Tuesday 30 April 2019

Guest Review: Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett

She wasn’t looking for love…

When Lucie Kennington flees the bright lights of London for the quiet Derbyshire countryside, she’s shocked to discover that the heir to the Bluebell Castle estate is far from the wizened employer she expected.
In fact, Arthur Ludworth might just be the most handsome man Lucie’s ever laid eyes on – and a terrible distraction! So when she stumbles across a legendary painting feared lost for centuries, she can’t believe her luck – perhaps this is the hidden treasure to save Arthur and his family from ruin?
But it’s only a matter of time before Lucie’s past catches up with her and by then it’s too late, she’s falling for him…

Review: This is the first part of a new trilogy from Sarah Bennett. I have already read her last two trilogies, set in Lavender Bay and Butterfly Cove, both of which I really enjoyed, and I have been looking forward to release of this series. As anticipated, this book had me hooked from page one and kept me coming back right to the end. I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series. 

The story concerns Lucie Kennington, an art expert working for a prodigious auction house in London. When a shocking event casts a shadow over her and her career, she ends up answering an advert for a position valuing the contents of Bluebell Castle in Derbyshire. The current head of the family who own the castle, Sir Arthur Ludworth, is desperately looking for ways to keep it running, maintaining its heritage and safeguarding the jobs of its staff and many of the local people. Lucie arrives to find a gargantuan task ahead of her and what appears initially to be a chaotic household. Arthur is one of triplets, all of whom live in the castle, with a great aunt, an uncle, a small staff and a huge number of dogs. The difficulties associated with negotiating the corridors of the castle and the records kept by Arthur’s ancestors become complicated by her growing attraction to its handsome owner. Lucie makes an incredible discovery that can save the family from ruin, but how will they react when they find out about her past?

I can highly recommend this book. It is not just a lovely romance, but also a story full of comedy. I really enjoyed the relationships within the family living in the castle, the triplets banding together to save their home and heritage, while the older generation were living in the past and the servants were somewhere in the middle. The huge pack of dogs sharing the castle with the humans added to the overall disarray in the household. I felt a great deal of sympathy with Lucie; she has been wronged from an early age and definitely deserves a break. It was heartwarming to watch her relationship with Arthur develop. I was cheering them on, but never sure how it was all going to end, and, indeed, if the castle could be saved. Definitely an enjoyable read, and one that might appeal in particular to anyone with an interest in Arthurian legend; the castle is full of links to the legend due to an ancestor’s fascination with tales of the king and his court.

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

Book 1: Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle

Book 2: Sunshine Over Bluebell Castle

Book 3: Starlight Over Bluebell Castle

Monday 29 April 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Perfect Crime by Helen Fields

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields. I have a review for you today and if you like the sound of it, you can click here to order yourself a copy. Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content, extracts and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about:

Your darkest moment is your most vulnerable…
Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…
As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.
Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…
An unstoppable crime thriller from the #1 bestseller. The perfect read for fans of Karin Slaughter and M. J. Arlidge.

Review: This is the fifth in a series of crime novels written by Helen Fields featuring Detective Inspector Luc Callanach, seconded from Interpol in France to Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team in Edinburgh. If you haven't read any of the previous series, this latest entry can be read as a standalone thriller. In this book, we get to know a little more about Callanach's past history, which is integral to the plot.

A series of apparent suicides has occurred in Edinburgh that, on further investigation by Detective Inspector Callanach and his superior Detective Chief Inspector Ava Turner, are not as they seem at first sight and may, in fact, be meticulously plotted murders. As the body count mounts up there is a race against time to track down the perpetrator. The tension is maintained throughout the book and I found myself wanting to keep reading to find out what happened next.

I read the previous book in the series, and it was good to re-visit familiar characters in the Major Investigation Team and to see how they had moved on. As well as the investigation work, we get an insight into the private lives of some of the characters.

A couple of small criticisms I had of the book is that, as in most works of crime fiction, the distinction between forensic pathologist and other forensic disciplines was blurred, with the pathologist in this book also appearing to be a fingerprint expert. Again, as in most crime fiction, clear cut scientific results are obtained from some very intractable materials, which would not be the case in real world forensic work. I also found, for a story set in Edinburgh, that the dialogue featured very few Scottish colloquialisms.

