indifferent from the novels I normally read and so they're almost like an extra bit of escapism for me. As usual this novel offers drama to the highest degree, oppukNt luxury to drool over and of course some fabulous sex scenes. If you're not a fan of a bit of raunch in a novel then you should steer clear of these books because Rebecca chance knows how to get you hot under the collar and I love it! 

The characters in this book are a mixtures of wealthy celebrities and aristocrats with Catherine, just like you and me, trying to find her way amongst them all and not get dragged under by their fabulous yet risky lifestyle! I liked Catherine although she seemed a little weak in the beginning for my liking, but never fears she gained strength and conviction as the story progressed. Angel was an interesting character, I loved reading about his escapades. The grandson of a glamorous Hollywood icon, raised by nannies and spoiled rotten, he has some fabulous scenes of luxury and gets up to some serious fun in the bedroom too. And then we have Vivienne. The book really revolves around her and her diamonds. I loved reading about her rise to fame and I love the way she handled every situation like a true lady and a true professional! 

Of course some of the storyline is somewhat contrived but it is to be expected with this kind of a novel. I picked this book up because I wanted 500 sensational pages of adventure, opulence and sex and that's exactly what I got. Some of the twists and turns in the story I could see coming but others snuck up on me and surprised me and I really enjoyed the fact that u as keep guessing right up until the very last page. So desperate was I to read the closing pages of this novel, that I carried this around literally everywhere with me on Saturday morning. Reading it in the car, at breakfast and even as I went along. If this is your first Rebecca Chance novel, this will give you a real taste for her writing and the kind of this your can come to expect when you pick up the rest of her books, and if you're already a die-hard fan then you won't be disappointed with this latest beautiful book. A very entertaining read and definitely pure escapism! 

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books on my classroom bookshelf 30/8/16

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!

Over the years I have bought many many books from my classroom, far to many than I care to think about. I also get the opportunity to explore new releases with my class and that can be a real eye opener as a reader-great fun! I have just bestowed my collection of books on the group of year 6 teachers who are about to start the new school year with my most recent class, as it would have been a lot of money to have them shipped over here to the states with me! So here are those that have been favourites in to class over the years...

1. The Harry Potter Collection by JK Rowling-Of course! We loved reading the picture book too! 

2. Diary of. Wimpy Kid Collection by Jeff Kinney-they can't get enough of this! 

3. The Geek Girl Collection by Holly Smale, these books have been a hit with my classes since the first one was released and I brought it in! 

4. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, I own 8 copies of the first book, it was that popular! 

5. Wonder by RJ Palacio-it seems to be a rule that you have to be a fan of wonder to work with me!


6. The Secret Garden/Little Princess-I got a gorgeous version of both from Barnes and Noble and my kids really looked after them well! 

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green-when the film came out, so many of them read or re-read this and it was great having discussions with the about it and introducing them to Volg Brothers of course! 

8. The Darcy Burdock Series by Laura Dockrill, I read this one really really fast and Loud because that's how I think it should be read aloud! 

9. The Completely Cassidy Series by Tamsyn Murray, another one I read really quickly because Vassidy has so much energy and there's a puppy in it too! 

10. Anything by David Walliams, his books are never actually on my bookshelf, just like everything else here, they're always out on loan! 

There you have it, writing this makes me really kiss reading these and discussing them with all the kids I've worked with over the years-*sniff*

Monday 29 August 2016

Bout of Books 17.0 Wrap up!

So it's wrap up time! I didn't read as much as I thought I would this week. Although I didn't have work, I did have a lot of sorting out and unpacking to do since I just moved country so I listened to some audiobook whilst doing that but it definitely cut down my reading time. Here's what I did read though. 

