Wednesday 31 October 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Year The Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

I am very excited to be part of the blog tour today celebrating The Year The Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly. This book is out now and you can click here to order your copy. Today I am going to be sharing my review of this novel with you but don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for me reviews, interviews and other exclusive content!

Three women, three birthdays, one year that will change everything...
Ginger isn't spending her thirtieth the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life - or a total disaster.
Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her fortieth birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?
Callie is celebrating her fiftieth at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party changes everything...
Treat yourself to the heartwarming and life-affirming new story from international bestseller Cathy Kelly

Review: This is such an original premise for a book. Three women all having milestone birthdays and not all of them quite living up to expectations. For me the strength of this book lies right here, things not living up to expectations. Cathy Kelly really sheds a lights on what being a woman at these milestone ages is actually like compared to what society deems it should be.

This book tackles some difficult issues as well and does so very well. It covers what happens when marriages end unexpectedly, the difficulty in having a baby and really delves deep into body image. I could relate to all of these characters even though I most identify with Ginger, and not just because I'm in my 30s too!

These characters are all unique but have a connection. We don't see them reveal that connection until much later on in the book. As I have mentioned above, I felt the most empathy with Ginger, she is a great character to read about and I would love to hear more from her in the future! Sam is also very easy to get along with and I can definitely see aspects of her in my girlfriends. I feel like Callie has the most thrown at her in this novel, she has a very difficult ride, even if on the surface it doesn't seem that way. 

Obviously this book has multiple narratives and I did struggle a little to identify where we were in each of the characters storylines when we picked back up with them again because each of their sections was quite long. Once I got back into each of their worlds though, I enjoyed going on this journey with them. I think this switching did slow down the pace of the book a little for me, even though I am normally a fan of a multiple narrative. Cathy Kelly's charm and wit shine through though and I say this is a plot which is unique and I'd love to see more of! 

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Guest Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Join Sarah Morgan this Christmas and treat yourself to this feel-good festive read about mothers and daughters, romance and drama, and Christmastime in Scotland!
It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree, but who’s around it that matters most.
All Suzanne McBride wants for Christmas is her three daughters happy and at home. But when sisters Posy, Hannah and Beth return to their family home in the Scottish Highlands, old tensions and buried secrets start bubbling to the surface.
Suzanne is determined to create the perfect family Christmas, but the McBrides must all face the past and address some home truths before they can celebrate together . . .
This Christmas indulge in some me-time and enjoy this uplifting and heart-warming story from international bestseller Sarah Morgan. 

Review: I love a book by Sarah Morgan, and a Christmas book to boot - well I'm really excited to read it now. This one, with its incredibly beautiful Christmassy cover, caught my imagination from the start and had me reading on when I really should have been doing something else. 

This story is about the McBride sisters, Hannah, Beth and Posy, all affected in different ways by a tragedy that befell them at a young age, robbing them of their parents. They always come together at their adoptive parents' home in the Scottish highlands at Christmas, where mother Suzanne pulls out all the stops to make everything really special for them. With memories of the tragic accident hanging over everybody, but never spoken about, things tend to be tense in the household, but this Christmas turns out to be different from others for the whole family. Each of the girls has something going on in their lives that is reaching crisis point, and Suzanne herself is struggling to cope with all the tasks she must complete before the big day. This would be a good time for the girls to pull together. 

Sarah Morgan has done it again - another wonderful, heartwarming Christmas story packed with drama and romance. I loved the totally believable characters and I loved the snowy Scottish setting. The format of the book was great too; it was like reading 4 stories within one cover, as each chapter dealt with one of the women in particular. The only thing I might have liked would have been to hear more from Suzanne's husband, Stewart. I thought he was just lovely - calm, patient and understanding all of the women in his life, ready to stand by them whatever. I would recommend this book as a Christmas read, although you could read it at any time, but you would definitely end up feeling Christmassy at the end anyway. 

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

Monday 29 October 2018

Blog Tour: Review of Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain

I'm very excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain. Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour as it continues for more exclusive content, giveaways and reviews! I'm sharing my review of this wonderful book below but here's what it's all about: 

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.
As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.
Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

Review: Oh it was wonderful to be back at Wynthorpe Hall again and back with characters I was familiar with, I think I would enjoy a little festive holiday there every Christmas please! This book is a follow up to last year's Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair. If you're not planning on reading that one at all then you don't need to read it first but if you don't want to be spoiled for that one then I would definitely suggest going back and enjoying that one before picking up this one, reading them back to back would be an amazing experience!

