Thursday 28 December 2017

Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads of 2017

Now then, I really struggled to concoct my top ten books of 2017 post the other day, so i narrowed it down and narrowed it down again and then I decided that I would post that one and then divide it up into different genres. So I am going to be doing my top 10 adult books (You can read that here), my top ten YA books (You can read that here) and my top ten non-fiction books because I have read a lot of non-fiction this year!

So finally, here are my top ten non-fiction books of the year...

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Guest Review: The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

Countdown to Christmas with your new must-have author, as you step into the wonderful world of Ava Bliss. Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde.
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

Review: This lovely Christmassy tale kept me company in audiobook format on a transatlantic flight. I found it such a compelling story that I just kept on listening and the journey was over in no time. This is my first Sue Moorcroft novel, but I already have the next one lined up. 

The main characters in The Christmas Promise are Ava Bliss, a struggling bespoke hat designer, and Sam Jermyn, owner of a PR agency handling some very famous clients. Ava lives with best friend Izzy, who works for Sam and has an enormous crush on him. Although currently being single, Ava has ex Harvey lurking in the background. He has some explicit pictures of Ava that he is holding over her, making her life a misery. Due to what has gone on is Ava's past, Christmas is not a good time of the year for her, adding to her overall feeling of despair. When Sam asks Ava to make a hat for his mother, Wendy, who is facing chemotherapy following her cancer operation, things begin to change. 

This is definitely a different kind of Christmas story. Sure enough, all the usual festivity is going on throughout the book, and there is the promise of romance bubbling under the surface, but some very real issues are dealt with at the same time, and in a skilful and sensitive manner. We see the worry and heartache experienced by friends and family of a cancer sufferer. Then there is the modern day problem of images taken on a mobile phone that just won't go away, and how they may be used by a bully. 

I would highly recommend this story to anybody, not just as a Christmas read, but at any time. I think it's one that I will be reading again. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2018 26/12/17

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 sooooo many books I'm looking forward to next year. I've added a page to my blog of all the 2018 releases that are on my radar so check that out here if you are interested in even more 2018 releases you also need to add to your TBR!

1st January

11th January

25th January

8th February

8th February

22nd February

22nd February

19th April

19th April

14th June

Monday 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas then I hope you have a restful and relaxing day and if you have to work then I hope it passes quickly and you get to relax soon. 

I will be enjoying Christmas in Denver with my husband and my parents, there will be food and bubbly and Christmas films!

There will be no Vlogmas video from me today but if you're still looking for festive recommendations then I suggest you check out any of these videos below.

Or you could check out my top ten books of 2017!

Thank you again for all your support and remember there is still a week of reading left of 2017...

Happy reading!

Sunday 24 December 2017

Guest Review: Map Addict by Mike Parker

Another in my series of guest reviews of non-fiction titles...

'My name is Mike and I am a map addict. There, it's said…'
Maps not only show the world, they help it turn. On an average day, we will consult some form of map approximately a dozen times, often without even noticing: checking the A-Z, the road atlas or the Sat Nav, scanning the tube or bus map, a quick Google online or hours wasted flying over a virtual Earth, navigating a way around a shopping centre, watching the weather forecast, planning a walk or a trip, catching up on the news, booking a holiday or hotel. Maps pepper logos, advertisements, illustrations, books, web pages and newspaper and magazine articles: they are a cipher for every area of human existence. At a stroke, they convey precise information about topography, layout, history, politics and power. They are the unsung heroes of life: Map Addict sings their song.
There are some fine, dry tomes out there about the history and development of cartography: this is not one of them. Map Addict mixes wry observation with hard fact and considerable research, unearthing the offbeat, the unusual and the downright pedantic in a celebration of all things maps. In Map Addict, we learn the location of what has officially been named by the OS as the most boring square kilometre in the land; we visit the town fractured into dozens of little parcels of land split between two different countries and trek around many other weird borders of Britain and Europe; we test the theories that the new city of Milton Keynes was built to a pagan alignment and that women can't read maps. Combining history, travel, politics, memoir and oblique observation in a highly readable, and often very funny, style, Mike Parker confesses how his own impressive map collection was founded on a virulent teenage shoplifting habit, ponders how a good leftie can be so gung-ho about British cartographic imperialism and wages a one-man war against the moronic blandishments of the Sat Nav age.

