Tuesday 31 July 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up To The Hype 31/7/18

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.

Oh this is a good one. I am always talking about how hype can often break a book because people are fed up of it by the time it comes out or because it has been over hyped and it really isn't that good. So I'm glad to be able to share a list of books that, for me, definitely lived up to the hype!

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Claire Allen Her Name Was Rose

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the blog tour today for Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allen. I interviewed Claire for the blog today and I KNOW you are going to enjoy reading her answers to my questions as much as I did. But first, here's what you need to know about Her Name Was Rose. It is already out so you can order your copy by clicking here. And here's that synopsis for you:

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.
When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.
And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?
But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

Without further ado, here's my interview with Claire!

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing? 
I have always been a writer. Even before I could write! I would draw pictures and fold them altogether to make my own “books”. I grew up in a house where we were always encouraged to read and I think that encouraged me to have a love for reading and writing. I wrote all through secondary school, then opted for a career in journalism because I wanted to make a career out of writing.
I decided to return to writing fiction when I was 29. A very dear friend had passed away and her last words to me had been “Write something good for me, girl!” – I took those words and decided to try and make her proud. Six months later I had finished writing my debut women’s fiction novel.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this? 
I have been writing full time for the last two years, and have been writing for the past 12. So for ten years I combined work with writing. For the first seven years of that, I worked full time as a journalist in a very busy newsroom. My children were also very small. My son was two when I started writing and I gave birth to my daughter between publishing books 2 and 3. So things were very, very hectic at times.
It’s a great privilege to write full time now, although it can take a lot of effort to stay focused!
Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
Before I owned a Kindle, I read women’s fiction almost exclusively. My downtime was precious and I wanted to be sure when I picked a book up it would be I had a high chance of liking. Getting a Kindle, and seeing so many great books on special offer, encouraged me to take more chances with my reading and try new genres.
It’s probably not surprising that women’s fiction and psychological thrillers are my favourite reads now.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
As I’ve started writing Thrillers, I now plan my characters meticulously before I start writing. I will write a full character sketch, describing their physical attributes as well as they quirks and motivations. A lot of the information I jot down won’t even be used in the final book but it means I have a sense of a very real person before I start writing.
I probably take elements of people and use them, but I don’t base characters entirely on real people. The only exception to this was in my book The First Time I Said Goodbye, which was inspired by the true story of a couple I had met during my journalism career. It was written with their permission and guidance.

What was the inspiration behind Her Name Was Rose?
It sounds really cheesy to say it, but the first line “It should have been me”  just came to me in a dream and I couldn’t get shake it.  It kept running through my mind and I started to think about a character who would believe she was responsible for the death of another person through mistaken identity. From that point I’d noticed how the way we grieve has changed in recent years with increased use of social media. People often turn to social media to express their grief and take ownership of public tragedies. It tied into the notion that people only present themselves in certain ways online. That Facebook and Instagram can be “show-homes” for our real lives. They don’t always reflect what is really going on behind the scenes. This is examined for both Rose, who dies on the first page, and Emily, the character who is convinced the speeding car was meant for her.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write in chronological order?
I do map it out now, and generally the main thrust of the story is written chronologically. I know some writers skip between different stages of their books but I have to do it as it will be read, so I can see how it all pans out and comes together.
That said, I quite like a bit of time hop in my writing – jumping back and forth between the present and the past to explain how a character behaves or add a little more depth to the story.
I will generally replot or remap a book three or four times while I’m writing to allow for those unexpected surprises along the way.

How much of you is reflected in your writing? 
I think every writer puts some of themselves in every book. It’s natural. If nothing else I like to think how I would react to the situations I put my characters in. I am the kind of person who wears my heart on my soul and is very open generally, so I suppose I tap into that emotional side of me every time I write.

What kind of research did you do before/during writing Her Name Was Rose?
Honestly? The biggest part of my research went into studying the writing process as I was changing genre. It felt like I was going back to school in many ways, for the technical writing side of things.
My years in journalism provided me with a grounding to be able to write authentically about women who have experienced abusive relationships as I had covered numerous feature articles and conducted many first person interviews on this subject over the years.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
I’d like to say I don’t, but I do. It takes a lot of put a book out there for people to read and it’s only natural to crave feedback. Although, I can mostly now divide reviews into useful ones and ones which don’t help me get better. Getting a critical review can be hard, but if it comes with genuine constructive criticism then it can be a huge help to an author in the future.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Yes, thankfully. Or I would be truly lost. My family is very proud and my father will tell anyone he meets to buy my book! My husband and children are also very proud and supportive. It’s not always easy when mum’s on a deadline and the kids have to take a little back seat for a bit, but they understand it’s my work. They are very much looking forward to my launch. My daughter, who is 9,  has been asking to read the book but I think she will have to wait another few years yet!