This book follows Hayley, who we meet in Sleigh Rides but we don't get to find out an awful lot about her. Boy is there way more to Hayley than meets the eye. During parts of the novel she reminded me a little of Anna from Sleigh Rides because she has her guard way up and it seems like no one is going to be able to bring it down, but of course she is more familiar with the ways of Wynthorpe Hall and so fits in a gets on with the other characters in a very different way. I really liked her as a character and enjoyed spending time with her. I think she is an optimist at heart and really does want the best for everyone even if she has been dealt a particularly bad lot in life!

It was great seeing Angus and Catherine and Dorothy again. We also have cameos from other Wynbridge residents throughout the book so if you have read all of Heidi's previous novels there are plenty of Easter eggs there for you. I was so pleased to see that the giant Advent calendar was back again this year too-I swear that advent calendar has magic powers, powers to make people happy and bring people together, it's wonderful. 

This would be a fabulous book to read at Christmas time, or the run up to the holidays at least because of all the festive food, You can practically smells the Christmas pudding spices coming off the page and don't get me started on the cosy kitchen and the roaring ires. But I also think that this book would work at any time of year as it is as much about Hayley and her character's journey as it is about the festive time of year at Wynthrope. It was awesome to be back with these characters and I can't wait to hear more from them soon!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US (published 1st November in the UK)

Sunday 28 October 2018

Movie Reviews: October 14th-27th

Ok here are the reviews for films that I have seen in cinemas in the last TWO weeks. If you want to know more detailed thoughts on any of these then I will leave my video review down below and you can click on that!

I saw three new releases and two older films in the movie theatre this week-exciting times!

I loved this film, it totally does justice to the book. It is intense and emotional but it literally gives you ALL the feels so you really don't leave this one feeling down or depressed, you feel you have laughed and you're hopeful for the future! I also made a book vs movie video on this one if you would like to go and check that out!

This one was really great, but I think I really enjoyed it because I am a massive fan of the franchise as a whole. There are a lot of mirroring of scenes from the original two movies and that was great as a fan. It also has some of the original stars in as well which is wonderful. I don't think it stands up well on its own as a horror film though. I think if you're already a fan, you'll love it, otherwise it will just be so so. 

This was such an awful film, I just don't know what it is trying to be. There are so many great comedians in this film as well, every time someone awesome would be added to film I would think "oh great, they're here to save the movie' but they weren't there for that. This film also gets quite violent which isn't suggested at all from the poster. Do not recommend this one!

Yes, I hadn't seen this movie before-I know! This is such a Disney movie. the Sanderson sisters are reasonably scary but also really quite funny! Some of the classic 90s relationships and clothing were quite cringey but overall this was a great start to my Halloween film Marathon!

I have seen this one on the big screen before but with the shadow actors in front of it and in an older theatre so it was great to see it in the cinema 'properly' just sit back in my recliner and enjoy! I loved seeing just how much makeup everyone had on and hear the songs loud and proud as they should be. If you get chance to see this on the big screen, I really recommend it!

Friday 26 October 2018

Review: Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss

Every twenty-or thirty-something women knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence.Spurred by the commerical success of Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club, these paperbacks were cheap, short, and utterly beloved. Paperback Crush revists this golden age with affection and just a little snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (Cheerleaders and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait). Some were bllatant rip-offs of successful series (Sleepover Friends), some were sick-lit tear-jerkers (Abby, My Love) and some were plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire?)? But all of them represent that time gone by of girl power and sustained silent reading.

Review: Oh I absolutely loved this book and I knew that I would. This explains the history and the cultural context of so many of my favourite middle grade and YA novels from the 90s. It mentions more well-known books like Babysitter's club and Sweet Valley High but also delves into various other lesser known series and standalone novels from the time centred around specific topics. 

I love how the book is broken into the different topics and isn't written chronologically so if you wanted to start with the horror novels and then move onto books set in and around schools then you could. The author also references where series or books are mentioned in other sections and gives specific page numbers so you can flick back and forth. 

There are awesome photos of the original (and sometimes other editions of) covers of these books and series on every page and each of them comes with a caption which is usually hilariously snarky and made for very entertaining reading. The book is also interspersed with interviews with authors, cover models and publishers as well as some top ten books and subjects so it is never very heavy reading. 