However, these are minor criticisms, and I found the book to be a thrilling, although at times very graphic, account of a major police investigation into a series of crimes.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Movie Reviews: April 21st-27th 2019 (Avengers Endgame)

Another Sunday, another lot of movie reviews. As always, I go into more detailed thoughts on my movie reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post once it is live so if you want a little more detail, give that a watch please and thank you!

I saw this Disney nature film in Imax and would definitely recommend seeing it that way if it comes up again! I thought it was cute and funny with some minor scary bits but definitely worth a watch-I learned a lot!

This was part of our watch of the IMDB top 100 movies. I liked it was more than I thought I was going to. It felt a little bit like a weird dream with some added magic. I would watch another film like this based off the back of enjoying this one!

This was Elle Fanning putting on an Isle of Wight accent and speaking polish whilst entering a 'The Voice/X-Factor' style singing competitions. She is also coached by a former opera singer who is an alcoholic. It was a bit of a strange mix but it worked and I enjoyed it. I especially loved the soundtrack. 

Of course I loved this one. Just think, this time last year I hadn't seen any Marvel movies, how much can change in a year! I laughed, I cheered, i cried a LOT! Definitely take tissues if you're heading out to see this one. It is a long film but it doesn't feel like that when you're watching it, it just feels like another awesome Avengers movie! It starts off slow but I really liked that, I liked the slow build and feel like the slow beginning really suited the mood and the setting of the movie on the Marvel time line. 

I will be going to see this again in different formats this week so that next week I can bring you a comparison of the different formats and advise which is the best way to see this movie. I saw it in 3D on Thursday and seeing it with a full audience was great so the sooner you go and see this one the better, those crowds give a great atmosphere!

Saturday 27 April 2019

Blog Tour: Extract From You, Me and The Movies by Fiona Collins

Today I have an extract to share with you from You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins. The book is out in ebook now, so if you like the sound of the extract, you can click here to order a copy for yourself!

Here's what it's all about:
Two people. Ten classic films. A love story you’ll never forget.

Arden has just started university when she meets Mac – and quickly falls head over heels for the handsome, charismatic film lecturer. Their love affair is dramatic, exciting and all-consuming; the sort of thing you only see in the movies.

It couldn’t last. But thirty years later, leading a very different life, Arden is visiting a friend in hospital when she suddenly comes across the man she never forgot. Badly injured in an accident, Mac can only make brief references to the classic films they once watched together: Casablanca, A Star is Born, Pretty Woman among others… and they make Arden remember everything.

The bittersweet memories of their relationship help Arden re-connect with the world in a way she no longer thought was possible. But will a movie-worthy love ever be hers again?

Want to know more? Read on...

‘I’m here to visit Mac Bartley-Thomas,’ I say, and I hold my breath. There is a pause – quite a long one – then the door jamb clicks, just like that, and I push the door open and step into the ward. My heart is pounding, my thoughts racing, as I cross the ward as interloper, imposter, terrified visitor. I immediately glance to the other side to make sure Dominic has gone and he has. There’s now a friendly-looking man sporting a beard that looks painted on in his bed, pouring himself a glass of water. It is definitely quieter on the ward tonight, too; have all the visitors been and gone? It’s only six o’clock. I can just hear the murmur of televisions and the clank of equipment and the tinkle of teaspoons in mugs in the nurses’ station at the end of the ward. And some soft coughing. I head towards Mac’s bed, half-expecting a heavy hand to land on my shoulder and a voice to ask what the hell I am doing here: wasn’t I here last night, visiting someone else? 

