Friday 30 March 2018

March 2018 Wrap Up

Welcome to another wrap up. Because I was travelling during the end of March and beginning of April I decided to make my March end a little sooner than the actual Month and make April a longer month, a bit odd but it suited what I needed at the time so my April TBR will actually begin on the 22nd March...

Considering the fact that I ended March early, I still managed to read a load of wonderful books! As always, I'll divide these up by the type of books that I read and leave links to any reviews I have already posted!


My Review

Physical Books


Thursday 29 March 2018

Blog Tour: Extract From The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert

Today I have an extract from the new novel by Jane Lambert to share with you. You can order The Start of Something Wonderful by clicking here

You can watch the book trailer here.

And here's what it's all about:

Previously published as Learning to Fly

It’s never too late to follow your dreams…

Forty-year-old air stewardess, Emily Forsyth, thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…
Catapulted into a mid-life crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside-down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress!
Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?

Are you ready for the extract?
 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Hayyaa’ala-s-salah, hayya ’ala-l-falah …’ came the haunting call from the mosque across the square, summoning worshippers to evening prayer. It was almost time to meet up with the crew to mosey around the souk – again. Too hot to sunbathe, room service menu exhausted, library book finished, alcohol forbidden, and no decent telly (only heavily edited re-runs of The Good Life, where Tom goes to kiss Barbara, and next minute it cuts to Margo shooing a goat off her herbaceous border), so the gold market had become the highlight of my day.
Donning my abaya (a little black number that is a must-have for ladies in this part of the world), I scrutinised myself in the full-length mirror. No wonder Nigel was leaving me; far from looking like a mysterious, exotic, desert queen, full of eastern promise, it made me resemble a walking bin liner.
I read the fire evacuation drill on the back of the door and checked my mobile for the umpteenth time, then cast my eyes downwards, studying my toes. I know, I thought, giving them a wee wiggle, I’ll paint my nails. It’s amazing what a coat of Blue Ice lacquer can do to make a girl feel a little more glamorous, and less like Ugly Betty’s granny.
As I rummaged in my crew bag for my nail varnish, there, stuffed in between Hello! and Procedures To Be Followed in the Event of a Hijack, was an old copy of The Stage (with another DO NOT PHONE HIM!! Post-it Note stuck to it). Idly flicking through the pages, my eyes lit up at the headline:
Former computer programmer, Kevin Wilcox, 40, went for broke when he gave up his 50k-a-year job to become a professional opera singer. ‘My advice to anyone contemplating giving up their job to follow their dream is to go for it,’ said Kevin, taking a break from rehearsals of La Traviata at La Scala.
That was my life-changing moment: an affirmation that there were other people out there – perfectly sane people – who were not in the first flush of youth either, but were taking a chance. That’s what I’d do. I’d become an actress, and Nigel would see my name in lights as he walked along Shaftesbury Avenue, or when he sat down to watch Holby City, there I’d be, shooting a doe-eyed look over a green surgical mask.
‘What a fool I was,’ he’d tell his friends ruefully, ‘to have ever let her go.’ Hah!
But revenge wasn’t my only motive. Faux designer bags and expensive makeovers were no longer important to me. I wanted the things that money can’t buy: like self-fulfilment, like the buzz you get on opening night, stepping out on stage in front of a live audience. Appearing through the galley curtains, proclaiming that well-rehearsed line, ‘Would you like chicken or beef?’ just wouldn’t do any more.
Inspired, I grabbed the telephone pad and pen from the bedside table, and started to scribble furiously.
Apply to RADA/CENTRAL any drama school that will have me.
Hand in notice.
Sign up with temping agencies and find part-time job.
Sell flat, shred Visa, store cards, cancel gym membership, and Vogue subscription (ouch!).
Ever since I’d played Bill Sikes in a school production of Oliver! I’d wanted to act. Being tall at an all-girls school meant I never got to play Nancy, Maria, or Dorothy. But I didn’t care. Even having to kiss Kirstie McCallum who played Fiona opposite my Tommy in Brigadoon hadn’t deterred me.
I’d write my own shows, which I’d perform for Mum, Dad, Sammy the dog, and the neighbours. I loved to tell stories; to share, to feel, to emote. I was a shy, gawky kid with a vivid imagination and acting allowed me to disappear into a role.
My bedroom walls were plastered with posters of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Pretty Woman, Doctor Zhivago, and Dirty Dancing.
I’d dress up for the Oscars and pose on the red shag pile, tell the interviewer what an honour it was just to be nominated, rise slowly from my seat in disbelief, and accept my award, fighting back the tears as I thanked my parents, my friends, and God for making this possible.
So what got in the way?
‘Drama school?’ spluttered Miss Crabb, my head teacher. ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Acting’s not a career! What about university?’
‘You need to wake up, Em,’ Mum said despairingly, rolling her eyes. ‘I should never have let you go to Saturday Showstoppers when you were ten. It’s put silly ideas in your head. Now, what about the Foreign Office? You’re good at languages …’
Persuaded that teachers and mums know best, I packed my dream away and scraped through university, where I spent more time acting in and producing plays than studying stuffy old Schiller or fusty Flaubert. I wisely left academia behind and joined Amy Air. If I wasn’t allowed to be an actress then I would at least pay off my student debt doing something fun and adventurous.
New York was my favourite route. While the rest of the crew would spend our brief stopover snuggled up in the hotel with room service and a movie, I’d dash along to Times Square on West 42nd Street and buy a ticket to a Broadway show. Jet lag miraculously forgotten, I’d be transported to a magical world far from turbulence and sick bags.
When the curtain came down, I’d skip along the shimmering streets of The Great White Way back to the hotel, reliving the performance in my mind, imagining the scene backstage: the post-show euphoria, the drinks, the conversation. And a bit of me regretted that I hadn’t believed in myself enough to ignore the naysayers and pursue the one thing I felt truly passionate about. Secretly I never stopped hoping though, that someday, somehow …
Then I met Nigel and the dream was buried once more. Charming, charismatic, athletic, sophisticated, dashing-in-uniform Nigel, a modern-day superman, in control of a 747 – and of my future happiness.
Now in my thirties, time was running out if I wanted to have children, and though he didn’t say as much, I knew Nigel and I were destined to be together for ever.
Fast-forward eight years, and here I am, forty, heartbroken, childless, and soon to be homeless.
But through all the despair, there’s a little voice deep down whispering to me, telling me to turn this crisis into an opportunity; to have the courage this time to follow my intuition, to listen to my heart, take responsibility for my own happiness, and not allow others to dictate the course of my life.
Okay, so it’s taken nearly a quarter of a century to reach this place, but this time nothing and no one is going to hold me back.

