Sunday 30 April 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Wrap Up

Well the 24 hour readathon has come to an end. I've listed below what I read and how many pages that totals. I'm really pleased that I managed the full 24 hours and I also took part in the challenges over on Instagram, definitely check out my feed for that! Here's what I read, click on the cover to go to the buy page:

I read 118 pages of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon because I am doing this as a buddy read.

The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon. This was the first book I finished, a total of 400 pages.

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber. This was the second whole book I read at a total of 384 pages

Binge by Tyler Oakley. I listened to this on audiobook, a total of 320 pages. 

I listened to the whole audiobook of Men Explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit-130 pages

I finished listening to the audiobook of Down Under by Billy Bryson, the last 20 pages to be exact.

I also listened to the last 80 pages of All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

I picked up Difficult Women by Roxane Gay but it wasn't really clicking with me. Because this is a book of short stories, i read a few of them but left the rest, I MAY go back to the others at some point but I'm not sure. I read 125 pages of this in total. 

So this readathon I managed the full 24 hours reading and read 1577 pages in total! I'm really quite proud of that, what do you think?

Saturday 29 April 2017

Blog Tour: Q & A with TA Williams, author of Dreaming of Venice

I am very honoured to be part of the Dreaming of Venice Blog Tour today. TA Williams has stopped by the blog before, but today he has been answering my probling questions. Before you scroll down to the interview, here's what the book is all about:

Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice.

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?

And without further ado, here is the Q & A I promised you! Keep reading down to find out more about the author, links to buy the book and the Goodreads page. 

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?
I’ve always written. I’ve still got all 44 handwritten pages of “The Lake Dwellers” (a shameless ripoff of Swallows and Amazons) written at the age of 13. When I was working full time, I used to write in the evenings as relaxation.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?
I do now. I gave up the day job ten years ago (I am very old!) and now concentrate on writing. I usually write three books a year.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
Writing style? I do like a bit of humour. Even in my “serious” books, like Chasing Shadows, there has to be somebody with a sense of humour. We humans take ourselves far too seriously. As for genre, I’ll write anything. At the moment I’m enjoying myself writing romantic comedies, but I’ve written thrillers, historical novels and romance.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
None really based on real people, although there will always been traits I have observed in friends and acquaintances that slip in. Most all are out of my imagination and they develop pretty much under their own steam as the book evolves.

What was the inspiration behind Dreaming of Venice?
Firstly, I love Venice. I lived in Italy for 8 years and I love the whole country, but Venice is totally unique in the world. I have always wanted to write a book about “La Serenissima” (as the Venetians call it). As for the story, I think it was watching the wonderful TV version of John LeCarré’s The Night Manager that gave me the idea of somebody impersonating somebody else.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?
Not really. I start with a setting and a main character or two and a rough idea of what’s going to happen and then let it lead me along. I’ve always been terrible at writing synopses in advance. They always change.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?
Seeing as my main characters are usually women, probably not that much. Yes, they all tend to be good at languages (that’s about my only talent) and they all like good food and wine, dogs and Italy.

What kind of research did you do before/during writing your latest book?
My wife and I went to Venice for a few days and stayed in an amazing 5 star hotel – that’s classified as research and it’s tax-deductible, you see ☺. My wife is an art historian, so she was a terrific source of advice on painters and painting.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
Love the good ones, hate the bad ones. In fairness, most of my reviews have been pretty good, but for time to time there’s a bad one that makes me stop and think. You can learn a lot from a well-written bad review but, alas, most bad reviews tend to be short and imprecise. The “best” bad review was for a previous book and all it said was, “Meh.”

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?
Bless her, my wife is very supportive. She also reads all my stuff before it goes off to the publishers and she makes some really useful comments - not least as she is a woman and I’m writing from a female point of view. Sometimes we men don’t quite get it right…

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?
Dreaming of Venice will be my eleventh published book, but there is still the same nervousness. I scan the ratings, wait anxiously for the first reviews (thankfully, reviews for Dreaming of Venice are looking very good so far) and know that publication day itself will see me firmly rooted to my chair in front of the computer screen, hard at it with social media.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
To be honest, I don’t really read any romcoms. I enjoy romantic comedy movies like Four Weddings and a Funeral, but don’t know much about other authors’ take on the genre. Most of my reading is thrillers (LeCarré is amazing!) or non fiction. I’m a closet history junkie.

Finally...what are you working on right now?
I’m just finishing the first round of edits for another romcom set in Provence and then I’ll be moving onto something set, I think, in St-Tropez. As I said above, seeing as it’s tax deductible…

Information about the Book

Title: Dreaming of Venice
Author: T. A. Williams
Release Date: 24th April 2017
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Canelo
Format: Ebook

Author Information

C:\Users\saman\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\T A Williams.jpg

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Thanks so much to TA Williams for stopping by today. Don't forget to stop by the other wonderful blogs and see what else this fabulous blog tour has to offer!