 Am I some sort of weird Munchausen-type person who likes breaking into hospital wards? But there is no hand and no voice. I make it to Mac’s bedside unscathed, despite the shockingly, un-Ratched loud noise of my heels on the polished floor, and I sit down, terrified. Mac – here in London, here at St Katherine’s – has his eyes open, which is an initial surprise and makes me feel like running away, and he is staring up at the television screen hanging above him in a giant, royal blue plastic box. Alexander Armstrong is chuckling at something Pointless. Will Mac recognize me? What will we say to each other? I haven’t a clue, except why is he here? Does he live in London? Does he live near me? If he does, how have we missed each other until now, and what would we have said to each other if we hadn’t? I wait. I keep my coat on, over my blouse and pencil skirt, my feet in black suede court shoes tucked under the chair. I wait for him to notice I am here, and after what feels like a very long forever, Mac looks down from the television. He looks at my face and stares at me for a moment, then his eyes crinkle into a soft smile of recognition – it is recognition, isn’t it? God, I hope it is – and finally, slowly, his mouth joins in. He knows who I am. Still petrified, I smile back at him. He’s older but the ghost of his beautiful, younger face is still there. His eyes are still periwinkle pale blue, with fair eyelashes. His mouth is still a delight, a promise. His hair is not back from his face today, some of it has flopped forward and it makes my heart contract a little, as though squeezed by an eager hand. I loved Mac’s floppy hair. I would run my fingers through it and let it fall, in soft layers, into his eyes, before he would blow it up into the air again, his mouth a soft ‘O’. I hope I don’t disappoint him; I’m in my late forties, I have my own crinkles, an uncertain jawline, possibly an air of not long departed despair . . . 

But he doesn’t disappoint me. He creeps his hand forward, at the side of the bed, so gradually I could be imagining it, but I place my own over it. His hand is warm and I am taken by a faint echo of the electricity I used to feel, a distant current, like the ripples from a skimmed stone on a faraway lake. ‘Hello, Mac,’ I say, my voice quavering. ‘It’s really good to see you.’ He smiles at me again, and I squeeze his hand gently until it stops mine from shaking. ‘It’s been a long time.’ He nods very slowly. ‘How are you feeling?’ I know how I am. Nervous, shy, scared stiff, nothing like how I was when I first spoke to him, in the Arts common room, at university, thirty years ago. He, the charming, maverick Film Studies lecturer; me, the overconfident English Literature student. God knows what happened to her . . . Mac doesn’t answer. He just smiles at me, those blue eyes creasing until the irises nearly disappear. ‘I was visiting a friend last night,’ I gabble on. ‘He’s gone now, broken leg. I saw you were here. I came back to visit you. It’s so weird seeing you again. After all this time.’ Mac nods again. He smiles. I can see his teeth, still a little crooked, something he always said he would fix, one day. He liked the idea of a Hollywood smile. He always joked that in the right light he’d look like a young Nick Nolte. Why is he not saying anything? ‘He can’t speak,’ says a nurse, pausing at the foot of the bed. It’s the nurse I saw last night, the one with the spiky hair dip-dyed blonde at the ends, although the blonde bits look more orange tonight. Her badge says ‘Fran’. ‘He damaged his left hemisphere in the car accident.’ I nod, needing to give the impression I already know some of what she’s saying. Like the fact he’s been in a car accident. Poor Mac. How awful. ‘We don’t know if his speech will come back or not,’ says Fran. ‘The doctors say we can’t be certain of anything at this stage.’ I nod again. I look at Mac; he smiles as though he is sorry. 

 I am flooded with feeling and memory. I’m almost in tears at the thought that he can’t speak to me. I have so much I want to say and so much I want to hear. ‘Would you like some water?’ I say to him. I look to his bedside table but Fran is already standing at it and pouring water from a clear plastic jug with a blue lid, into a beaker with a straw in it. ‘I’m Fran,’ she says, as she passes me the beaker, ‘and you’re his first visitor. Friend or relative?’ She makes it sound like Friend or Foe and I almost laugh. ‘Friend,’ I say. ‘Though it’s been years.’ I go to pass Mac the beaker, but I don’t think he can lift up his arm so I place it under his chin and, with what a hopeful person might construe as a slight wink, he sips from the straw. ‘Good you’re here,’ says Fran and she moves silently off to the next bed. I wonder why I am Mac’s first visitor. Where is his family? His friends? I put the beaker back on the cabinet. We look at each other. I long to hear his voice. Still, if he can’t talk to me, I can talk to him. He looks at me – those crinkly eyes – and I almost blush, remembering all that we did and all that we had. ‘I have no idea what you’re doing in London,’ I say. It’s hot – I take off my coat and slip it over the shoulders of the plastic chair. ‘Do you live here?’ He nods, almost imperceptibly. ‘Do you work here?’ He nods, then tips his head to the side as if to say ‘kind of’. I regret asking him – he looks so tired – but I thought he’d still be working. I can’t see Mac ever giving up work altogether; he lived for it. I have no further questions. Well I do, Your Honour, I have a million of them, but I don’t want to exhaust Mac further and this has felt like dreadful small talk. Mac and I never did that. Everything we did was big. I decide to be as silent as him. Companionable silence, that’s what they call it. It was something Christian and I never went for. 