* * *

Thanks so much to Jane for stopping by today and sharing this extract with us. You can follow Jane for news about this book and future books by following these links!

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Review: Our House by Louise Candlish

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.
Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.

For better, for worse.
When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all her belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared.
For richer, for poorer.
The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been turned upside by a nightmare of their own making.  A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?
Till death us do part.

Review: Wow, wow, wow! This book is just beyond the realms of everything I've read before and it completely blew me away. This book is so cleverly written you'll find yourself finishing it and wanting to go back and read it again just to try and look for clues to all those things you never saw coming. In terms of plot, this book just has it all and then some. Bravo to Louise Candlish for writing this, I am incredibly jealous but incredibly in awe of her all at the same time. This is my first Louise Candlish novel but she will now become one of my autobuy authors that is for sure!

Now onto the characters, also incredibly complex. I;m really not sure if I loved any of them but I could definitely sympathise with Fi, I mean what would you do and how would you feel if you came back from a trip away to find strangers moving into your house? There are definitely some characters you can love to hate in this one, some villains you boo every time they come on the page and scoff at every time they speak (yes I did this out loud) and then, again very cleverly, there are the characters who you begin to change your mind about as the book progresses. 

Some of the events and people that come out as this story unfolds are really quite mind-blowing so some of the issues dealt with here are certainly not for the faint hearted. But it is the structure of this book that also needs to be applauded. There is some aspect of narration. We have sections at the beginning and end of the book that are narrated in the first and the third person, setting the scene and then closing it in some aspect. But the rest of the book is told through a podcast narrated by Fi, reactions to that podcast on Twitter or the podcast chat and then a word document written by husband Bram. Its genius because by the time I got the end of one section, I had to read on to find out how the other person saw that thing happening, and then back to the original person to see what happened next and back and forth and so on. I am glad that i read the majority of this book on a flight where I couldn't be interrupted by my phone/emails!

The ending of this book is somewhat abrupt and I am sure that a few people will close this book and shout at it because 'that can't be it' but I liked the way this book is resolved. I feel that what happens at the end of the book is appropriate to the events and the characters and again is a bold but clever choice by this author. I highly recommend getting your hands on this book and reading it immediately, but if you'll excuse me, I'm going to be busy buying Louise Candlish's backlist!

