Monday 30 September 2019

Contemporary-A-Thon Round 5 Wrap Up

This past week I took part in the Contemporary-A-Thon which is a week long readathon dedeicated to reading contemporary novels and I had so much fun. I vlogged the whole week so I have left that video at the bottom of this post if you would prefer to watch that rather than carry on reading.  

I set myself a TBR before the readathon you can watch that here...

There were 7 challenges altogether and here's what I read to meet each of those challenges...

1. Read a 2019 release

2. Read a contemporary with yellow on the cover

3. Read a diverse contemporary

4. Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover

5. Read a dark/hard hitting contemporary

6. Read a contemporary with plants on the cover

7. Read a contemporary beloved by a member of the book community

Part books read... because those count too and defintiely contributed to the time spent reading and pages read. 

Cover Reveal: The Vagabond Mother by Tracey Scott-Townsend

I have a cover reveal for you today. The Vagabond Mother by Tracey Scott-Townsend comes out in the UK on January 22nd 2020. You can click here to pre-order your copy now. 

Here's what it's all about:

Not every Vagabond is a Castaway...

Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.

Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.

Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.

Eventually a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.

Exploring the big questions at the heart of human existence, The Vagabond Mother shares territory with books and films such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Way, starring Martin Sheen, Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Are you ready for the cover?

I love the water colors and can't wait to read!



Sunday 29 September 2019

Movie Reviews: September 21st-28th 2019

It's a Sunday movie reviews post! I haven't done one of these in a while so I thought I would bring it back again... As always I go into more detail in my reviews video over on my BookTube channel which I will leave at the bottom of this post, so go and give that a watch, please and thank you. 

I saw 3 things in cinemas this week...

I really enjoyed this one. There was a lot of information to take in at the beginning of the movie since it is a true story based on a real trial but i was gripped by the end. Recommend!

This was showing at my movie theatre so I had to go and see it since I am planning a trip to Disney, The picture and the sound were so great on the big screen. Obviously I loved it-highly recommend seeing it at the cinema if you can. 

This was such a let down. If you are considering going to the final screening of this, I don't recommend it! It was 4 random episodes with a run time of barely 90 minutes when it was advertised as having never before seen footage, interviews and bloopers and a run time of 105 minutes. Such a disappointment!

Thursday 26 September 2019

Guest Review: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

Alexia Kennedy interior decorator extraordinaire has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it s always dreamed of.
After months of fundraising, the villagers can t wait to see work get started but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.
But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.
However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village and their lives together again...

Review: I am a great fan of Sue Moorcroft’s work, and always look forward to her Christmas stories. This year, I have read two of her Christmas books, as I have caught up on this title, from a couple of years ago, that somehow had passed me by. As I could have predicted, I found myself quickly engrossed in this story and its characters and finished it all too soon. 

As with several of Sue’s books, this one is set in the small Cambridgeshire village of Middledip. Following the death of the landlady, the villagers have been fundraising to convert the rundown old Angel pub into a community cafe, due to be open in time for Christmas. Interior decorator and local girl Alexia is in charge of the project, hoping that success there could lead to a step up in her career. When the funds raised for the project are tragically stolen, along with several valuable architectural features of the old building, it seems all may be lost. However, Ben, a newcomer to the village, steps in to help Alexia in her efforts to continue with the cafe conversion as best she can. A woodsman by trade and a skilled builder, Ben is the nephew of Gabe, a long-time inhabitant of the village and backer of the project. As they work together to try and complete the job against all odds, and with other dramas playing out in the background, Alexia begins to wonder if the feelings awakening in her towards Ben might be reciprocated.

This is a wonderfully compelling story full of community spirit as well as Christmas spirit. There is lots going on and always the promise of romance. There is a spark between the main characters, Alexia and Ben, right from the start, but the author has put many stumbling blocks along the way for them so that the reader is kept guessing as to whether they might make it as a couple by the end of the book. There are many other more minor characters who come to the forefront at times with interesting storylines as well; their stories are skilfully woven into the main plot. Tension mounts as the Christmas deadline for the cafe opening draws closer; story telling at its best.