We could be silent but even that felt like a war, with him watching my every move, my every expression, challenging me to do something he wouldn’t approve of. But Mac and I sit for a while, in silence, and I search his face for all the parts of it I loved. Fran bustles back past. I stand up and go over to her, feeling guilty for stopping her in her important tracks. ‘Excuse me, Fran ? Sorry. What’s Mac’s prognosis? How long has he been here?’ ‘Just over a week. He came in five days before Christmas. Two days in intensive care before coming to the ward.’ Poor Mac – Christmas in this place. Mine hadn’t been the most exciting, but at least I had spent it in my own house, with Julian. ‘And the doctors don’t know at the moment. On their last round they said fifty per cent chance of a full recovery.’ ‘And the other fifty per cent?’ I ask. Fran smiles a smile I know she has given a million times before. ‘Uncertain’ – she shrugs – ‘as I said before. But we hope for the best.’ ‘Thank you,’ I say. ‘Thanks, Fran.’ ‘You’re very welcome. He’s a nice man,’ she says. ‘We can tell. And I get the feeling he may have had quite a twinkle, once upon a time.’ There’s a sudden strange noise from behind us, like the clearing of a throat. Fran and I both turn round and look at Mac. There’s the glimmer of a twinkle going on right now; his eyes are glinting and his lips slowly part. ‘Bunny,’ says Mac, or at least it sounds like it. His voice is low and rumbly, like cracked pepper. I look at Fran and we step towards him. ‘Mac? Did you say something? What are you trying to say?’ I ask. Mac’s lips move again. His eyes flash and he looks directly at me. ‘B-bunny soup,’ he says. ‘What did he say?’ asks Fran. ‘Something soup ?’ but I am staring at Mac and laughing out loud, delighted at hearing his voice again and knowing exactly what he said, although it is unbelievable, after all these years. Bunny soup. 

I sit down and retake Mac’s hand. A full grin is lighting up his face. He grins till his eyes crinkle to almost nothing. We beam like idiots at each other, the background murmur and clunk of the ward an applause. ‘It really sounded like “bunny soup”,’ says Fran, at the end of the bed, ‘how odd,’ but she is obviously as delighted as me, as she adds, ‘But he said something! Well, I never! Well done, Mac,’ she says to him, as though speaking to a child. She comes to the side of the bed and pats his other hand. ‘Why is he talking about soup?’ she asks me. I laugh again. I laugh far too loudly for a hospital ward and receive several looks. Anyone would think I was once bubbly. ‘He’s talking about a film,’ I say. ‘Mac and I watched a lot of films together, back in the day, when I was a student. He’s referencing one of our favourites.’ Actually, it was the first film we watched, Mac and I. And I would never forget a second of it. ‘Oh, right,’ says Fran, stroking Mac’s knuckles gently and looking thoughtful. ‘How odd. You know, it might be possible Mac has a form of aphasia. I used to work on the Stroke Ward and some of the patients there have something called non-fluent aphasia – they can’t manage normal speech, but they can call up expressions or memorized phrases from the long-term memory. It’s all in the right hemisphere, you see,’ she says, tapping the side of her head. ‘Quite amazing, really. Some of them can’t utter a word but can sing whole verses of “Love Me Tender”. Which film is it?’ she asks. ‘Fatal Attraction,’ I say. I’m gazing at Mac. ‘Ah, yes.’ She nods. ‘I get it . . . bunny soup, the whole “bunny boiler” thing . . . Glenn Close in a white nightdress, Madame Butterfly . . . Great movie.’ ‘Yes, great movie,’ I say. I smile at Mac and he smiles back. I remember, his eyes say; and I remember too.

Friday 26 April 2019

Event Wrap Up: An Evening With Lucinda Riley

Thanks so Fabulous Book Fiend contributor Linda for attending this UK event on behalf of the blog!
On the 23rd of April 2019 (World Book Night), Waterstones, Harrogate hosted an event with renowned author Lucinda Riley, at the Crown Hotel, Harrogate. I was lucky enough to be one of the approximately 200 people who was able to buy a ticket and attend the event. As many of you will know, former actress Lucinda is the author of a whole host of novels, including the very popular Seven Sisters series. 