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?
I am so, so, so incredibly nervous but also hugely excited.  It has been a long process and my publishers, Avon, have been building such a buzz about the book that I can’t wait to see what happens. But yes, I am so very nervous! I just really hope people will enjoy it!

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
Ah so many! It’s no secret, I love Marian Keyes and she has inspired me for more than 20 years. I’m also a huge fan of Jojo Moyes, Anna McPartlin in more recent times C.L. Taylor and fellow Derry writer Brian McGilloway.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished the first draft of my next thriller, Apple of My Eye which is a story about a mother’s obsessive relationship with her daughter. It’s quite and dark complex storyline, which I hope will draw readers in. At the moment, it’s scheduled for publication in January 2019.

Thank you so much for answering all my probing questions and stopping by the blog today!

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more great content, extracts and reviews!

Monday 30 July 2018

Review: You're on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey

Have you ever wondered what it would be like talk to Parker Posey? On an airplane, with Parker as your seat companion, perhaps? Parker's irreverent, hilarious, and enchanting memoir gives you the incredible opportunity. Full of personal stories, whimsical how-tos, recipes, and beautiful handmade collages created by the author herself, You're On an Airplane is a delight in every way.
In her first book, actress and star of movies such as Dazed and Confused, Party Girl, You've Got Mail, The House of Yes, and so many more, Posey opens up about the art of acting, life on the set, and the realities of its accompanying fame. A funny and colorful southern childhood prepared Posey for a life of creating and entertaining, which not only extends to acting but to the craft of pottery, sewing, collage, yoga and cooking, all of which readers will find in this whimsical, hilarious, always entertaining book. Parker takes us into her childhood home, behind the scenes of the indie film revolution in the 90s, the delightful absurdity of the big-budget genre thrillers she's turned into art in a whole new way, and the creativity that will always be part of both her acting and her personal life.
With Posey's memorable, hilarious and poignant voice, her book gives the reader a feeling of traveling through not only a memoir, but an exploration, meditation, and celebration of what it means to be an artist. Buckle up and enjoy the journey.

Review: I listened to this book on audio and it was read by the author and that's why I love reading a memoir in audio form. The added bonus to listening to this one on audio was that Parker Posey has written this as if she is chatting to the reader on an aeroplane and so we have added audio features such as the sound of the trolley, the sound of her dog and her speaking to us as if we are her seat mate-it was great fun!

One of the other things I love about reading memoirs of actors is the love they have for the film industry and other actors in their field. Parker has some great stories about spending time with actors and directors and also has some great stories about her love of films and actresses from the past. It is great to find out the kind of films that she enjoyed both making and watching.

While she does go into the different films she has made and the TV shows she has starred in, she also talks a lot about her personal life, her childhood and her decision to adopt a dog and become vegan. She also includes things like breathing exercises she does, yoga poses and recipes and talks you through them so you could realistically make the recipe or follow the breathing, I thought this was a real added gem!

Some of the ideas and beliefs she shares are fairly 'unconventional' and that's also what makes this book stand out from other memoirs I have read recently and I liked how open and honest she was about her opinions and ideas on how things should be and what's wrong with the way they are. She also explains why she chose the cover image which really was appreciated. I think even if you haven't seen this actress in a lot of things, this memoir stands up on its own as something to read and enjoy and I really recommend the audiobook!

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

Friday 27 July 2018

Guest Review: Summer at Willow Tree Farm by Heidi Rice

When Ellie spent a summer with her mum on a Wiltshire commune in the 90s it was a bigger disaster than Leo DiCaprio’s trip aboard the Titanic – so fleeing to America seemed a perfect plan.
But now, with her marriage falling apart, running back to her mum seems like the only option for her and her son Josh.
She wasn’t expecting Art, the boy she once had a crush on to still be working at Willow Tree Farm…And still be as hot and bothersome as he was when they were teenagers.
Ellie came to Willow Tree Farm for a fresh start. But is she ready to risk sailing her life – and her heart – into another iceberg?

