Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February Wrap Up!

Well February wasn't quite as good a month for reading as January was but January was just massively brilliant for time to read for me. I had my mum visiting for half of this month so I didn't get much reading done yet but I did get to re-read a book so that was cool! Also, I read some really fab books. I didn't complete everything from my TBR but I did read some of the February releases I wanted to and did read some of the books that have been on my shelves for a long time.

So here is what I read during the month of February...check back here for reviews of them all!

E Books

Physical Books


And the books I started in February but haven't finished yet...

Review: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't. Ten years later, Ruby's single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years. But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there's nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . . .

Review: this is most definitely one of those books that sucks you right in from the word go. I knew as soon as I read abut Ruby and trying to finish up everything she had to at work so that she could get away for a couple of days to the UK for her sister's wedding that I was going to enjoy spending time with her. The whole book starts in this whirlwind way and then we get to know more about Ruby and her 'one that got away' via various flashbacks to her life as it was when she embarked upon this career which is keeping her so busy and what life was like when she moved to New York ten years ago. I really liked this structure and it was helpful in putting THEN and NOW between the flashbacks. Sometimes chapter started with email communication, something which is always fun to read and sometimes we were just thrust right into the action. 

I found myself really identifying with Ruby as a character, and not just because she is the same age as me, but also because she is doing what so many of us are doing right now, working ourselves silly because we are in our dream job in our dream city. I also like the fact that she has this front that she puts on, partly due to that one that got away, and slowly, we start to see her letting more and more into her life. I was really rooting for her and really liked the development that she had achieved by the closing stages of the book. 

There are, of course, some wonderful supporting characters too. I loved Ruby's BFF Jess, she was a real grounding influence, and again someone we will all be able to identify with. I also really liked the strong family values that run throughout the book. Of course, there being a wedding, family are going to be heavily involved, but I liked that way that the family unit developed as the book progressed. 

Of course I loved the setting. We switch between New York, Massachusetts and the North East of England, all places I cold picture well and the feeling of all the places featured was described very well and jumped off the pages and into my reading experience. A few of the phrases that Ruby used with her friends and family got a little repetitive but they kind of became her trademark so I came to overlook them. This book definitely had me on an emotional roller coaster, especially towards the end. I liked the settings, I loved the structure and I thoroughly enjoyed embarking on the journey of discovery with Ruby and the rest of the characters in this novel. Definitely one to add to your TBR this spring!

To grab a copy for yourself, just click here!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Review: I have to say, this book was quite different to what I was expecting. I didn't expect such a personal account of Elizabeth Gilbert and her life's creativity and this was a pleasant surprise for me. The structure of the book was fairly loose, with ideas and essays arranged in slightly linear form but then also arranged by topic. Gilbert would offer some personal account of something and then reference others and other texts that deal with this aspect of creativity. 

So many people have told me how inspiring this book was and I would agree with them. I found that it reassured me that my form of creativity, my casual writing, my blog and the other things i create in my life are worthwhile and something that I should take an active part in rather than waiting for them to happen to me. This has been something that I've been aware of in my life in the past. It also made me feel more confident in my role as an educator and gave me a tool to support those I teach to embrace their creativity too. 

This book has a strong voice and I listened to it on audiobook, despite having this one on ebook. I think it would be a good book to have a physical copy of too, because it is definitely something I'm going to be dipping back into as time goes on, but I loved hearing each part read in the way the author intended. Having an audiobook version also meant that I could listen to a bit of it and then go and do. This book is hard to describe but is definitely an uplifting and motivating read. If you read it all at once, like I did, or read it in parts, I think either way will have equal value and I really recommend picking this one up if you've been tempted to in the past!

You can order your copy here...

7 in 7 reading week!

I've just finished adding to my February wrap up and my March TBR. Whilst doing this I also looked at some of the books I've received/borrowed from the library/bought this month and I realised that I really want to catch up on some of the fab books that I've got. These are books that I wanted to read in February/March and just haven't managed to fit in yet. I love reading and I've not really read at all for the past couple of weeks so I thought what better to do than to set myself a 7 in 7! I would love to have some people reading with me so please do comment below or tweet me if you would like to join in!

This means that I am going to try and read 7 books in 7 days. This isn't because I feel like I have to but purely because i have such a fabulous TBR and so I really really want to. I love a good readathon and find that tracking my reading in this way really helps me to get to the books I want to read.

Now for the books I want to read. This list will undoubtedly be more than 7! I won't necessarily read a book a day because, as you know, I tend to read a few books at a time. I do, however have some books that I know I would really like to read this week and so this is the pool I will have to choose from...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Series Review: The Meet Cute Series by Katey Lovell

Katey Lovell is a wonderful author who I discovered in 2016. She has one paperback novel currently in the charts. I posted a review of The Singalong Society for Singletons in October. You can find that here.

But she first came to my attention for her short stories. The meet cute series! Here's a link to Katy's blog so you can find out more about her!

The Meet Cute Series are short stories that cover just that, girl meets boy, something amazing could happen. The way each story differs is that they meet in several different scenarios. You can tell from each title, where they're going to meet and that's the wonderful thing about this series. Each story is about 20 pages long and so that's why I'm reviewing these as a series rather than individual short stories.