The last 80 pages of How to Find Your (First) Husband by Rosie Blake

Killer Diamonds by Rebecca Chance-500 pages

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe-272 pages

Tangle wood Wildlife Park: Baby Zebra Rescue by Tamsyn Murray-176 pages

And 5 hours of That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson which equates to about 155 pages

So altogether I read 3 complete books and 2 parts of books totalling 1183 pages. I'm quite proud of that and I read both of the shorter books in 1 sitting so I'm happy with that too. 

I hope to have another good reading week this week so I'll keep you uodated on what I'm reading when and you can expect some more reviews coming from me soon! 

Guest Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

**Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a very special little cookbook shop is about to open its doors…**

In the beginning…

Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ can’t fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.

Forty years later…

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.

But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…

Lose yourself in Della’s world of food, family and friends. 

Review: Ellen Berry is an author who is new to me, but I liked the sound of this story when I looked at it and decided to try it. I have also just finished another story about a bookshop, so I thought why not stay in that theme? Of course that's where the similarity between the books ends, but they proved equally interesting. 

In The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane, the main character, Della, is left to dispose of her late mother's possessions, which include a collection of cookery books. This is not just any pile of cookery books that we all have in our kitchen; this amounted to over 900 publications. Della comes up with the bright idea of opening a specialist cookery book emporium in the little Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where she grew up. She meets with a mixed reaction to the idea from family and friends, but goes ahead with it anyway. It turns out there is a lot more going on in Della's life than she realised. Daughter Sophie is off to university, with the worries associated with that, and what is husband Mark up to? No good, we suspect. To top it all, a mystery surfaces when she finds a cryptic note inside one of her mum's books.

I very much enjoyed this story. I liked the character of Della and the strength that she finds when faced with unexpected stresses in her life. Her siblings were more than happy to leave her to clear out their mother's home and possessions, but not to support her in her new endeavour. Her husband was also unhelpful and unsympathetic. However, she battled on undeterred, with the support of her best friend.

I think that this would be a book to be enjoyed by all. At this time of year, many of us are looking for good holiday reads to stick in the case or download to our e-readers. This would be a good one. I was delighted to find at the end of the book the information that 2 more about Rosemary Lane are to follow. I'll be looking out for them. 

Thursday 25 August 2016

San Francisco

So San Francisco was quite different to what I expected it to be and turned out the be the most bookish portion of my Holiday...

My first stop was city lights Bookstore which was really interesting. As you can see from the picture did make a purchase which included a book and a tote bag, I will show them to you soon...

Then I made a pilgrimage to see a setting for Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson. I went to see Earthsong and Lizzie's apartment, which both appear in the book and are located in Haight Ashbury. I really liked this area of the city but felt I could spend far too much money on interesting cuisine, unicorn headbands and of course books. 

Yes I also visited another bookshop here and got myself another tote bag. I loved this bookshop, they had awesome music playing and a great selection of books from all genres. 

Of course we went to visit Alcatraz. I really enjoyed this adventure, it was so interesting being able to actually wak through the prison and have an audio tour hosted by former inmates and guards. Having to go over by boat made it all the more surreal because it really is this entire island surrounded by water with no way on and off apart from by boat. I would highly recommend taking a trip here, yes it is a touristy thing to do but you learn so much from it and there are all sorts of extra talks and bit of information that you can learn from the rangers too. 

The day we did the trip to Alcatraz, we also did a bus tour of the city. Which took I a drive last both the bay bridge and the golden gate bride. It was really cool to explore the vast expanse of city in just a 2 hours bus tour and seeing such iconic structures made it worth it, our guide was excellent and very laid back which I think made a lot of difference to us. 

We stayed at Fishermans wharf which had a great outlook but I found to be really really touristy. If you want to do boat trips and sightseeing it is a good base to have though there are lots of restaurants around the wharf, although all have a wait, of course. And pier 39 also has lots of shops and restaurants. The Sea Lions at Pier 39 definitely have to be seen, they appeared after the 1989 earthquake and are there most of the time, you'll hear them before you see them! 