Review: This is the story of Ellie who, along with small son Josh, has left her cheating husband in the US and returned to her one-time Wiltshire home, Willow Tree Farm, and her estranged mother, Dee. This was not a happy place for her, but it was the only refuge she could think of. However, things have changed greatly since she last saw what was previously a commune and is now a Cooperative-Housing Project. As time goes by, Ellie begins to appreciate her surroundings and the people now living in this place. In particular, she begins to understand her mother better and to get to know Art, a man who, as a boy, made her life a misery when she lived here before. Using her skills as an events planner, Ellie gets involved in plans to make the organic farm into a profitable business. During the process, she begins to wonder what the future holds and if she and Josh will ever return to America. 

I very much enjoyed reading this story. I liked the way it has been written, each part beginning with an excerpt from the diary of Ellie as a teenager in the 1990s, the first time she lived at the farm. Ellie is a lovely person who is still hurting from what happened to her during her childhood and it is wonderful watching her develop into a different woman altogether. Her son Josh also benefits from the change in scene. The way of life people are living at Willow Tree Farm sounds very calm, but there are so many undercurrents not apparent at first glance. The tension between Ellie and Art was at times really intense; I was never quite sure how it was going to resolve, but it was interesting discovering the real Art. 

I think this book has a bit of everything - drama, humour and romance - and would be enjoyed by many.

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

Thursday 26 July 2018

Review: The Rest Of Me by Katie Marsh

Alex Fox knows there are lots of things she should be.
She should be the perfect wife to her chronically ill husband Sam, and the perfect motherto their two daughters. She should be excelling in her high-stress job. And she should be completing the demanding to-do lists she makes to keep herself on track.
Even if, just sometimes, she doesn't have time to breathe.
When Sam's condition worsens and Alex donates a kidney to save his life, her carefully scheduled existence starts to unravel - eventually forcing her to face up to a past that she has buried for years.
As the family she has fought so hard for threatens to fall apart, can Alex finally confront the mistakes that have shaped her - and rediscover what is most important in life?

Review: this book was such a surprise in that I was expecting a book about a husband and wife and their love and their health but what I got was a book with a strong feminist message and a book which highlights the devastating effects of bullying on both children and adults-so unique!

Firstly, I love the way this book is structured. We have a dual narrative between Mum Alex and daughter Izzy. I really love when we have a child narrator even as part of the story because we get such honesty and such innocence when we have a child narrator, it brings a whole other level to the book. I also loved the fact that Alex's sections had the to-do list at the start of them just like on the back of the book so we get to see what state of mind she is even before we start reading her chapters. 

As I've mentioned, we have very different leading characters in this novel. As well as Alex, we have Sam, her husband to whom she gives the kidney. Sam is great and definitely provides the lighter moments of the book, but he's a little naive too because he doesn't always realise what is going on with his wife and children. Izzy is a great character but is such a worrier, she is playing out some of the worries her mum has now and also some of those she had as a child. Jenna is the older daughter of the family and she is also worried about her parents but at the same time as being worried about school, how she looks and sex. 

Alex is a great main character because she has all the worries that we often have as women on a day to day basis but also she has some skeletons from her past that have made her the way she is. We get to find out about those in due course but they have definitely had an impact on the way she lives her life. I also love the fact that Alex notices the discrimination she faces as a women in the workplace but also as a women in the home. She feels like she has to be strong to show her daughters how to be strong but also because she has a husband who has been so sick for so long. I could both sympathise and empathise with her as a character and I loved spending time with her. 

Yes I cried at multiple points in this novel because there are obviously sad and worrying times for this family. But I also cheered at the way Alex and co challenge some of the discrimination that women face. I also loved the fact that even ten year old Izzy was already stomping all over those gender stereotypes and the whole thing just felt very empowering. I was drawn into the story and raced through it in just two sittings. I would definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR!

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

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Review: While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

I don't remember what happened or what has changed.

I can still hear your voices but you can't seem to hear me.

I was about to be married and had everything to look forward to.

Now I have to find a way back - to you, to our family, to us.

Review: Oh my goodness this book broke me, it had me physically sobbing but still continuing to turn the pages because it was also beautifully written and amazingly compelling. The hardest part is that I can't talk about it with anyone who hasn't read it because this book has so many revelations throughout the book I can't give any spoilers away. 

Seriously though, I don't know how Dani Atkins does it. She writes such heartbreaking scenes with characters you care about so much, she puts those people through the most terrible things but you still want to keep reading the book and find out what is going to happen. I was so scared to finish this book because I was so worried about what was going to happen to the lovely friends I had got to know over the course of the novel, but I couldn't stop turning the pages. 

This story is just wonderful It is structured in three parts with main character Maddie's point of view making up the first part, another character's point of view making up the second and then the final part switching perspectives between those two characters. You get to see things from both of these women and you get to feel all the feelings they are feeling and I just loved that. 