Review: I just love these short stories because each one is a full story in itself with a beginning, a middle and an end. You see things from our main character's perspective and therefore get to live out her feelings when she first spots the person she is about to meet. Sometimes she has been watching them from afar for a while, sometimes she has seen them on more than one occasion and sometimes we get to see their interaction the first time they met. This series has got variety I tell you!

The great thing about the fact this this is a series is that it isn't a series! When I first began reading them, I thought I was going to have to read them in order but each one is a stand alone meet cute and so you get a new experience every time. You will therefore definitely find yourself downloading more than one at a time because you will find yourself drawn into the irresistibly romantic world of the meet cute!

I think my favorite of these was the Boy in The Bookshop, and not just because it was set in a bookshop, but I also really liked the Boy Under the Mistletoe. These are the two that have stayed with me longest and you can definitely go and read both of these just not because the description of 'the boy' the description of the meeting and the pure romance is just such high quality and that's part of what makes these so readable. 

I would say that each of these short stories takes me less than 15 minutes to read and so trey are perfect for bedtime reading, for reading when you are early to an appointment or for reading on a shorter commute. They are also very easy to binge read and you may find yourself reading three or four of these at once. Each one is its own story and I am sure that you will love them all!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Review: Chapel Wars by Lindsey Lovett

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance? 

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax. 

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

Review: I picked up this book, knowing nothing about it, having just returned from getting married in Las Vegas. All I knew was that it had an infamous Vegas wedding chapel on the front, but I knew I had to read it as soon as I read the blurb. I really did enjoy this book because of all the mentions of the places I went when I was in Las Vegas. It covers various other hotels and wedding chapels, the infamous Strip and the Neon Boneyard. I loved the descriptions of all the places and you could tell that this author has a passion for her city, just like the main character does, it really helped bring the book alive and off the page for me!

The characters in question were interesting. I don't think I loved them quite as much as I loved the setting for this one. Holly is definitely a courageous young woman and is most definitely a good advocate for strong women in YA fiction. She takes care of her family and of her siblings and works hard to respect her grandfathers wishes. I really liked the values that she stood for but I'm not sure I found her situation to be the most believable. Dax was another person who is very family loyal, I liked this quality about the main characters. He is a very loyal person in general but he has other characteristics (which I won't give away) that definitely make him the lovable rogue of the story!

The storyline, as I've mentioned above, seems a little contrived to me. I love the notion of a 17 year old trying to save a business but I'm not sure that everything Holly did in this story would actually be able to take place. The storyline did sweep me along though and I enjoyed reading about each stage of her endeavour. I think that you need to suspend your disbelief slightly going into this novel, but if you do, you will have a sweet story with some very interesting characters and definitely something that will give you a strong belief in self-improvement and self-discovery!

To get your copy, just click here!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Guest Review: A Leap of Faith by Trisha Ashley

Sappho Jones stopped counting birthdays when she reached thirty but, even with her hazy grip on mathematics, she realises that she's on the slippery slope to the big four-oh! With the thought suddenly lodged in her mind that she's a mere cat's whisker away from becoming a single eccentric female living in a country cottage in Wales, she has the urge to do something dramatic before it's too late.

The trouble is, as an adventurous woman of a certain age, Sappho's pretty much been there, done that, got the T-shirt. In fact, the only thing she hasn't tried is motherhood. And with sexy potter Nye on hand as a potential daddy - or at least donor - is it time for her to consider the biggest leap of all? It's either that or buy a cat . . .

Review: This book was originally published in 2001 under the title The Urge to Jump. Trisha Ashley explains in a foreword that it has not been majorly rewritten, merely given minor adjustments before being re-released. I missed it in its original form, so was pleased to pick up this edition. I would have to admit that I wasn't drawn into the story immediately; it took me a while to understand what was going on. However, it soon settled down in my mind and I was hooked. 

The story features Sappho Jones, a writer of fantasy fiction, who suddenly realises that she has reached the age of thirty-nine and, although having accomplished many things in her life so far, she needs to consider motherhood before it's too late. At the start of the book, we find her moving into her cottage in the Gower Peninsula, a lovely part of Wales. She has some good friends living nearby, including: Miranda, a skilled cook with a very unlikeable husband; and Mu, a children's book illustrator who is desperate for a baby and is willing to go to extremes to become pregnant. The village where Sappho lives is home to some other interesting characters, such as her eccentric neighbours (three sisters in their seventies, but all with active careers), a rather gorgeous potter called Nye and Lili, a bit of a man-eater. Also featured is Dave, an ex boyfriend of Sappho's who doesn't know when to let go and is a bit of an ominous presence. 

This story is absolutely brimming with humour and I found myself laughing out loud on more than a few occasions. Although It is full of funny characters and events, there are also some darker episodes. There is a mystery of a disappearance running through the book and also the worrying presence of the slightly unhinged Dave. I wouldn't rank this as my favourite Trisha Ashley novel, but it's most definitely one worth looking out for. As usual with her books, there are some recipes tagged onto the end of the story and also an excerpt from her new upcoming novel to whet the appetite. 