At this event, she was interviewed by her son, Harry, presenter on a local radio station. We were treated to a really entertaining evening, where we learned about the origins of Lucinda’s forthcoming new novel, The Butterfly Room, as well as some of her background, including her writing habits. She certainly does an impressive amount of travelling to make sure the settings for her stories are correctly described. Thanks to Lucinda for making this a most enjoyable occasion and for patiently signing all those books, taking time to converse with her readers at the same time.

Thursday 25 April 2019

Review: Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

This audiobook was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Helen Ellis has a mantra: "If you don't have something nice to say, say something not-so-nice in a nice way." Say "weathered" instead of "she looks like a cake left out in the rain." Say "early-developed" instead of "brace face and B cups." And for the love of Coke Salad, always say "Sorry you saw something that offended you" instead of "Get that stick out of your butt, Miss Prissy Pants." In these twenty-three raucous essays Ellis transforms herself into a dominatrix Donna Reed to save her marriage, inadvertently steals a $795 Burberry trench coat, witnesses a man fake his own death at a party, avoids a neck lift, and finds a black-tie gown that gives her the confidence of a drag queen. While she may have left her home in Alabama, married a New Yorker, forgotten how to drive, and abandoned the puffy headbands of her youth, Helen Ellis is clinging to her Southern accent like mayonnaise to white bread, and offering readers a hilarious, completely singular view on womanhood for both sides of the Mason-Dixon.

Review: I read and enjoyed Helen Ellis's American Housewife last year and so I was excited when I heard that she had a new collection of essays coming out. If you enjoyed her last collection then you will be pleased to hear that this one is slightly less dark than its predecessor, but not less funny. 

I chose to do this one on audiobook having enjoyed the paperback of American Housewife and it was read by the author-what a treat! I love that Helen read this herself because she could really put the emphasis in the right places where she meant to be humorous and where she meant to be serious. Her anecdotes and personal stories sounded so great when actually read out by her so I can definitely recommend the audio in this case!

The stories are varied, this writer really does cover everything in a relatively short space of time and so there is something for everyone here. I could relate to some but not all of the essays and some were real eye openers for me, someone who hasn't travelled to the south or encountered too many ladies from that neck of the woods. I loved the story about the trench coat and definitely appreciated hearing about the etiquette of thank you notes. 

I laughed my way through this one on a flight between London and Denver and so where ever you are in the world I am sure that you will find Helen Ellis's Southern Lady Code just as amusing as me!

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

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Guest Review: The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant

The sky is cornflower blue, the air is scented with the smell of fresh apple blossom and Lizzie Lovell can’t wait to start her new life in the mill on Magnolia Lane. But is she just about to fall in love with someone she shouldn’t? 

When Lizzie loses her larger-than-life dad she doesn’t know how to move forward. Encouraged by a childhood dream she shared with her beloved father, she is determined to continue his legacy and moves to the old Mill on Magnolia lane, a place he had always longed to own.

Restoring the old windmill is a much bigger job than Lizzie bargained for, especially when she is distracted by her new next door neighbour Jude, who has temptingly twinkly eyes and a body to die for. But when Jude’s ex- girlfriend Harriet arrives back on the scene, Lizzie begins to wonder if life wasn’t far simpler before she moved to the mill. Especially when it emerges that Harriet knows something about Jude’s past, something that could shatter her new start and her heart into smithereens …

Review: I have been so looking forward to the new book by Tilly Tennant. She is one of my favourite authors; her books never fail to please. As I expected, as soon as I sat down to read this one, I was hooked and found it hard to put down. A lovely setting and marvellous characters - what more could you want?