The characters in this novel are so easy to love and easy to empathise with because both the main characters and the supporting characters have been through so much you instantly have sympathy for them and want the best for them. They are normal people just going about their every day lives trying to live a good and moral life and then this author writes them into these awful situations and pushes them to the limit. They have stuck with me since I finished the book and I am DESPERATE to find out what they are up to now and whether they are living happy lives!

Yes this book will make you cry, I'm not going to pretend that it won't and it will probably break your heart but I can't recommend reading it enough. It is beautiful and hopeful and once you pick it up you definitely won't want to put it down because the story and the characters are just so wonderful. Dani Atkins has done it again and this is my favourite book of hers yet!

To pre-order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Sensory Reading Memories 24/7/18

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.

This is a great top ten because there are definitely certain books that stick in my mind because of where I was when I was reading them or how they made me feel and so to be able to share them today is great. 

I read this entire thing on a flight from London to Denver and I remember having issues with my seat but not wanting to move because I was so into this!

I read Judy Blume's entire collection on one two week holiday in Scotland and I just remember trying to read in the car but it made me feel sick and so trying to spend extra long going back to a hotel room to get something just to sneak in a few pages!

I read this after my first summer of teaching when I was unemployed and trying really hard to find a job. I picked this up one morning sitting outside and not putting it down again until it was done. I was so sunburned!

I read the majority of this one whilst waiting at the US embassy for a visa appointment. I was nervous about it, I am very time, but this book kept me so engrossed and kept my mind occupied. I told the women who was fingerprinting me at the window that I didn't mind being kept waiting because I had read nearly all of this amazing book!

This one has memories of coffee for me and being alone in my house during a readatHon and how much I loved it. It features in one of my first Instagram pictures with some espresso at some ungodly hour and I had a lot of coffee during this book because it was mentioned so many times. I enjoyed being snuggled up all alone in a Victorian terrace house reading about being in New York and I think even now this book smells of coffee!

Jumping to a whole other experience altogether. This one reminds me of sun cream and tomatoes because i read it on holiday in Sicily while laying on a lounger on the terrace. There I lived off Pasta and Cannolis at night but during the day it was tomatoes and more espresso! This one reminds me of that trip!

This one gave me escapism during a difficult time. I wrote a whole post about this series and how it links with various point of my life here

This was the first psychological thriller I had ever read and will always remind me of my Dad's 60th birthday because I made him wait to go out for his birthday dinner because I had 17 pages left, yes I remember the exact number!

I was reading this book while I was waiting to meet my now husband in Starbucks in Slough for our first date, glamorous I know! He was late, he always is, but it meant more reading time for me!

I read almost the entirety of this book on a flight too, finish as I started. And this was the first time travel book that I had read probably since Narnia and I was just so engrossed with it, the flight seemed so quick!

Let me know in the comments books that have certain memories attached to them for you, there are so many but these ones are super strong!

Monday 23 July 2018

24 in 48 July 18 Readathon Wrap Up

Ok its finally the end of the 24 in 48 readathon. I like this readathon because it allows you to do other things over the course of the weekend and still read loads with lots of other people on the internet!

I'll break down my reading progress then show you what/how many pages I read. I was also vlogging throughout the weekend so lookout for that vlog on my channel and I'll add it to this post when it's ready!

10pm-3am Reading (5 hours total)
3am-7am Sleep
7am-2:30pm Reading (12.5 hours total)
2:30pm-11:30pm Lunch/Concert
The concert was way longer that I thought it was going to be, I thought this was only going to be a few hours out of my readathon, not 9!
11:30pm-2am Reading (15 hours total)
2am-7am Sleep
7am-1pm Reading (21 hours total)
1pm-3pm Nap (fell asleep listening to my audiobook-woops!)
3pm-6:38pm Reading (24.5 hours total yey!)
6:38pm-10pm Eating, resting my eyes and writing this post! (ok so maybe I started a new book, but that totally doesn't count!)

So my stopwatch app seems to be just a little bit silly. I was trying to remember to screenshot but it crashed so this is the last screenshot that I took...

I didn't do all the challenges but completed the 'read books' spreadsheet on the 24 in 48 website. I did some of the challenges and I won a prize as well, so exciting! I updated on Goodreads, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram stories of course. 

This was the first book I finished in the readthon. I was already 102 pages into it and so I read 298 pages of this one to finish it. 

This was the one I wanted to finish this weekend. I knew it was one I wanted to read all at once because it was such an emotional book and I wanted to digest all that emotion all at once. This was 537 pages and I loved every single word! 