I like the way the book is structured because I didn't read a lot of horrors or thriller when I was a teen and so I didn't get as much from those sections as I did from the sections about friendship, sex and schools. I also the love the way the various jobs that teenagers have in these books is covered, when you see them all collected together in one publication like this, it really is mind-blowing. I learned a lot from this book about the culture at the time these books were published, which books were banned and which were just re-purposed ideas from earlier on in the twentieth century so if you've every picked up a Babysitter's Club novel, a Sweet Valley High Novel or been obsessed with Judy Blume, this is a must-read for you!

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

Thursday 25 October 2018

Blog Tour: Extract From The Cornish Village School-Second Chances by Kitty Wilson

I am very lucky to be part of the blog tour for The Cornish Village School-Second Chances today. I even have the first chapter to share with you! The book came out on October 4th in the UK and you can click here to order your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Here's what it's all about:

Ex-ballerina and single mum Sylvie is in trouble. Juggling her ballet classes in the nearest town, preparing shy Sam for his first day at Penmenna Village school and trying to finally move out from the farm she shares with her cantankerous Uncle Tom means life is anything but easy.

Television Journalist Alex is facing challenges of his own. Seeking a calmer environment for his newly adopted daughter, Ellie, he’s swapped reporting in war zones for the school PTA in quiet Penmenna, where his best friend Chase has persuaded him to start laying some roots.

Fireworks ignite when Sylvie and Alex meet but as Ellie and Sam become instant best friends, will they be able to keep things strictly platonic for the sake of the children?

The second book in the feel-good and rib-tickling Cornish Village School series. Perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and Cathy Bramley.

Chapter One

Sylvie felt Sam’s little hand grasp hers even tighter as they rounded the corner by the pub and turned down past the butcher’s. The sand was spilling out onto the pavement as they approached the beach, the golden grains signalling their arrival long before they set foot on the beach proper. She knew, if she glanced at him, his little teeth would be clenched with excitement. 

They had been here every sunny day throughout summer and most of spring, and if truth be told they’d been here on the odd rainy one too. Sylvie had a feeling they could come every day forever and neither she nor Sam would ever get bored. In fact, that was her plan. 

The beach opened up wide in front of them, and as they reached the bit where pavement ended and beach began, they kicked off their flip-flops in a tradition they had built ever since Sam could walk. A quickly embedded ritual meant that the two of them bent over at the same time to pick their shoes up and glanced at each other and smiled. It was a shared signal that their beach day had started and that the next couple of hours would be nothing but heavenly. 

The two of them had developed the perfect day over the last couple of months. Chores in the morning, when Sylvie would help her uncle out with the day-to-day running of the farm and Sam would be expected to get on with his work too. Work that largely involved his action figures and a city he would construct out of blocks, carefully colour coding each bit. And then as the sun began to fade from its midday high the two of them would grab their beach stuff, piled by the door next to the wellies and walking sticks, and make their way into the village.

Sylvie knew the sting of sunburn – as a child she merely had had to look out of the window and she’d fry. With Sam sharing her freckles, red (really red) hair and the pale skin that came with it she made sure that there was no way her child would experience blisters raised on his ears as her uncle used to out on the farm all day, or toss and turn at night – too burnt to sleep. 

The spades, body-boards and buckets would be grabbed, the swim shoes and the rash vest dried out by the Aga from the day before, and the two of them would slather each other in factor fifty, with special attention paid to the neck and the ears. Fruit and water would be thrown into a bag along with a book each and then the two would race to the car, spades dropped to the floor as they put seat belts on and turned the music up loud, singing all of Sam’s favourite songs on the short journey from Lovage Farm into Penmenna. Sometimes as they belted it out together she thought she might love ‘Wheels on the Bus’ more now than she ever did at four. Other times she suspected she might hit saturation point Very Soon Indeed.

Back on the beach now, they felt the sand squidge between their toes as they headed to their favourite spot, getting damper and squidgier the closer they came to the water. She raised a hand to a group of mums from the village who were just leaving, and again to Alice, who was sitting at the foot of the cliff, engrossed in her book. Her heart melted as Sam saw their little spot – tucked away next to a natural stream running from the cliff straight down to the sea, perfect for keeping their water cool in the sun – and ran towards it. He was more confident here than anywhere else, the shadow recently cast over the farm still failing to shift completely.

Happy to let go of her hand to shake his towel out and claim his spot, he stopped short as she watched and turned back around to face her, perplexion written all across his little freckled face. 