Review: This, as its name suggests, is a book about maps and the collecting of maps, which has been a passion of the author, Mike Parker, since his childhood. This book pre-dates another book, "The Wild Rover", by the same writer. After finishing reading "The Wild Rover", I decided to re-read "Map Addict". Although the two books are on different subjects, there are similarities between them, most notably the author's love of the countryside.

Mike Parker is a passionate champion of British maps and of the Ordnance Survey, the government department that produces maps. The first chapter of the book describes the richness of the countryside of the British Isles and the excellence of British cartography. Subsequent chapters deal with such diverse subjects as the history of the Ordnance Survey; the establishment of the Greenwich Meridian as the prime meridian; the way men and women allegedly read maps differently; and the merits, or otherwise, of satellite navigation systems (satnavs).

I found this book very readable and enjoyed the humour throughout. Like the author I too was given the task of navigating journeys when my father first bought a car, and I still like, when a passenger in a car, to follow the route on a map or road atlas.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Saturday 23 December 2017

Trying my hand at vlogging...

As you know, I started my YouTube/BookTube channel about a year and a half ago now and last year I did my first vlogmas. It was great to get me really into making videos and getting them turned around quickly. This year I have used vlogmas as a bit of an excuse to experiment with some different videos and some different editing too. 

One of the biggest things I've been trying is vlogging my day or my week or just experiences I've had. 

I've tried daily vlogging...

I've also tried weekly vlogging...

And I've also vlogged about my festive fun days...

I also tried my hand at a reaction video...

And showed you my reading routine...

I'd love to know your thoughts on these kind of videos and whether they fit on my channel or not.

It's still a work in progress but I'm having fun!

Friday 22 December 2017

Blog Tour: Short Festive Story from Heidi Swain author of Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair

I'm very lucky today to be hosting an exclusive short story from Heidi Swain to celebrate the release of her new novel Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair. I've already reviewed this wonderful Christmas read on my blog, you can read that here.

Here's what her new book is all about:

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all...?

Join Anna for a festive journey that is festooned with sleigh rides and silver bells and help her discover her happy ever after.

And now how would you like a fabulously festive short story to begin your christmas holiday with? Well here you go...

The Christmas Cracker Club
Heidi Swain

Ever since The Cherry Tree Café opened its doors, Lizzie had offered bespoke crafting classes to complement her best friend, and Café owner, Jemma’s delicious bakes. Christmas was a popular time for Lizzie’s workshops and Christmas Cracker Club places sold out as soon as they were advertised. 
However, having overheard a conversation in The Mermaid pub, Lizzie had decided to run an extra Club date. An intimate invitation-only two person gathering, to happen after dark when the blinds were down, the candles lit and with the purpose of rekindling romance.
   ‘Will this take long?’ grumbled Jim, the pub landlord. ‘Only it’s darts night.’
     ‘I thought you’d swapped it,’ muttered Shirley, the team captain. ‘You said you might as well, as we’re going to be here downing hot chocolate instead of pints.’
Right on cue Jemma appeared carrying a tray of generously filled cream and marshmallow topped mugs.
     ‘You’re not getting out of this Jim,’ she smiled. ‘I’ll leave you in Lizzie’s capable hands.’
     ‘To do what? This looks more up the wife’s street than mine.’
     ‘Exactly,’ said Lizzie, planting her hands on her hips. ‘And it’s because of your wife that we’re here.’
The unlikely crafters stared at each other, still none the wiser.
     ‘I overheard your wife, Evelyn chatting to Shirley’s husband, Bob. Apparently they both feel their lives are a little lacking in romance.’
     ‘But Bob’s always giving me gifts,’ Shirley observed. ‘Ever since I gave him a rocket after our twenty fifth wedding anniversary, he’s never missed an occasion.’
     ‘Quite,’ said Lizzie as Jim shifted uncomfortably in his seat, ‘he’s always the one giving the gifts, and it’s the same with you and Evelyn, Jim, but tonight we’re going to even things up a bit.’
Jim knew Lizzie was right. Ever since he’d had a health scare Evelyn had swapped her confrontational character for something far more cuddly and approachable.
The pair took their time picking out the patterned cracker paper, ribbons and embellishments which most suited their partners’ tastes and as they worked each mulled over what to fill them with.
The evening flew by and the floor was left covered in glitter, shiny ribbon and sparkling stars, but the results turned out to be as impressive as the soul searching that had gone on.    
     ‘I don’t know why I’ve never done something like this before,’ sniffed Shirley. ‘Bob’s always treating me, but all he gets is new socks and thermals for work.’
Jim nodded and thought how his wife looked after him and worked all hours behind the bar yet never grumbled that she was tired, even though she must have been.
     ‘I’m going to buy Evelyn the emerald eternity ring she’s had her eye on,’ he announced. ‘I know you said the treasure to go inside doesn’t have to be expensive, Lizzie, but my wife never had an engagement ring.’
     ‘And I’m going to sign us up for the ballroom dancing lessons that Bob’s been hankering after,’ said Shirley decisively.
Lizzie smiled but forbore to comment. She couldn’t imagine Shirley twirling in layers of chiffon, but if she was prepared to make the effort for her husband then she must have got the message.
     ‘I can hide the booking form inside.’ Shirley continued as she squinted into the cardboard tube.
It was starting to snow when the pair left. They each thanked Lizzie for rekindling their festive spirit and putting some romance back into their lives and Lizzie went back to the crafting table carrying a secret smile and wondering what she could possibly give her dear Ben this year.