To get your copy, just click here!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I loved More/Less than I thought I would 21/2/17

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 thought that rather than doing 10 of one or the other, I would do 5 books I loved more than I thought I would and then 5 I loved way less than I thought I would!

5 Books I Loved Less than I Thought I Would

The first 2 are ones I've read recently that I just expected so much more from! I'm going to see if I feel differently about them once I've seen the movies!

This had been on my TBR for so long and during my YA binge in January I listened to this on audiobook, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I still have 2 others by this author to read so we'll see...

I just couldn't get on with this one and ended up not finishing it. I loved Fangirl but I couldn't hold a whole book about Simon Snow and his adventures!

This one was like a 3.5 star read for me. I liked what was in the book, but I just feel like it could have been developed so much more...

Oh dear, it looks like they're all YA contemporary, I don't hate all YA-I promise-just look at my reviews!

5 Books I Loved More than I Thought I Would

Listen to this one on audiobook and you will be transformed, I ljust loved this so hard-it had me laughing out loud in the gym!

What looks like a classic book about a group of mums is so so much deeper than that and even years after I read this, it still sticks with me and made me cry in public!

I Hadn't read anything like this before, and this was just hilarious, indescribable, but hilarious!

This showed me that I can love a phsycolocigal thriller. I will read anything that CL Taylor writes!

This was my first foray into a true 'feminist' book and I have pushed this book onto so many people since!

I really enjoyed putting together this top ten. There could have been way more than 5 books I loved more than I thought I would.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.

At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her favourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept. Curious, snarky Dash isn’t one to back down from a challenge – and the Book of Dares is the perfect distraction he’s been looking for.
As they send each other on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan, they’re falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be their biggest dare yet….

Review: So I had wanted to read this book for ages and I don't know why I hadn't got round to it until now, but I can definitely say it was worth the wait. I had heard that this book was set in New York but I didn't know how prominently it would feature in this novel. I loved how much of a character New York itself was and I think that this was one of my favourite things about this book. I could really picture where the characters lived and were heading and the places they met. What is great about the writing is that the description is so vivid, you don't need to have visited there, you can live from the descriptions on the page-wonderful!

The eponymous characters are, of course, wonderful as well! I liked the fact that they seemed to be the kind of people who don't normally go off on adventures like the one they encounter in this book. The book starts off with Dash finding this notebook, he could have left it alone, but his sense of adventure means that he picks up the notebook and takes on the first challenge. We can tell that both these characters are confident children of the city, as they are able to speak to people in shows, movie theatres, coffee shops and have no problem in attending a party on their own.

I identified with Lily more than Dash because this is something that she has done in an attempt to put herself out there and you can tell that she doesn't really know exactly what she's doing. I like that she has the confidence to do this. Something else i really liked about this character was the relationship that she has with her grandfather, I think this is a really sweet part of the story. Dash also forms a relationship with one on Lily's relatives and I definitely found this aspect interesting. I like the bond that he was able to form with Lily because of this too.

There are definitely some moments in the book where Dash and Lily seem to exhibit the typical teenage behavior of growing up , a bit of rebellion if you will, but on the whole I found them to be mature individuals. They definitely go on a journey over the course of the novel but I think that this isn't just something to be enjoyed by Young adults, I think that anyone who has a love of adventure and a love of New York would take as much from this book as I have.

The other thing I must mention that I particularly enjoyed about this book is the characters love of books as well. It all starts off in a bookstore and The Strand bookstore in New York features heavily i this novel. This book is therefore perfect for book lovers, it was a pacey read and I loved every moment of it!

To grab your copy, just click here!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Book Spotlight; Becuase of You by Silvy Wells

Today I am here to spotlight another fab new book for you. Because of You was released yesterday and is from debut romance novelist Silvy Wells. Links to Amazon and Goodreads are below and, excitingly, there is also a book trailer-how fun!

Nicole Wellston realized that falling in love would bring her just pain. She was working in the biggest publishing company in New York and didn’t want anything but her job. With head into the books, she enjoyed in fictional characters more than the real ones.

Nicole had nothing to lose she already lost everything except her job.She worked hard and did her best to hide her loneliness, assuring her four supportive friends even herself that everything was perfect in her life. They knew that she needed love in her life or she would "kill" herself working, and they arranged her blind dates. According to Nicole, men who were chosen by her friends were a complete disaster. Nicole wanted to enjoy in the perfection of fictional characters instead of going on dates with those men.

One night Nicole went out with her friends and met Sebastian, a good looking psychoanalyst. His athletic body and dark green eyes would make her believe that everything was possible.

No matter how hard Nicole tried to find him a flaw, she could not, he was perfect.

After one beautiful and romantic weekend in Aspen Nicole and Sebastian were back in New York, happier and engaged, but Nicole read the article that one magazine published about her exposing her previous life with a shameful secret which wasn't true. She ran away. 

Did Sebastian love her enough to find her and bring her back?