For the whole of summer that spot had been theirs. At no point, even at the peak of Regatta week, had they turned up to find the crime of all crimes committed – someone else’s towel. But today there was. Two to be precise. One great big luxurious one that looked like it should be rolled into a glamorous curl on some chichi hotel bed and one covered with little foxes’ faces, next to a small matching bag. Cute. But not theirs. 

Sam looked at her for answers, and she was tempted to pick them up and place them just over there, a couple of feet away. Or perhaps she could chuck them behind the cluster of boulders piled up near the entrance to the cave. Or, if she could persuade Sam to close his eyes, she could peg it down to the shoreline super-fast, throw them out to sea and then come back and pretend she didn’t know what had happened. Although, of course, she would not do either. Instead she would use it as time to educate Sam about public spaces and the need to share them, no matter how personal they felt, how much you saw them as yours. 

‘It’s OK, Mum. We can just go the other side of the stream.’

‘Plan, Sam. Like the way you’re thinking.’ OK, so the four-year-old didn’t need the lesson, that would just be her. 

Author Bio

Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Twitter: @KittyWilson23

Thank you so much to Kitty for stopping by the blog today and sharing the first chapter with us. Remember to check out the other stops on the blog tour and of course follow Kitty on Twitter!

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Review: To Make Monsters of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

What happens when the man of your dreams turns out to be a nightmare with sharp teeth and claws?"

Winner of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Poetry, amanda lovelace presents her new illustrated duology, “things that h(a)unt.” In this first installment, to make monsters out of girls, lovelace explores the memory of being in an abusive relationship. She poses the eternal question: Can you heal once you’ve been marked by a monster, or will the sun always sting?

Review: This is a fabulous new collection of poetry by one of my favourites, Amanda Lovelace. This is going to be the first in the Things That H(a)unt Duology. If you loved Amanda's previous books then you will definitely like this one and this has awesome added illustrations which loosely connect with some of the poems in this book. I can definitely see myself going back to this book and looking at these beautiful illustrations again.

This book is broken into three sections; Monster-Boy, Monster-Girl and Sun-Heart. So the book itself forms the same sort of story arc that a novel might, we see the girl, we see her go through some things and then we get a happy ending of sorts. I really like the fact that we have this kind of arc because I think that this is what makes Amanda's work so accessible to those of us who are newer to poetry but read lots of novels, they are very easy to follow. 

Some of my favourite poems in the book include 'The Question II and I'; 'Two Sentence Horror Story' and 'Don't Try to Waste Your Time Again'. The writing in this book is so beautiful, despite the fact that is covers serious issues and topics which may make people uncomfortable, it is always just wonderful to read and definitely fills me with hope. I did cry at a couple of these poems too, which is a first for me. The book does cover some topics which require care warnings including abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, alcohol, religion, death, gore, fire and blood. Overall I thought this was a great addition to my bookshelf and I am sure it will be a great addition to yours too!

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

I also have a video review of this one over on IGTV if you would rather hear me speak about this rather than read the written review!

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Blog Tour: Review of A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

It's my stop on the Sue Moorcroft blog tour today to celebrate the release of A Christmas Gift-so exciting! Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content, extracts and reviews!

Here's what it's all about:

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.
To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Review: As an avid reader of books by Sue Moorcroft, as well as a lover of Christmas fiction, I have been looking forward with great anticipation to her new Christmas story. As I had expected, this book was easy to read, grabbing my attention right from the start and holding it to the last page. In common with most of Sue Moorcroft's books, this one has a really inviting cover, in this case making the reader think instantly of Christmas. 

As with many of Sue's previous books, this story is set in the Cambridgeshire village of Middledip, much of the action taking place in its performing arts college. Georgine France, who has lived in Middledip all her life, is events director at the college and is currently run off her feet organising the annual Christmas production. Principal of the college, Norman Ogden, surprises her with the introduction of a new member of staff, Joe Blackthorn, who is going to assist her with this task. However, it turns out that he may not be quite what he seems at the start. He seems familiar to Georgine, and as the story progresses surprising details of his past and present life come to light. To add to Georgine's load, she has financial troubles preying on her mind, as well as having to keep an eye on younger sister Blair and ailing father Randall. All in all, a busy and stressful festive season for her. 

Although this story plunged me into an area I am unfamiliar with, from staging a musical production to the world of rock music, I absolutely loved it. Through Sue Moorcroft's skillful story telling, I became totally absorbed in the tale, actually finding myself nervous that anything might go wrong on the night and worried about the outcome of troubles experienced by the main characters. Above all, though, it made me feel Christmassy, surely the best recommendation for a book published at this time of year. 