We ate well in San Francisco, taking in plenty of seafood as well as visiting the Cheesecake Factory on the top floor of the macys in Union square which was quite cool. The highlight for me though was a visit to a speakeasy, you had to book and give a password which they sent you a couple of days before in order to get in. They had a great selections of whiskies and other spirits and did some fabulous traditional cocktails. We had a great evening here, it's call Bourbon and Branch and I'd really recommend it if you like that sort of thing. 

I didn't fall in love with San Francisco as much as I did Seattle but I'm glad I got to see so many of the iconic structures and areas that I have seen in so many films and TV shows. 

After San Francisco we picked up our hire car and that's where the next part of our Californian adventure begins! 

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Review: The Trouble with Henry & Zoe by Andy Jones

Henry and Zoe have more in common than they realise. For a start, they both have pasts they'd rather leave behind.

After jilting his childhood sweetheart on the eve of their wedding in the small town where they both grew up, Henry runs away to London, planning to reinvent himself and start afresh.

Zoe has her own healing to do and so she plans to leave London, travel the world, and figure out just what it is she wants out of life. She doesn't know where she's going, but she is determined to go there alone.

If Henry and Zoe had met one year ago, perhaps things could have worked out differently. But that's not the way it works; they meet seven months after their worlds have been turned upside down. And four months before Zoe is due to climb on a plane...

Review: just like Andy Jones's last novel, this is one of those books that hooks you in right from the start. This books came with me everywhere on holiday so I could read a little bit here and there, whenever I had the chance and thank goodness I read the ending on a plane journey with someone else because I had to talk about it. Just be warned, you will want someone to talk to after you read the ending of this book. The thing that struck me the most about this book was how real it felt to me. Henry and Zoe felt like they could've been my Friends and the things like were happening to them do really happene to people like us in real life! 

To begin with, I wasn't sure how much I was going to warm to these 2 lovely characters, I wasn't sure if I would find them a little self-absorbed but I think they were so well written they just becaus absorbed into my friendship group in my head and I wanted to know what was goin on with them and how things were going to turn out for them! I think I preferred Henry as a character because I liked his laid-back attitude. Zoe is very determined though, which I really liked about her, she knows what she wants and decides to go for it after a big change in her life. 

I definitely became emotionally involved in this book and the structure of the story meant that you got a little glimpse of one character before switching back to the other. I love books that are structured like this and it made it ideal for dipping in and out of on holiday. I mentioned the fact that the beginning is really effective at capturing the audience but that ending.... Wow, I feel like I want to know so much more about these guys and yet it was just so perfect and exactly the ending that I wanted, 

This is a really great read and definitely something you should be adding to your TBR pile. I think that this would suit most audiences becaus you've go both the male and the female protagonists so there really is something for everyone here. The writing is witty and you'll be emotionally involved as well as invested in these strong characters. I really enjoyed this read! 

Monday 22 August 2016

Bout of Books 17.0 sign up post & TBR

I almost missed a bout of books readathon-how did that happen???

Well that's what going on holiday for 3 weeks, leaving your jobs and moving 5000 miles will do to you. Given that I have just moved I have a limited number of books with me until all of mine arrive in their boxes. Of course I have my kindle so I have lots of amazing books on there, but I normally like to use a readathon to go through some of my actual physical books because I feel I neglect them more. So here is a picture of the books I gave with me at the moment next to my bed and this will give you an idea of my TBR pile...

I have about 70 pages of How to Find your (first) Hasband by Rosie Blake to finish so that will be getting all of my attention for the next couple of hours. 

Next I want to read Killer Diamonds by Rebecca Chance

Then I'm desperate to read either We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk or On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher...

After that I might mix it up with a bit of ebook or audiobook but that's pretty much as far as I've got with my TBR. 

My current audiobook read is this...

And I'm about halfway through Down Under by Billy Bryson too...

In terms of Ebooks I have Julie Cohen's new novel Falling to read

And I recently went on a bit of a nostalgia binge and re-bought The I Heart series by Lindsey Kelk and Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson which I would love to re-read! 