In hindsight, 2 emotional books when you're reading in the wee small hours of the morning was maybe a mistake...


I listened to this one on audiobook. To begin with I listend to it whilst making food, having a shower of ready to fall asleep so I would rest my eyes and then when While I Was Sleeping was finished I dedicated the rest of my time to finishing this audiobook. I thought about switching to the physical copy I got from the library but my eyes, I think, were done and my head hurt so I stuck to the audio. It was very well narrated. This was 352 pages. 

Altogether I read 1187 pages, I can feel it believe me! I read 2 complete books and the last 2/3 of another book. I think I've read more complete books in previous readathons but I'm happy with that. I think my eyes were more tired from crying at the first 2 books I read to be honest. I can't wait for the next readathon and I'm looking forward to the next on, I've already got my TBR lined up!

Did you participate in the readathon? Let me know what you read this weekend either way!

Review: When Life Gives You Lululemons (The Wives) by Lauren Weisberger

He set her up. They’ll bring him down.
Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. A successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood stars, she cut her teeth as assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly in New York. But with Snapchatting millennials stealing her clients, Emily needs to get back in the game – and fast.
She holes up at the home of her oldest friend Miriam in the upscale suburb of Greenwich. And when Miriam’s friend, model Karolina Hartwell, is publicly dumped by her husband Graham, a senator with presidential ambitions, Emily scents the client of a lifetime.
It’s not just Karolina’s reputation that’s ruined. It’s her family. And Miriam and Emily are determined he won’t get away with it. First they’ll get Karolina’s son back. Then they’ll help her get her own back. Because the wives are mad as hell . . .

 The Wives: Emily Charlton is back in a new Devil Wears Prada novel by [Weisberger, Lauren]

Review: I'd been looking forward to reading this one for ages and there was definitely a lot of hype surrounding it but I can definitely tell you that the hype was worth it, this book was so much fun! I really loved, first and foremost, the way this book was structured. Each chapter heading has a line from that chapter as the title which were just hilarious things that you could only find in a society such as that featured in the novel. I also loved the fact that each chapter dealt with one of our three main characters. 

I found catching up with Emily again really easy to do because she was such a great character from Devil Wears Prada. She hasn't changed much but her life is very different now. I loved that fact that she really hasn't changed much and is still in touch with Miranda, I don't think I would have been able to cope with a soft Emily when the Emily I know and love is tough and determined. I loved the new characters we meet as well and could definitely picture the way they fit into this story and they way they would fit into real life. Karolina is all glamorous up front but really all she acres about is loving her family and Miriam is just a typical mother thinking she's not doing a good job, worrying about her marriage and longing for the career she gave up to move to the suburbs!

This book also has all the glamour and drama that the first 2 books in this series had. One of the things I loved about the the first book was showing a New York society that I will never be part of and how that all works and we get a glimpse of that again in this book with with a little Washington DC society and a lot of Connecticut society thrown in. There really is just drama on every page. Drama around baby showers, sex toy parties, political scandal and of course what to wear to social functions in the yummy mummy circles!

This book had a little bit of everything and really was a lot of fun to read. I do hope we get to visit these characters again soon because reading this was pure escapism and I loved it!

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

Sunday 22 July 2018

Film Reviews July 15th-21st

Well this week was another good week for movie watching, i enjoyed most things I went to see! I didn't pay for anything out of pocket this week except for Oli's ticket! 

I also leave my video review for each of these films at the bottom of this post each week, I would love it you would support my BookTube channel!

This film was awesome. It starts off as being the story of these three guys who find each other and then gets a whole lot darker. This is an excellent documentary by channel four that is on general theatre release over here!

This film started out as a dark comedy with some interesting thoughts on racial discrimination's as well as the divide between middle and working classes but then gets really really odd. I almost feel like I was to review the first half of this film separately from the latter half. I wouldn't recommend this one. 

So I never thought I would go and see this film, that's the beauty of Movie Pass I suppose. And I haven't seen the previous 18 films but now I kind of want to, never thought I would be saying that either. The start of this film was a bit slow for me but i think that's probably because I didn't know who all the characters were but once things picked up I really enjoyed the action and the humour!

I mean of course i loved this one. It was as cheesy as anything and some of the Dad's scenes were seriously cringey but that's Dads for you. I like that this one had ABBA songs not everyone will have heard of. I liked that some of it was set in the UK and I liked that we had parallel storylines going on. Cher is serious hammed up but in a really good way and there are some other interesting cameos to look out for so keep your eyes peeled! Also stay until the end of the credits for a bonus little scene!