The End

Thank you so much to Heidi for stopping by today.

To order your copy of Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair  now, just click the link: UK or US

Merry Christmas!

Top Ten YA/MG Books of 2017

Ok, as I explained in my top ten books of the year, I really struggled because I've read like 230 books or something this year so I wanted to put together genre specific lists as well. I've already posted my top ten adult books of the year (you can read that here) and I will be posting my top ten non-fiction reads of the year too.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my top ten YA/MG books I've read this year...

Thursday 21 December 2017

Review: Random Acts of Kindness Part 1 by Victoria Walters

An emotional, cosy, community read that will reaffirm your faith in human kindness. 

Welcome to Littlewood, a small town community with a big heart. Abbie has fled London and the humiliation of not being able to make rent after being made redundant. Louise, seriously unlucky in love, has thrown herself into her career at the local hospital. And Eszter, who has travelled from Hungary with her daughter, Zoe, hopes to reach out to the mother-in-law she never met while her husband was still alive…

Can a little bit of kindness really change your life? Three very different women are about to find out…

Review: This was a great start to a new series. This books drops you straight in the action with Abbie, Louise and Eszter. I love when a book, especially a new series, does that! I really felt like I already knew Abbie and Louise and together we had just met Eszter and we were all about to have a fabulous summer together. 

These characters are definitely the kind of women that anyone can identify with. A Nurse, someone who has made a couple of ill-advised choices and is now facing the consequences and someone else who just wants to do right by family. The community that they all now live in is populated by even more interesting characters, who I am sure that we will get to know further as the series progresses, I can't wait because there is so much potential for all these characters. 

Although this is the first in a series, I really felt like there was a lot going on in this book. There are plenty of events lining themselves up for future instalments, don't get me wrong, but we get to find out quite a lot abut what happened in these ladies' past as well. A few secrets are unearthed and a few weaknesses shown. 

All in all this should be a great series. I already feel invested in Louise and Abbie and I can't wait to find out what happens to them next. 

Click the link to order your copy now: UK

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'd Love Santa to Bring Me 19/12/17

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 always love this list and I have actually shared my wishlist with friends and family this year so... 

What Happened by [Clinton, Hillary Rodham]

Monday 18 December 2017

Top Ten Adult Books of 2017

Now then, I really struggled to concoct my top ten books of 2017 post the other day, so i narrowed it down and narrowed it down again and then I decided that I would post that one and then divide it up into different genres. So I am going to be doing my top 10 adult books, my top ten YA middle grade books and my top ten non-fiction books because I have read a lot of non-fiction this year!

So I wanted to make a video about the three lists but also it helps to write them down so here you go! Reviews are linked below each title!