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

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Take Place in Another Country

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Ok well a year or so ago I would have probably listed a load of books that take place in New York or other cities in the unite states for this particular list but I now live in the USA after living in the UK for 30 years so I'm not sure where to start with this one. I will try my hardest to list books that have countries other than those. Here goes...

Czech Republic












As you can see, Isabelle Broom is a big contributor to this list, she writes books in fabulously exotic places!

Monday 26 March 2018

Blog Tour: Extract from Love Among the Treetops by Catherine Ferguson

Today I am very excited to share an extract with you from the brand new book by Catherine Ferguson. Here's what it's all about....

Can love flourish amongst the tree tops?

When pastry chef Twilight Wilson was a young girl, she would hide from school bullies up in the treehouse at the bottom of her garden in her family home in Sussex. It was her special place, and even as an adult she still loves it.

So when her family tell her they can’t afford to live there any more, Twilight is devastated. Not only will they lose their home – but the treehouse too!

She comes up with a plan to save the family home – she’ll start up a cafe in the treehouse! It’s a brilliant idea, and excitement builds as she starts planning the menus, with the help of Theo – a rather attractive man from the gym. But when former school bully Lucy finds out the plan, she starts plotting – and opens her own rival cafe in the village!

Can Twilight save her family home? Will her friendship with Theo ever be anything more? And who will win the cafe wars?

You can order your copy by clicking here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more reviews, extracts and other exclusive content!

Thank  you to Catherine for sharing this extract with us all today!

A week goes by and the buzz around Lucy & Olivia’s Clean Food Café is showing no signs of dispersing.

In humiliating contrast, business is far from brisk at The Twilight Café. Starbucks, it’s fair to say, can definitely rest easy.

I can actually count the number of regular customers on the fingers of two hands – possibly three, if you factor in our local postie, who often calls for a quick espresso after finishing his rounds. I feel silly now thinking of how excited I was before the café opened – what high hopes I had for its success.

On the plus side, after doing the accounts, I was able to report to Paloma that the café almost broke even last week.

That, of course, was down to the loyal patronage of friends like Betty and Doreen, who’ve been in for coffee and cake practically every day since I opened. The girls I was friendly with at school have also been great at showing their support. Some of them are mums now, and they’ve started meeting here several times a week. They bring their toddlers and babies to play in the pre-school activity area I’ve set up, while they drink strong coffee and chat gloomily about how lack of sleep can actually kill you.

Some of Mum’s friends from the WI also come in from time to time. They think it’s an absolute scandal how Lucy sabotaged my big opening day, and they’re apparently spreading the word, hoping that people will start boycotting the Clean Food Café. (She’s not just ‘Lucy’ to them any more, she’s ‘That Lucy Slater’.)

I’m so thankful to the people who are supporting me. They keep me going through my most despairing times, such as the mornings when I don’t have a single customer through the door.

Today, I’ve got the ‘mums and babies’ in, which I like. It’s a stark contrast to the dead silence I’ve grown to dread. Betty is also here with her daughter, Jess, and sitting at another table are a couple I don’t know at all, which is quite a novelty. I’m relatively run off my feet this afternoon!

I’m through the back, stacking cups and plates into the dishwasher when I hear the door open. Checking my reflection in the little mirror by the fridge, I try out a welcoming smile and then hurry through to greet the arrivals.

One customer. My heart skips nervously.
Theo Steel.

Friday 23 March 2018

Review: Misogynation by Laura Bates

Laura Bates, pioneering feminist, activist and bestselling author, has given voice to hundreds of thousands of women through her international Everyday Sexism Project. Drawing attention to both hidden and blatant sexist acts and attitudes, Laura has exposed the startling truth behind misogyny in our society: systemic, ingrained and ignored.

From Weinstein to Westminster, a torrent of allegations of sexual harassment and assault have left us reeling. One hundred years since some women were first given the right to vote, we are still struggling to get to grips with the true extent of gender inequality that continues to flourish in our society.

In this collection of essays, originally published in the Guardian, Laura Bates uncovers the sexism that exists in our relationships, our workplaces, our media, in our homes and on our streets, but which is also firmly rooted in our lifelong assumptions and in the actions and attitudes we explain away, defend and accept. Often dismissed as one-offs, veiled as 'banter' or described as 'isolated incidents', MISOGYNATION joins the dots to reveal the true scale of discrimination and prejudice women face.  