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

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Review: Coming Home to Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters

Beth Williams hasn't been home for ten years. When she fell pregnant at just sixteen, knowing that her family would never approve, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate that had been her home, building a new life for herself and her daughter hundreds of miles away.
But when her father begs her to return home to see her gravely ill grandmother, Beth is apprehensive at the thought of seeing her family again. With her daughter Isabelle, now a feisty ten-year-old, in tow, she plans to cut her visit as short as she can whilst fulfilling her duty.
Beth has worked hard to leave her past behind her, living in London with Isabelle and working hard to be the best single mother she can be. Returning to the Glendale Hall estate means facing her strict and unaffectionate mother, formidable grandmother, as well her teenage boyfriend, Drew, who broke her heart and doesn't know that he has a daughter.
But Beth is about to discover that everyone has their own version of the past, and the true story she thought she knew for the last ten years might well be a very different one to the truth. Will Beth be able to find it in her heart to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? Or will she end up running away all over again?

Review: Oh my goodness this storyline had everything, twists and turns, romance and a mother daughter relationship to rival that of the Gilmore Girls! Seriously if you love Lorelai and Rory, you will love this book too!

This is a Christmas story but this just happens to be set at the most wonderful time of the year so this would absolutely be alright to read at any time of year. I loved the festive touches here and there and the effect the cold had on our main characters but this book is really a homecoming and everything that comes with that. There are secrets to be uncovered, romances to be had, more secrets to be uncovered and bonds to be rebuilt and I loved the balance of all of these aspects f the plot, they were just woven together so beautifully. 

Of course I love the characters and well, Beth and Izzy are a great mother daughter combo. Beth is such a great character because she is independent and yet she isn't quite sure how she's going to move forward from the position she has found herself in. I loved her vulnerability whilst still being so strong! Izzy just provides the counteracting point to some of Beth's moments and together they are just such a cute little family. Of course Beth is home to see the rest of her family and there are many skeletons in closets and past mistakes that need to be explored there but I loved watching them reconnect and grow together. 

And then there are the friends the Beth left behind, we have Drew, Rory and Heather and they form a great squad when they are all in the same place. I loved Rory's comedy moments, he and Izzy really do lighten the atmosphere sometimes. 

This book is also about a sense of that lost community spirit from so many of our smaller towns and villages, I loved watching Beth rediscover what is was like to grow up in a small town and see the perils facing that community as a whole. This is a great take on what modern society can and has become and possible suggestion in how to fix it. 

I would love to see a sequel to this book, perhaps with a business plan from lovely Beth and I really really hope there will be one because I would love to revisit these characters and Glendale hall again. Highly recommend. 

The paperback is currently on an awesome offer, just click here to order your copy now!

Monday 23 September 2019

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Jonathan Whitelaw Author of The Man in The Dark

I am lucky enough to be part of another fab blog tour today. This one celebrate The Man in The Dark by Jonathan Whitelaw which comes out on Thursday. I have a guest post from Jonathan today and if you like the sound of that, you can click here to pre-order your copy of the book. Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!

Here's what it's all about...

The Devil's back - and he's STILL not had a holiday.
There's another mystery to solve - a woman kidnapped by terrorists and the world trying to find her. While he hates doing God's bidding, The Devil can't resist trying to put one over on Him. But nothing is EVER that simple.
While the Devil helps the London cops crack the case, there's trouble in the Underworld. And two of humanity's greatest backstabbers - Brutus and Cassius - are sharpening their knives with an eye on stealing his crown.
It's a race against time to find the girl, be the bad guy and maybe stop the apocalypse.

And here's Jonathan's words of wisdom on his inspiration...