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

Monday 22 October 2018

Guest Review: The Christmas Wish by Tilly Tennant

Christmas is coming but it doesn’t feel that way for Esme Greenwood. Recently jilted by her cheating fiancee Warren, she’s had enough of London life and escapes to Thimble Cottage in the Peak District, home of her beloved grandmother Matilda.

While Esme mourns for the wedding she’ll never have, Matilda puts her granddaughter back together again with comforting words and generous helpings of fruitcake and together, they plan the trip of a lifetime, to Lapland to see the northern lights, somewhere Matilda has always dreamt of going.

But tragedy strikes and when Matilda dies, Esme screws up the courage to go on the trip on her own to honour her beloved grandmother’s wishes. At the airport she meets a motley crew of characters including Zach, a handsome, brooding, out-of- work actor and together they set off for an adventure.

Beneath the indigo skies of Lapland, Esme and Zach grow closer. But when Esme is bombarded by messages from Warren promising he’s changed and she discovers that Zach is hiding something very significant - will her head be turned? And when a trip to the northern lights reveals the full extent of Zach’s own secret past, is there any hope that Esme will get the happy ending that her grandmother wished for her?

Review: I am a big fan of Tilly Tennant's books and was looking forward to reading this Christmas story, having very much enjoyed her previous festive tales. I especially love the cover of this book, promising lots of snowy scenes and clear, crisp nights. Once opened, it proved a real page turner too; this was definitely a book I didn't want to put down - once started I had to finish. 

The story revolves around Esme, who has run away from a life she no longer finds enjoyable to stay with her grandma, Matilda, who lives in a dreamy cottage in a sleepy little Derbyshire village. Esme is escaping the clutches of Warren, her cheating and controlling fiancé who turned out not to be what he seemed, although it cost Esme lots of friendships before she realised. When Matilda dies suddenly, Esme decides to fulfil her grandmother's dream of holidaying in Lapland and, hopefully, seeing the Northern Lights. This trip leads to more than a winter delight. Esme makes some new friends, including Zach, who she is attracted to, but finds a little mysterious. At the end of the holiday will she return to Warren, or will her life take a different direction?

I found this a lovely, rounded story, with some humour mixed in with the drama and romance. I was very worried for Esme, firstly that she didn't see Warren for what he was, and then that she might go running back to him; it was at times difficult not to feel angry with her. Zach, on the other hand, was just an all round nice guy, if a bit of a conundrum. Esme's older travelling companions injected most of the humour into the story. I think that this was a wonderfully Christmassy book, with all the snow and winter activities in Lapland added to the usual features at this time of year. I can recommend it to be read at any time of the year, but especially now, in the run up to Christmas. 

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

Sunday 21 October 2018

Guest Review: The Art of Captaincy By Mike Brearley

My Sunday series of sport and history guest reviews has been on hold for a little while but now i'ts back! So here's something a little different for you today. 

Mike Brearley played cricket for Middlesex and England. He captained Middlesex from 1971 to 1982, during which time they won the County Championship four times and the Gillette one day cup competition twice. He made his Test debut for England in 1976, and captained the national side during two periods, the first from 1977 to 1980 and the second in 1981. On both occasions, he took over the captaincy under difficult circumstances. The first time was when Tony Greig was stripped of the captaincy as a result of his connection with Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. The second occasion  followed Ian Botham's resignation from the captaincy in 1981 after the first two Tests in an Ashes series against Australia. Overall, Mike Brearley's record as captain of England in 31 Test matches was 18 won and 4 lost. Perhaps his most notable achievement was in turning around England's fortunes in the Ashes series in 1981. After the first two matches under Ian Botham's captaincy, Australia were 1-0 up in the series. Under Brearley, England went on to win three of the remaining matches, to take the series 3-1. The most remarkable performance came in the third Test at Headingley, thanks to outstanding performances in the second innings with the bat by Ian Botham and with the ball by Bob Willis, when England fought back from a seemingly hopeless position to win the match. Mike Brearley is considered to have been one of England's best captains. When he finished playing, he pursued a career in psychoanalysis.

In this book, Mike Brearley discusses all the aspects of captaincy, from organising pre-season training, team selection, tactics, motivation and discipline. Throughout, there are numerous examples and anecdotes, mainly garnered from the author's own experiences of his playing days with Middlesex and England. The book was published in 1985, so it is interesting to see what changes in the game have occurred since then. In particular, the physical training and conditioning of the players is a lot more intense nowadays, and more limited overs cricket is played, especially since the advent of 20 overs a side cricket.