A bold, witty and incisive analysis of current events, MISOGYNATION makes a passionate argument for stepping back, opening our eyes and allowing ourselves to see the bigger picture.

Review: Another amazing read from Laura Bates. If you know me, I will have tried to push a Laura Bates book on you at some point and so you won't be surprised to hear that I loved this one just as much as the others. I read this on ebook and then re-read it on audiobook because this audiobook is read by the author and so was even more wonderful than reading it on my Kindle. 

This is a collection of columns written by the author including some discussion pieces, some advice pieces and some top ten lists. the top ten lists were humours even given the subject that they were concerning. Laura Bates knows how to write about what should be fundamental human rights and them not being granted to specific groups of women or all women and make it engaging and entertaining. I don't know how she does it but I am in awe of her and will read everything that she writes. 

In this book, Laura Bates highlights some groups of women that are sometimes passed over in other collections of feminist essays or notes on misogyny and she also highlights programmes that are out there to help women and support the fight against Everyday Sexism that I didn't know about. I love the fact that these are highlighted for me. This collection gets a little more political than her previous books and i applaud her fro including this in her writing, it is a brave thing in our current climate!

Because this is a collection of essays, this is something I will be coming back to and re-reading section of that I find relevant as things come up in my life. I have done this with both of her previous novels and so I will be adding a physical copy to my Kindle copy and my audiobook of this one. If you are interested in reading about gender equality and the fact that everyday sexism still exists...everyday then you need to add this book to your collection and I suggest that you do that now.

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

Thursday 22 March 2018

Review: The Fear by C L Taylor

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

Review: Wow this book was so intense. I love CL Taylor's thrillers, they just transport me into the book and it's like I'm living the whole thing along with the characters. This story is just full of twists and turns, every few pages you think you know what's going to happen but you absolutely don't. Just when you think things are starting to come together, they're really not!

Lou is a great main character to go in this novel journey with because she is just like you and me. But then you find out that there is so much more to her than meets the eye. I never feel like I really got to know Lou, she never fully let her barriers down for me, but I can forgive her that, that's for sure. There are a few other female supporting characters in this novel too and I found those characters, despite being quite different to me, to be easy to get along with as well. Strong characters meant that I didn't feel alone going through everything they were going through!

The setting of this novel is also easy to picture, this author uses actual road names and place names and so you can put yourself into this English rural setting and continue to live this story alongside the characters. This novel definitely deals with some difficult issues, I don;t want to list exactly what because I don't do spoilers but I think that they are incredibly well-written and sensitive to those who might have gone through any of the things that these characters have. There are some quite violent scenes as well, as you might expect from a thriller, but they are also fabulously written and scared me but made me want to read on and find out more. 

I love C L Taylor's novels and this one is no exception, I read it in two sittings because I had to find out what was going to happen and I know you're going to love it!

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

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Guest Review: Just For the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

Review: This is just my second Sue Moorcroft book. Having previously read and enjoyed a story published for Christmas, I decided to read some more of her books. This one attracted my attention particularly due to its colourful and engaging cover. Having been invited in by that and the intriguing synopsis, I started reading and was instantly lost in the story. 

The lady at the centre of this story is Leah, an accomplished cook, chocolate taster by trade and car enthusiast. She is looking forward to her garden leave between jobs relaxing, enjoying the summer weather, and meeting up with best friend and fellow car buff, Scott, from time to time. However, being a devoted sister, she is persuaded instead to accompany her sibling, Michele, and her two teenagers on a month's holiday in France. The gite they have rented has a lovely self-contained annexe to give Leah some privacy, so it shouldn't be all bad. Unfortunately, Leah gets a little more than she bargained for. It's an unbelievably eventful holiday, with teenage problems, divorced and separated couples, mishaps and a shock pregnancy. But then, next door, a rather dishy helicopter pilot, Ronan, is spending his holiday with his teenage son. Could there be the promise of a holiday romance for Leah?

I found this a compelling story. Once started, I really didn't want to put it down. Just when you think that all has been sorted out for the characters, something else comes along. I found myself gasping in amazement a few times. Leah is an amazing person; she was so put upon by Michele and her family, but she soldiered on through the many situations they imposed on her. I really enjoyed Leah's interactions with the teenagers in the story. However, I found Michele just plain irritating. I could not believe what she expected from Leah. 

In summary, I would recommend this book to anyone. It would make lovely summer reading, but I'm sure would entertain at any time of the year. I'm looking forward now to my next Sue Moorcroft book. 

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