A vague TBR I know but this readathon couldn't have come at a more perfect time so let's hope I get involved in some of these amazing books! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that've been on my shelf since before I started blogging! 23/8/16

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!

Today is a bit of a tricky on e because most of my books are in a crate on a boat on their way to me in my new apartment (hopefully) so I'm having to do this from memory... When I first started blogging I read through my bookshelf fairly quickly but it also made me top up my book collection. There are so many awesome books that came along that of course there were some that got left behind.

1. Summer in the City by Candace Bushnell, loved The Carrie Diaries, don't know why I haven't read this yet! 

2. Unsticky by Sarra Manning, I've loved all of Sarra's other novels so why haven't I read this one?

3. The Nearlyweds by Jane Costello. I have no idea why this is still the only Jane Costello I haven't read! 

4. This is What Happy Looks like by Jennifer E Smith

5. The Good The Bad and The Dumped by Jenny Colgan-had this one on the shelf for so long!

6. One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

7. Will You Still love me Tomorrow by Claudia Carroll

8. The Summer of Living Dangerously by Julie Cohen

9. Kate's Wedding by Chrissie Manby

10. Marrying Up by Wedny Holden

Looking at this list and thinking about all the other books that are about to be delivered to me, I'm seriously excited about getting them all and reading them all, here's to reading what you want to! 

Guest Review: Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie

Theresa is desperate for a change. Forced into early retirement, fed up with babysitting her bossy daughter's obnoxious children, she sells her Highgate house and moves to the picture-perfect town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, just outside Nice.

With its beautiful villas, its bustling cafes and shimmering cerulean sea, the village sparkles like a diamond on the French Mediterranean coast. Once the hideaway of artists and writers, it is now home to the odd rock icon and Hollywood movie star, and, as Theresa soon discovers, a close-knit set of expats. There's Carol, the infinitely glamorous American and her doting husband David; the erstwhile British TV star Sally; the ferocious Sian and her wayward Australian poet husband; the sharply witty Zoe with her strangely youthful face and penchant for white wine--and the suave Brian who catches Theresa's eye.

As Theresa settles to the gentle rhythm of seaside life she embraces her new-found friendships and freedom. However, life is never quite as simple as it seems and as skeletons start to fall out of several closets, Theresa begins to wonder if life on the French Riviera is quite as nice as it first appeared.

Review: I am always suspicious of books by people famous in fields other than writing, but I needn't have worried in this case - I found Not Quite Nice a really engaging novel. The cover of the book itself kept on attracting me as I passed the bookshelves in the shops. It is so bright and exotic in appearance. I thought that the story within matched up to it nicely. 

The story tells of the lives of a group of British ex-pats who have moved to a small French seaside village just outside Nice (hence the title). The latest arrival to the Riviera is Theresa, who has become fed up with her role as unpaid baby sitter and general dogsbody for her unpleasant daughter and equally nasty 3 grand daughters. While taking a short break in the area, she buys herself a flat there, and promptly leaves Britain and her family behind. She is soon absorbed by the rest of the group and there follows a series of entertaining incidents. I found myself laughing out loud at several points in the book, but there were also plenty of more serious moments. The story had a really good plot with a host of twists and surprises. 

As you can probably gather, I very much enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it as a great holiday read. I am looking forward to reading Celia's next tale following the events in the village. 

Thursday 4 August 2016

Seattle-my travels so far!

So I thought it would be cool to do a post about where and what I saw whilst I was in Seattle. I won't be doing this for every place that I stopped at but I really really loved Seattle and went spent 3 full days there so definitely thought it was worth it! 

We ended up travelling to Seattle from London for around about 26 hours but the views that greeted us as we landed were so worth it. We got view of Mount St. Helens as well as mount Rainer which were truly breathtaking especially since they were set against a setting sun! 