            One of the real head scratching questions I’ve been asked since HellCorp came out has been - where did you get your idea from? The simple answer is - I’m not quite sure.
            Now I know that’s a cop-out. And it’s also strictly not true. So yes, I’m a big fibber. I’m terrible, I know!
            The idea for the series really came from my frankly appalling jealousy of all the great crime writers out there doing so much great work. Denise Mina, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, seriously, they’re just SO good at what they do. And the green-eyed monster bit me bad. As a writer, I always knew I could try and turn my hand to anything. It comes from my work as a digital journalist where you don’t know what story will come across your desk next. One minute it might be breaking news about a terrible fire or car crash, the next you’re interviewing a stand-up comedian about their show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Then the next hour it’s onto the complexities and backstabbing of politics. And after lunch you could be covering court cases.
            Don’t get me wrong, I love it, I thrive on it and I’m very, very lucky to be able to do it almost every day. And that has normally translated to my fiction writing too. Except crime. I guess I was just too scared to start - which is always a killer for any project.
            I gave myself a shake and realised this was an itch that needed scratching. So I started thinking about what my leading character would be like. Now we’ve seen, quite literally, every sort of cop-on-the-edge there is. If they aren’t alcoholics they’re sociopaths. If they aren’t renegades who play by their own rules then they’re single parents struggling with the work/life balance. On and on and on, we’ve been there before a hundred times.
            I wanted my detective to be different. I wanted an anti-hero but they were all busy. So I thought, hold on, who’s the ultimate anti-hero? There really was only one candidate. The Prince of Darkness, Old 666, The Man in the Dark himself - The Devil.
            And from there the book really took shape. With that central character of a smart-alecky, fiercely intelligent, opinionated and suave Satan, the pieces all came together nicely. The rest of the cast slotted into place and HellCorp was born.
            Now we’re sitting with The Man in the Dark ready to go. The Devil is back but perhaps not as everyone is expecting. There’s set to be a few surprises even he wasn’t expecting. And throwing those curve-balls in his direction is what keeps me going. Brilliant stuff.  

Author Info
Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste with everything in between. He's also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. ‘HellCorp’ is his second novel following his debut, ‘Morbid Relations’.

Twitter Handles


Thanks so much to Jonathan for stopping by and sharing that with us today. Don't forget to check out the rest of the blogs on the tour!

Saturday 21 September 2019

Blog Tour: Review of A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker

Today I am lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker. I have a review of the book for you today and if you like the sound of that then you can click here to order your copy now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and giveaways!

Here's what its all about...

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One shot at love...
There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn't one of them.
At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a 'proper' grown-up. She's eternally strapped for cash, she hasn't had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won't stop asking her out. The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.
But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

Review: I have to admit, the tagline about the pub quizzes was what hooked me in a then it was like this author had lifted scenes directly from my life (I love q pub quiz) it was just so relatable. I love the fact that we had a Yorkshire setting as well, more books should definitely be set in Yorkshire. So quizzing, Yorkshire and some steamy romance-its the perfect mix!

Clarrie was an interesting main character and was definitely intriguing too. I like the fact that she is super guarded and very independent because I can relate to that and know a lot of people with that personality combination. She is very loyal to her friends though too and I loved her for that. The friendship group is a great mix of people and could definitely have been lifted right from the kind of people I went to school with. This author has got that school friendship group spot on. 

I mentioned steamy romance in this novel but you definitely have to have patience in order to get to the steamier scenes. There is quite a lot of setup of the pub quiz league during the first 20% as we establish who these characters are but the book definitely moved at a quicker pace after this initial world building. This book is also very dialogue driven so if that isn't your thing, you might not want to pick this one up. 

But onto the romance, This was a slow burn romance and follows one of my favourite romance tropes-friends to lovers. This is frustratingly slow sometimes but I really think this was a deliberate choice so that you know just how the characters are feeling-achingly slow and teasing. When we do get some action though-those scenes are HOT and i guarantee you will be satisfied with them!

Overall I loved the concept of this book. The first few chapters could have been a little pacier for me but I loved the romance at the end and I wanted to go and join their quiz team when all was said and done-if only I wasn't already tied to another team!