Friday 28 April 2017

Review: Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as "Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians."

Her career at a low point, Dratch suddenly had time for yoga, dog- sitting, learning Spanish-and dating. After all, what did a forty- something single woman living in New York have to lose? Resigned to childlessness but still hoping for romance, Dratch was out for drinks with a friend when she met John.

Handsome and funny, after only six months of dating long-distance, he became the inadvertent father of her wholly unplanned, undreamed-of child, and moved to New York to be a dad. With riotous humor, Dratch recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and the awkwardness of a baby-care class where the instructor kept tossing out the f-word.

Review: Ok so I am an SNL fan, but being in the UK when Rachel Dratch was on the show, I didn't really get to see her in her heyday. This, I think, was actually pretty useful going into this book because this book, she says so herself, is about what happened after SNL. I really enjoyed reading about a comedian I had heard some things about but not a great deal and her journey to stardom and then what happened when that stardom kind of ended. 

If you are a Rachel Dratch fan already then there is definitely something for you in this book. She tells of her beginnings in comedy and her background and does go into some of the SNL stuff. If you are a fan of the show, you will recognise her journey as being similar to so many other SNL stars. I really enjoyed hearing about how she got started but also how she struggled after the show ended. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the struggles that she had because of her gender or because of her look.

Rachel Dratch is an extremely funny writer and I listened to this one on audiobook so I got to hear her stories in her own words, told in her own way and that was definitely a bonus. I really enjoyed hearing her dating anecdotes and could definitely relate to some of the stories she had to tell. I would definitely recommend getting the audiobook on this one, whether you are a Rachel Dratch/SNL fan or not, it will be a funny, quick and entertaining read!

To get your copy now, just click here!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon TBR

I am so excited that it is 24 hours readathon time again. And this time I will be reading in a different time zone, making this a completely new experience for me. Before I share with you the books that I'm going to be reading this weekend (or 24 hours of the weekend) I wanted to share some information from the Dewey's site with you, giving you a little more information about what they do... 
'This season we’ll be putting an emphasis on philanthropy and giving. Dewey was one of the most generous people we’ve ever known, willing to give her time and energy and love to our community of readers. We want to share our love of reading and learning through giving. Giving takes many forms, and we know not everyone has the resources to give financially but we’ll be looking at several ideas throughout the event.' 
room to read logo'Our focused effort will be a goal of raising $1,000 for Room to Read, a non-profit organization focusing on literacy and girls’ education across Africa and Asia. You can visit our campaign page or check out Room to Read’sCharity Navigator report card.'
It's such a great readathon, and if you haven't joined in before, I highly encourage you to-here is the link to the times that the readathon starts in your time zone. I will be reading 6am to 6am, new for me since before it was 1pm to 1pm, i wonder how it will affect my pages read?
And how about my TBR? Well this readathon comes at the perfect time because I am racing towards the finish line of my April TBR and so I'm going to take a couple of books from there that I would like to finish this weekend. I also find it handy to have an audiobook on the go during a readathon so that you can still be reading if you have to cook or clean or travel during the 24 hours, and also for when your eyes get tired of reading in the wee small hours! 
Here are the books I have to choose from this weekend:

I am doing a buddy read of this hardback and so I will read my 50 pages for the 2 days that we have agreed upon so I know my page count for this one will be 100!

This is a paperback...

This is an ebook

As always, I may end up picking up something else along the way as the mood takes me but these are all books I know I want to read so I'm going to go for it!

Please do let me know below if you are taking part and do follow my progress on my various social media channels!

Twitter: fabbookfiend 
Instagram: fabulous_book_fiend
Snapchat: fabbookfiend

Thursday 27 April 2017

Review: Singing in The Rain at The Picture House by The Sea by Holly Hepburn

Part Two in the brilliant new series from the bestselling author of the Star and Sixpence series. 

Gina has returned to her family in the picturesque Cornish town of Polwhipple, to help run the Italian family's ice-cream business while her grandfather recovers from an accident.

Dismayed to find her old haunt from childhood visits to Polwhipple, the little picture house by the sea, in a state of disrepair, Gina is determined to help. Long past its heyday now, the little art deco cinema needs all the help it can get. With the help of her old friend Ben, Gina goes to the town's committee to ask for funding to renovate the hearthstone of Polwhipple's community. And what better way to prove the little picture house's worth, than by throwing another fantastic themed screening... 

But Ben's activities are closely watched by the venomous Rose, who wants him all to herself. And how is it exactly that she knows Gina's boyfriend Max... Download it now to find out! 