The story has a cast of strong and interesting players, the central one being Lizzie Lovell. Her world is shattered when she loses her beloved dad, but she throws her energy as well as her savings into a project that she knows he would have loved - the restoration of an old windmill that sits on Magnolia Lane, near to the old fenland village of Piriwick. She soon realises that she has taken on a mammoth task, bigger and more expensive than she anticipated. However, it looks as though there may be some consolation in the shape of possible romance when she meets handsome neighbour Jude. Unfortunately, things are complicated there by the presence nearby of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. Lizzie is living in a caravan while the renovations are taking place, and is unexpectedly joined by her sister and then her stepmother. Things are getting pretty cramped, but Lizzie is beginning to realise that having family around her is really rather nice, in fact preferable to her idea of a quiet and solitary existence in her mill. However, with funds running low and a sudden tragedy in the family, Lizzie wonders if her dream of a new life in a beautifully working windmill will ever be realised. 

I have really enjoyed this story and would wholeheartedly recommend it to others. I greatly admired the main character, Lizzie. Her determination to carry out her scheme to restore the old mill in spite of her family’s objections and the problems arising when the work begins is commendable to say the least. She also shows great strength in not allowing herself to fall right into Jude’s arms when she has doubts about where he stands with his ex; his attitude at times made me feel unsure of his motives. Lizzie‘ sister, Gracie, is also an interesting character. I thought she was going to be a hindrance to Lizzie, but she actually had hidden depths, and often added a touch of humour to the story. The whole situation of more and more women arriving in the caravan was quite comical and had me chuckling to myself. On the whole lighthearted, the story also had some tragic moments, as happens in any family. This book was another triumph for Tilly Tennant, and one which I’m sure her fans and new readers alike will enjoy.

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

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Review: William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Mean Girls (Pop Shakespeare) by Ian Doescher

Power struggles. Bitter rivalries. Rampant jealousy. Betrayals. Star-crossed lovers. When you think about it, it s pretty surprising William Shakespeare DIDN T write Mean Girls. But at last, readers will be treated to the epic drama and epic hilarity of the classic teen comedy rendered with the wit, flair, and iambic pentameter of the Bard. The action unfolds as our heroine Cady disguises herself to infilitrate the conniving Plastics, falls for totally-off-limits Aaron, struggles with her allegiance to newfound friends Damian and Janis, and stirs up age-old vendettas between the factions of the high school. Bestselling author Ian Doescher brings his signature Shakespearean wordsmithing to one of the most revered stories of our time. Fourteen years after its release (feel old yet?) Mean Girls has become a cultural phenomenon and cult classic among generations of teen girls and other fans, and is more than apt for an Elizabethan makeover.

Review: I knew I was going to love this book going into it and I just had a really good time reading it. It is quite a quick read because it is written in script from but it can take a little while to get your head into the language form. Once I got my mind switched to Shakespearean language again, I was ready to go. 

I love how this book stuck to firmly to the film and it's script. It talks about when Cady first goes to the school and them getting her name wrong right down to the discussions the teachers have the asides that Cady does to camera. I think you do need to have seen the film to appreciate the pure genius of this one but then it is a great film and so it won't be too much of a hardship!

I also loved the illustrations in this book. Each scene has a printed page on one side and a beautiful header on the other and then there are other illustrations scattered throughout the play. The book tells you at the beginning as well where you can find each illustration which made it easy to go back and appreciate them once more. 

Some of the scenes from the film make for absolutely hilarious comparisons when translated into the language of Shakespeare and so this would make for an excellent gift for either a mean girls or a Shakespeare lover. It would also be an excellent gift to yourself to pick up when you fancy a chuckle!

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

Monday 22 April 2019

Review: Too Much is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells

I was given a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

From the star of Broadway's The Book of Mormon and HBO's Girls, the heartfelt and hilarious coming-of-age memoir of a Midwestern boy surviving bad auditions, bad relationships, and some really bad highlights as he chases his dreams in New York City

When Andrew Rannells left Nebraska for New York City in 1997, he, like many young hopefuls, saw the city as a chance to break free. To start over. To transform the fiercely ambitious but sexually confused teenager he saw in the mirror into the Broadway leading man of his dreams.
In Too Much Is Not Enough, Rannells takes us on the journey of a twentysomething hungry to experience everything New York has to offer: new friends, wild nights, great art, standing ovations. At the heart of his hunger lies a powerful drive to reconcile the boy he was when he left Omaha with the man he desperately wants to be.
As Rannells fumbles his way towards the Great White Way, he also shares the drama of failed auditions and behind-the-curtain romances, the heartbreak of losing his father at the height of his struggle, and the exhilaration of making his Broadway debut in Hairspray at the age of twenty-six. Along the way, he learns that you never really leave your past--or your family--behind; that the most painful, and perversely motivating, jobs are the ones you almost get; and that sometimes the most memorable nights with friends are marked not by the trendy club you danced at but by the recap over diner food afterward.
Honest and hilarious, Too Much Is Not Enough is an unforgettable look at love, loss, and the powerful forces that determine who we become.