About The Author

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country... and she's still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

Thanks to much to Mary Jayne for stopping by the blog today and please remember to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Friday 20 September 2019

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Paul Tudor Owen Author of The Weighing of The Heart

Today I am lucky enough to be part of the blog tour for The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen. I have a guest post from the author today and if you like the look of that, you can click here to order yourself a copy of the book now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews!
Here's what it's all about...
Following a sudden break-up, Englishman in New York Nick Braeburn takes a room with the elderly Peacock sisters in their lavish Upper East Side apartment, and finds himself increasingly drawn to the priceless piece of Egyptian art on their study wall - and to Lydia, the beautiful Portuguese artist who lives across the roof garden.

But as Nick draws Lydia into a crime he hopes will bring them together, they both begin to unravel, and each find that the other is not quite who they seem.

Paul Tudor Owen's intriguing debut novel brilliantly evokes the New York of Paul Auster and Joseph O'Neill. 

Guest post – favourite character to write

My novel The Weighing of the Heart is about a young British guy living in New York called Nick Braeburn, who moves in with a couple of rich older ladies as a lodger in their opulent apartment on the Upper East Side. He gets together with their other tenant, Lydia, who lives next door, and the two of them steal a priceless work of art from the study wall.

The work of art that Nick and Lydia take is an Ancient Egyptian scene, and as the stress of the theft starts to work on them, the imagery of Ancient Egypt, the imagery in the painting, starts to come to life around them, and it’s intended to be unclear whether this is something that is really happening or whether it’s all in Nick’s head.

So Nick is the crucial character here and once I’d decided I wanted to write the novel in the first person, getting the narrator’s voice right was crucial.

I was always interested in establishing an unreliable narrator for this book who you initially trust and like, and then gradually become suspicious of – an interest that goes back to books like The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, a stunning novel about the prospect of wasting your life and the lengths you can go to to hide that from yourself. By the end of that book what the narrator, Stevens, is saying and what you as the reader take from that are two completely different things. It’s so skilfully done.

Another book I was thinking of when I was creating Nick’s voice was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, which is about a man who suspects the woman he loves is poisoning him. Throughout the novel, Du Maurier demonstrates an incredible ability to keep two entirely contradictory interpretations of the plot completely plausible in your mind, and I was aiming for something along those lines too.

And then from an early stage of drafting it I wanted Nick to be a Brit in New York, an outsider. Partly this was to allow myself to live out in writing a fantasy I had had since my late teens of living in New York – something I was lucky enough to be able to fulfil during the writing process. But partly it was because New York is a city of immigrants and newcomers and a melting pot for artists from around the globe and around America just as it is for everyone else, and I felt that that idea would come across most effectively through a foreigner.

In my view, some of the best writing and art and music about New York often comes from outsiders to the city who are looking at the place with fresh eyes. PJ Harvey, for example – whose Stories from City, Stories from the Sea is a quintessential New York album – is from Dorset, and I’ve always loved her description of a conversation on “a rooftop in Brooklyn / At one in the morning … We lean against railings / Describing the colours / And the smells of our homelands / Acting like lovers.”

Perhaps most significantly for my book, which is strongly indebted to The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald was from the Midwest, and his narrator in that unsurpassable depiction of New York, Nick Carraway, takes care to point out that all its key characters, “Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.”

I wanted my narrator, Nick Braeburn, to share some of these qualities, and gave him a similar name for that reason.

About the author

Paul Tudor Owen was born in Manchester in 1978, and was educated at the University of Sheffield, the University of Pittsburgh, and the London School of Economics. 

He began his career as a local newspaper reporter in north-west London, and currently works at the Guardian, where he spent three years as deputy head of US news at the paper's New York office.  

Paul Tudor Owen’s debut novel The Weighing of the Heart is published by Obliterati Press and has been nominated for the People’s Book Prize 2019 and the Not the Booker Prize 2019

Twitter: @paultowen
Instagram: @paultowen

Thanks to Paul for stopping by today and readers, remember to stop by the other spots on this tour!