Review: this is the second part in the new series from Holly Hepburn and I literally read this the moment it hit my Kindle! I am loving this series so far and the length of the instalments in the series mean that you can read them during a lazy afternoon or in an evening in the bath-they are a great length and each is a completely story from start to finish. 

The characters in this series are great too and by part 2 we are really getting to know them and how they all relate to one another.  I'm really enjoying spending time with Gina, she definitely has her head screwed on right. I love the relation ship she has with her grandparents and I really admire her determination. I love the fact that she can come against adversity and will try whatever she can to conquer it. I have also been enjoying getting to know Ben. It is always a little odd when you reconnect with a childhood friend but I am enjoying  seeing Ban and Gina's friendship develop and I love Ben's loyalty and sense of right and wrong. 

There are two other factors which make this series great, firstly the food. There are awesome descriptions of ice cream and coffee in these books so definitely be warned about that-you will need a decent snack to enjoy with these novellas. And secondly, the eponymous picture house itself. I loved the idea of this old cinema, left to rot and ruin, not being taken care of properly, bringing a community together and coming to life once more. Of course it makes me want to watch all of the films too, but I defy anyone not to fall in love with this cinema. 

I highly recommend downloading this series and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next instalment!

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Guest Review: Meet Me At Wisteria Cottage by Teresa F Morgan

Gorgeous as he is, Maddy Hart’s first meeting with her stubborn new neighbour strikes plenty of sparks – and not in a good way! Only when someone sets fire to her house, it’s Harry Tudor, ex-fire-fighter turned landscape gardener, who comes to her rescue, generously throwing open his own home to Maddy – and her cat – during the investigation.
Such close proximity to Harry’s mouth-wateringly muscular body soon has Maddy properly hot under the collar! But falling into bed with him is one thing; getting him to open up about his past is clearly another

Review: I have not come across this author before, but I am glad that I got the chance to read this latest book of hers. I found it grabbed me right from the start and had me spellbound; I just had to keep reading right to the end. It was a really easy read, but in no way lacking in detail, and with mystery and drama mixed in with romance to keep the reader guessing just what was going to happen next. 

The story is set in the fictional Cornish village of Tinners Bay, where the heroine, Maddy, has recently opened a gallery selling her own paintings as well as those of other artists. When she returns home one day to find her house on fire, she is taken in by her neighbour, ex-firefighter turned landscaper Harry. However, not wanting to outstay her welcome, she is pleased to be offered temporary accommodation in Wisteria Cottage, a seaside property being renovated by its new owners. This brings her into contact with slightly slimy builder Simon, while hovering in the background is Maddy's creepy ex-boyfriend Connor. There are quite a few other notable characters as well, such as Valerie, an old friend of Maddy's family, and also an adorable cat, Sookie. 

I found this whole story really enjoyable. The Cornish seaside setting is well described, right down to the cream teas and noisy seagulls. The characters are strong, with plenty of history to be discovered as the pages progress. I loved the way in which the author incorporated mystery and danger into a really romantic tale, and that there was a proper hero. I could predict what was going to happen early on, but I had no idea how it was going to play out. It was good, too that there was quite a bit of humour going on. If, like me, you haven't read any of Teresa F Morgan's other books, you may well want to be looking for them once you have finished reading this one; I know I will. 

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Review: I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself by Jen Kirkman

New York Times bestselling author and stand-up comedian Jen Kirkman delivers a hilarious, candid memoir about marriage, divorce, sex, turning forty, and still not quite having life figured out. 

Jen Kirkman wants to be the voice in your head that says, Hey, you're okay. Even if you sometimes think you aren't! And especially if other people try to tell you you're not. 

In I Know What I'm Doing--and Other Lies I Tell Myself, Jen offers up all the gory details of a life permanently in progress. She reassures you that it's okay to not have life completely figured out, even when you reach middle age (and find your first gray pubic hair!). She talks about making unusual or unpopular life decisions (such as cultivating a "friend with benefits" or not going home for the holidays) because you don't necessarily want for yourself what everyone else seems to think you should. It's about renting when everyone says you should own, dating around when everyone thinks you should settle down, and traveling alone when everyone pities you for going to Paris without a man. 

From marriage to divorce and sex to mental health, I Know What I'm Doing--and Other Lies I Tell Myself is about embracing the fact that life is a bit of a sh*t show and it's definitely more than okay to stay true to yourself.

Review: I was generously sent this book for review by the publisher and I am so glad that I was because this was a thoroughly enjoyable read! I have to admit that I hadn't really heard of Jen Kirkman's stand up until I heard about this book and then I took to Netflix and watched what she did. I am pretty glad that I watched her stand up before reading this book because I think that it set the tone for what the book was going to like. There was limited crossover so there will definitely be new material in here for die-hard Jen Kirkman fans. 