Review: Oh my goodness I loved this audiobook so much. I am an absolute sucker for a memoir that is read by the author. I just love to hear people talking about things in their own way and using their own voice and Andrew Rannells tells his story with humour and with emotion. I loved that he could emphasise points he wanted to make and change his tone when things became serious or sad. 

This book is not a complete memoir by any means so if you're looking for stories from when this actor was in Book of Mormon or Girls then these aren't coming quite yet, I really hope to get another book covering these soon. This is what it says right there on the cover, a memoir of fumbling towards adulthood. It love the fact that this covers growing up and family life in Nebraska, what being gay meant to him then and there. I also loved the fact that he is open and honest about how scary it was moving to New York and how alone he felt. 

Andrew Rannells is also very open and candid about his relationships before and during his time in new york and I just love how honest he is about every aspect of that. He shares moments of joy and moments of regret and I really felt every moment with him as I was listening to the book. I don;t think you have to be a massive fan of this actor to enjoy his book, I think that you don't necessarily even have to have seen him in anything. This is a great memoir, so open and yet so hilariously funny at times. I loved listening to this one and definitely recommend it as a contender for your next audiobook listen!

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

Sunday 21 April 2019

Movie Reviews: April 14th-20th 2019

Another Sunday, another lot of movie reviews. As always, I go into more detailed thoughts on my movie reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post once it is live so if you want a little more detail, give that a watch please and thank you!

I really enjoyed this movie. I love the two lead actors and they did a great job of playing out this true story. It is tough to watch at times but definitely worthwhile, highly recommend. 

I liked this film soooo much more than I thought I would. There were lots of laugh out loud moments but also lots of scary things. I would have liked the transitions between the two to be slightly less stark but I definitely recommend this one too!

I loved the message of acceptance in this film. There are some big names voicing the characters and again some laugh out loud moments. I would recommend taking kids to this one because it is sweet and lovely but also full of adventure.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Guest Review: Last Words at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

The final part in the brand new series from Holly Hepburn

The village of Little Monkham is reeling from their loss but gathers together to celebrate a life well lived. Behind the scenes, Nessie is struggling with a distant Owen and confides inLaurie about her tempting job offer. He offers to step up his role at the Star and Sixpence so that she can leave.

Gabe and Sam grow closer, although she still refuses to be anything more than friends and colleagues. Laurie’s behaviour causes Gabe to become increasingly suspicious and what he discovers causes a scene that turns more than one world upside down. Can Sam and Nessie work through the fall-out or is it really last orders at the Star and Sixpence? 

Review: This is the final part of the new four-part ebook series from Holly Hepburn concerning the Star and Sixpence pub in the village of Little Monkham, its owners and customers. I have been following and enjoying this series and a previous series about the pub from the very beginning. I was waiting eagerly for this final part to be released, and read it immediately it popped up on my Kindle on publication day, but feel a little sad that the story is now at an end. I shall definitely miss hearing about the goings on in Little Monkham.

In this part of the story, sisters Nessie and Sam Chapman are once again working together to make the Star and Sixpence the successful venue it has become since they took it over following their father’s death. Nessie is happily settled with boyfriend Owen in the cottage next to the pub, while Sam is living on the premises, as is Gabe, the pub’s chef. Sam is trying very hard to hide her feelings from him, and when her former boyfriend Joss is called back to help with the pub during their cider festival, tension increases in the household. Meanwhile, the girls’ long lost brother, Laurie, is causing them increasing worry as his attitude towards them and his work is changing for the worse. When things start to go wrong in the pub, everyone tries to figure out what is going on.