We stayed in an air bnb when we were here. This was an apartment just on the edge of downtown which was perfectly located. It was never noisy or busy but close to everything that we wanted, really recommend this kind of accommodation as well, we were never bound by someone wanting in to clean the hotel room and we had access to a fridge/cooker/full lounge! 

On our first day we took a walk through downtown and out to the site of the world fair where the EMP museum, Space Needle, Glass Garden and Science Centre are. We went into the EMP museum, it was really cool and definitely something we both enjoyed. I loved this sculpture featuring many many guitars as well as lots of other musical instruments. It's the heart of the museum and stretches from floor to ceiling. We also enjoyed the Hendrix exhibition and the Nirvana exhibition. 

We wanted to go up the space needle but it was closed that day unforuntuately. So we took the monorail back into downtown to walk down through Pike Place market and get some lunch. We had lunch on the pier and then made use of the rest of our city pass. The pass included entry to all of the things I've listed so far at the Seattle Center and also the aquarium and a hard our cruise. Whilst we were waiting for the cruise to begin, we took a ride on the wheel here to get some awesome views of the city! This was the biggest wheel in the states until they installed the one in Chicago but it was really cool and had great views! 

We didn't think we would have time to visit the aquarium but we did and we really enjoyed seeing the sea otters and the seals and we can definitely say it is great for a flying visit, especially if you have the city pass as you save at least half off the admission prices! The cruise was probably my favourite ying of the day because the tour guide was so knowledgeable, a Seattle local and we even saw porpoises off the side of the boat! 

Now of course, no trip to Seattle for me would be complete without a trip to the original Starbucks, but I've done a whole separate post about that when I went there so you can have a read of that! 

We did go up the space needle on our second day there but I have to I was quite underwhelmed by the whole thing. For a 2:30pm ticket, we didn't get up there until well after 3pm and queuing to get back down again took forever, it made me feel rather claustrophobic that I couldn't actually get back down without queuing to get on this lift. 

We did some shopping on day 2 as well, of course this included a visit to Barnes and Noble and I also got a really cool tote bag in macys but I think I'll leave the shopping haul until the end of the trio because there is bound to be loads more where that came from-you know I love to shop! Seattle was great because all the shops were close together but there was still a really good selection and we got a very cool bag for Oli in his favourite Tumbuk2 shop! 

On our last day we went on a very cool underground tour, this was another ugh light for me because it was just so informative as well as entertaining. We didn't do any ghost hunting (that was a whole other tour) so it was literally just hearing about the history of Seattle and how it was built and governed in its early days, so much history but just so much fun at the same time! If you are ever in Seattle, this needs to be a must for you, there are lots of stairs but there was a guy on crutches on our tour so pretty accessible as well. Big shout out to our tour guide Jacob, he was so good at his job and really made the tour for us! 

I have to have a whole separate section on how good the food was in Seattle. This is a picture of our brunch on day 2, this place Lola was recommended to us and we nearly went back there again on our third day, the doughnuts and the eggs were just so good! The atmosphere was lovely and the service was just impeccable. We also ate at Biscuit Bitch, they have a couple of locations in the city and the biscuits were amazing, Oli had an eggs, grits and sausage combo topped with jalapeƱos which looked and tasted incredible and it was just really chilled out and tasty! We also ate at The Fishermans on the pier which had fab lunch options including many different kinds of oyster! 

And Seattle is famous for its coffee so, of course we had some of that too. This is a picture of my espresso with sweet cream at Cherry Street Coffee House, another very laid back place but with a cool atmosphere and I ticked off a total of 10 new Starbucks (they were everywhere) including some excellent Pike place reserve done in the Clover machine in Pike Place! 

I'm mainly documenting my travels so far through Instagram and snapchat videos and pictures, but I hope to upload some of my videos to YouTube when I get back Nowehre has had good enough Wifi to do it so far! 

My next travel post will feature San Francisco and then it's onto the road trip section of our holiday-can't wait! 

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