This book is structured like a series of anecdotes about life and love and what is really great about it is that you wouldn't have to read this one chronologically because it isn't written that way. Jan offers witty takes on aspects of life that wouldn't normally have any humour in them, such as divorce and break ups, and adds her own dry sense of humour to them. This book is definitely not for the faint hearted because Jen really doesn't hold back when she offers her opinion on something and that's another thing that I really loved about this read. 

I think that this book would be great for anyone who hasn't seen Jen's stand up but I think it is a really good companion for her shows that are currently on Netflix, or is you have been to see her live. I wouldn't necessarily say that this book is for younger readers, just because the life experiences that are mentioned wouldn't necessarily seem relevant, and its helps if you have been through some of the things she has been through as it will make it easier for the reader to relate. I don't like putting ages on books, but I would say that mid twenties would be a good starting point with this one!

I actually downloaded the audio book version of this one because I cannot begin to tell you how much I love hearing authors reading their own memoirs and this definitely fell into that category. It was great hearing Jen tell stories in her own words and her own voice and she puts on an accent to imitate her mother, who has a strong Boston accent and i think that really adds something to the book. I am glad I have a physical copy too though, because this is definitely one of those books that I will go back and dip into again. I haven't read Jen's first book but I will definitely be adding it to my TBR and you should definitely do the same with I Know What I am Doing!

To get your copy now, click here!

Monday 24 April 2017

Review: A Song For Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world. 

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

Review: this is going to be a hard review to write because I loved this book so much and I don't want to give away any spoilers so excuse me if this one gets a little bit gushy! Alice Peterson does an amazing job of writing books which deal with tricky topics, difficulties for her characters, illness and heartbreak and I think she does an amazing job of it. There are many of you out there who will have reservations about picking up one of her novels because of the difficult subjects that she deals with. But the reason you should definitely read any of her novels, especially this one is because she manages to take these difficult subjects and come out with an amazingly heart-warming and uplifting read that will make you want to go out into the world and face your own demons, however small or large they might be face on. 

This book deals with Tom and Alice, characters who do have a lot of difficulties in life, but who are determined to live life to the full nonetheless. I loved getting to know these bright young people and I loved watching them bond and grow as the story progresses. This is very much a book about people and Alice is the lynch pin that hold the book together. But there are other people in this book who the reader will definitely fall in love with to. As much as this book is about Alice, it is also about family and I love the way this author wove the concept of a strong family model, be that blood relation or the family you make for yourself in the form of your support network of friends, throughout this difficult story. I loved the values that Alice's family groups had a I loved reading about their journey over the course of this novel too. 

I really loved the way this novel was structured, it has chapters written from Alice's point of view, from Tom's point of view and also from Mary's point of view in the form of extracts from her diary. This means we switch between person as well as point of view and we get to see how the things that are being thrown at Alice are affecting Tom and Mary, and vice versa. I'm a big fan of multiple narratives and, although this is a long book, this structure made for a well-paced read. 

Yes I did cry more than once during this read, thankfully I didn't listen to any of this in public though, I would definitely keep this one as a home read. Even though I cried though, this book still left me feeling optimistic and filled me with joy. I loved getting to know all these characters and relationships and I loved being back in an Alice Peterson novel once again! If you haven't read anything by Alice Peterson before, or you were wary of picking up one of her novels then this would be a great starting point for you-whilst there may be a few tears, this really is a wonderfully uplifting and fulfilling read which has laughter and sadness in equal measure. I would definitely recommend dropping what you're doing and reading this one immediately!

To get your copy now, click here!

Sunday 23 April 2017

Letterbox Love #6

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 been lucky enough to receive some books from publishers this week and I also got some fab books from the library that I want to share with you. Click on the image to go to the buy page for each book. I've also already reviewed one of the books so definitely check out that post which I will link below! I also made a couple of videos about these books:

I received a copy of I Know What I'm Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself by comedien Jen Kirkman from Simon and Schuster. This one comes out in paperback on Tuesday 25th so look out for my review of this one then!

Then from Simon and Schuster UK, Books and the City, I was lucky enough to received a signed paperback copy of The Woman at Number 24 by Juliet Ashton. 

Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster US and UK for these fab books!

Check out my review of this one here!

Then, just yesterdy, I received a copy of Miss You by Kate Eberlen from Pan Macmillan, thank you so much to them for this book, I've heard great things about it!

And here are all the fabulous books I checked out from my fabulous library!

I found out that this is called Lobsters in the UK and I actually already own it-ha!

Thanks again to the publishers for the wonderful books and look out for reviews of all the other books!