This book will provide a fascinating insight into the thought processes of a captain and will appeal to any cricket enthusiast. However, I think the book also has relevance for managers in any organisation in that it deals with what it takes to get the best out of people and to mould a group of individuals with different skills into a cohesive team. One anecdote that I enjoyed especially was the story of a letter that the author received on being recalled to the England captaincy in 1981, which quoted an old Italian proverb: "if you want to know that a fish is bad look at its head". I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.

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

Friday 19 October 2018

Poetry I've Read Recently

It's been a while since I've been able to include poetry in a top ten or similar list and I've been posting reviews of some poetry books I've read recently over on my IGTV so if you're not already following me on Instagram, you should head on over there.

So here are five poetry books I've read and loved recently and which have fuelled my desire to read more contemporary poetry. 

A new Amanda Lovelace poetry collection is always a must-buy for me. I'm going to share a full review of this one with you soon and I talk about it on my IGTV channel but I wanted to highlight it here too. This book is broken into three section; Monster Boy, Monster Girl and Sun Heart so it almost reads like the arc of a novel. It highlights the damage past relationships can have on us then, now and always. It has some beautiful illustration and even made me cry. I share some of the specific poems that spoke to me in that video. 

I have a full review of this collection of short stories and poems which you can find here

I'm not bundling these two together because I feel that they are the same story but because I loved them both equally and read them virtually back to back. Wild embers is a great collection of poetry and I highlighted so many poems which I talk about in my IGTV video. Some of my favourites were those that concern fairy tales and princesses from those tales. So naturally I rushed out to get fierce fairy tales the day it was released and I have the very beautiful UK hardback edition sitting on my shelves, also show in an IGTV video. I think I definitely preferred the poems to the short stories in this collection but I loved the way it made me look at fairy tales and the princes and princesses found within them. 

First of all, I loved the design of this book of poetry so I could do just as it said and take it with me. I actually borrowed this one from my library but I have it on my wish list so I will try and obtain a copy so that I can read it again. I loved the way this book spoke to me directly as a reader. I loved the way it highlighted the ups and downs of a relationship both inside and outside of one and I loved the structure of the book and the fact that it included illustrations. 

This book really is for everyone, another one where it does exactly what it says on the cover. This is the shortest of the books mentioned in the post and so possibly the most accessible if you are new to contemporary poetry. These poems are really beautiful and really do make you see the things in your life in a new light. The colours used throughout the book are lovely too and make for a very three dimensional reading experience. The thing that I loved most about it was the fact that inside the cover you have a section where you can fill in your name (if you own the book, I got mine from the library) and then pass it on to someone else so it is like a library borrowing system but to leave and pass on to everyone. 

Please let me know in the comments if you have enjoyed any similar collections of poetry recently or have any recommendations for me based on the books I have shared here. 

Thursday 18 October 2018

Review: Fashion Victim by Amina Akhtar

A thrilling take on the fashion world, #FashionVictim is Dexter meets The Devil Wears Prada.

Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything.

Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend.

But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. In order to beat Sarah…she’ll have to become her. Friendly competition may turn fatal, but as they say in fashion: One day you’re in, and the next day you’re dead.

Review: Wow this novel is dark. If you don't like a lot of death or violence in your novels then this will definitely not be one for you, but if you do, then you're in the right place. This novel is twisty and unexpected and yet funny and snarky and kind of relatable all at the same time. 

This novel is set in the fashion world of New York, one of my very favourite settings and although we don't get a lot of description of the city, we get a lot of description of New York Fashion Week and just what a cut throat (literally) environment the world of fashion really is. 

I loved the fact that we see this whole story through Anya's eyes, we get her take on everything that goes and and we really get into her mind, which is a very unique place indeed. Anya definitely isn't a character you're going to like but she is one of the most intriguing character I have read recently. She is also quite easy to sympathise with in some ways and so you can see where she is coming from in some of the actions that she takes. 

It is very hard to talk about the plot without giving any spoilers away but there is fashion gossip and bitching, police procedure, weight loss, relationships and friendships covered within the pages amongst other things. One of the great things about the plot is that incidents occur very much in the passive voice and it might be a few pages before we, as readers, get to see what actually happened in the active voice. 

Very twisty, very snarky, full of intrigue and surprise. A thriller with themes of mental health and friendship, truly one of the most unique reading experiences I have had in a long time. 

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