As with all the other parts in this serialisation, I found this a quick and easy read, but by no means lacking in depth and entertainment. I feel that I have got to know the Chapman sisters quite well now, and I was hoping for a happy ending for them both after the trials and tribulations they have been through. Holly Hepburn has certainly created an interesting set of characters in these books and I would love to stroll around the village and meet them all. She has also described a really cosy atmosphere in the Star and Sixpence pub; I can imagine how welcoming it would be on a winter’s evening to sit there by the fire. I can definitely recommend this book to other readers; for those who don’t enjoy serials, it is good to know that a paperback bind-up of all four parts will be available later this year.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Friday 19 April 2019

Blog Tour: Review of Sleep by CL Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna.
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Review: Another absolute thriller from CL Taylor. I so enjoyed this story and just kept turning those pages until I reached the final one. I wasn't sure what was going to happen next or who was going to turn out to have ulterior motives. I really don't think you'll see any of the events of the book coming, it will definitely keep you guessing. 

Anna is a wonderfully vulnerable character. We know she had respect in her job but wasn't happy in her relationship so when she tries to escape her past, it really is open game as to who or what is stopping her from sleeping. I totally love Anna's work ethic, she really want to do a good job and has ambition and that makes her really easy to like. We know about some of the events from her past but not all of them and so she has an element of mystery about her as well. 

One of the other things I really loved about this novel was the setting. I enjoy a novel set in Scotland so much and so the setting of a remote island was just wonderful. Not only did the remoteness of the island provide so much tension for the events of the book, but it also allowed me to escape from my plane seat and be right there in the hotel with Anna. 

This novel has such a claustrophobic atmosphere to it because of the setting and because of Anna's sleep problem. I too did not sleep whilst reading this novel. I began to feel as paranoid as Anna, and being trapped in a plane seat really made me feel the urgency of being in a remote location like her. CL Taylor does such a good job of letting her words and her world come off the page and engulf the reader. I loved this book and would definitely recommend it!

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

Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more reviews and exclusive content!

Thursday 18 April 2019

Blog Tour: Extract From My Sister's Lies by SD Robertson

Today is my stop on the blog tour for My Sister's Lies by SD Robertson. I have an extract to share with you today and if you like the sound of this one, you can click here to order yourself a copy. Don't forget to check out the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about:

For a decade, Hannah’s life has been pretty close to perfect – she has a great job, she’s married to Mark, and her child-free existence means she’s free as a bird. The only sadness in her life is a fall-out with her sister Diane, who hasn’t spoken to her in over ten years. But now Diane is on her doorstep – and this time, she’s got her teenage daughter Mia in tow.
When Diane asks if Mia can stay with Hannah and Mark for a few days, Hannah is glad of the chance to get to know her niece. But as the days turn into weeks and Diane doesn’t return, Hannah begins to worry. Why hasn’t her sister been in touch?
Diane is carrying a devastating secret that will destroy Hannah’s carefully constructed life. But how much is she willing to reveal – and when will she pick her moment?
An emotional story that delves into the true meaning of family, sisterhood and secrets. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher and Adele Parks.

And here's that extract for you!

Except suddenly here she was again . . . dining and soon to be sleeping in her home.
How was Hannah supposed to deal with that? No wonder she felt so confused and conflicted.
‘Well, who wants some coffee?’ Mark asked, clapping his hands together as he stood up from the table.
‘Good idea,’ Hannah added, also getting to her feet and starting to clear the plates. ‘I’ll give you a hand.’ She looked at her sister as she added: ‘Then we can all sit down and have a good chat, right?’
Diane nodded, her face looking very pale all of a sudden. ‘Of course. But could I be awkward and ask for tea instead of coffee?’
‘No problem,’ Mark replied.
She also made a move to get up and help clear the dishes, but Hannah told her it wasn’t necessary. ‘You go and grab a seat in the lounge,’ she said, keen to have a few moments alone with her husband before the big discus­sion.
‘So what do you think she’s going to say?’ Hannah asked Mark a few minutes later. She spoke in a low voice but was glad of the noise of the kettle and coffee maker to ensure they weren’t overheard.
He shook his head. ‘I really have no idea. She’s played her cards very close to her chest so far. It could well be money she’s after, I suppose. What kind of car has she got?’
‘I’ve not got a clue. I didn’t ask. Why would I? And I didn’t see them arrive in it. I don’t even know where she’s left it. A nearby car park, I suppose, although that won’t be cheap.’

Thanks so much to SD Robertson for stopping by today and sharing that with us!