Thursday 19 September 2019

Review: Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine

Alice is turning thirty and is stuck in a rut. Her friends are all coupling up and settling down, while she's still working as a temp, trying (and failing) not to shag her terrible ex, getting thrown out of clubs, and accidentally sexting her boss...
She decides to throw caution to the wind and jets off on a round-the-world adventure to #FindTheFun and find herself. Of course, she's no more likely to find the answer to true happiness on the beach in Thailand than she is at the electric beach in Tooting, but at least in Thailand there's paddleboard yoga.
Can Alice find happiness on her travels? Or is she more likely to lose herself all over again...?

Review: Oh my goodness I could not put this book down, it made me laugh, it made me feel and it quite simply made me keep turning the pages until I had had my fill-I just loved it. 

Alice is such a great character because she is so easy to relate to. We have all been there, wondering where our life is going and trying to do something about it when it just isn't going where we want it to. I loved Alice's decision making process and I loved her view of herself. I think a lot of us would struggle with being brave enough to go off and do the travelling that she did and so it was wonderful to live vicariously through here. She also has some amazing one-liners thanks to the awesome writing of Lucy Vine so you've got that to look forward to as well. 

There are some fab supporting characters in this book as well, all of whom add to some great comedy setup but also counteract some of Alice's personality traits. We get to meet friends in LA first then Alice's brother and his friend in Thailand and let's not forget bestie Eva back home in London. Then there are the men in Alice's life, another part of what makes her so relatable. She switches between thinking she needs to meet someone completely different and thinking that she's best to stick with the kind of guy she had back home. There are also some AMAZING one-liners when it comes to sex in this book none of which I will spoil for you but you are in for some spitting out the coffee with laughter moments there trust me!

When it comes to things like being sex positive and being body positive Alice is pretty open and honest. She hasn't got it quite right but she knows what it ought to look like and so this is a pretty open and honest book which is strongly feminist and definitely girl power and that's one of the things that really kept me turning the pages. I loved the fact that Alice knows what respect should look like even if she doesn't always look for it for herself, or others. Those around her also help with that and so I loved what this book had to say about the way we view women in society and the way they are often treated without explicitly coming out and saying in. 

There are definitely some serious moments in this book and Lucy Vine has achieved the perfect balance of some serious messages within the laugh out loud comedy. I loved this book. I loved the characters and the travel and the fab writing and I highly highly recommend it to you!

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

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Guest Review: A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde

Caro Swanson has taken a job in a remote part of Scotland.
She’s answered an ad in The Lady: being a companion to an elderly gentleman who lives in a country estate could be perfect! Surely it's time to make a change and do something different for a while?
The fact that she may also see Alec, the young man who she met some years previously and who she has always thought of as her ‘one who got away’, is of course purely incidental.
Soon Caro is falling in love - not only with Alec but with the stunning country house she's now living in. But the estate is in financial difficulties, and Caro soon realises there's only one way to rescue it.
So begins a magical romantic summer, one that will take Caro from Scotland to London and the south of France, in search of a classic lost perfume that might just restore all their fortunes.

Review: This latest book from one of my favourite authors is sure to catch the eye, with its fresh, summery cover. I’m sad to say that it sat calling to me from my bookshelf for a few weeks before life calmed down enough for me to give it the attention it deserved. Once I had time to sit down and delve into the story, it had me lost in its pages and all too soon it was finished. Another wonderful story from this great story teller. 

I think that the lovely cover says France to me, and there is a bit of France in the story, but it is set in Scotland, with a little bit of London thrown in. Caro has taken a job as companion to an elderly gentleman who lives in a crumbling but magnificent large house in the Scottish highlands. Caro usually resides in London on a Dutch barge with daughter Posy, but this temporary job seems ideal for her while Posy is off to visit her dad in Australia. When she arrives at the Scottish estate, she finds her accommodation not quite what she expected, and, although the old gentleman is just as described, the rest of the family is much more complicated. She soon becomes involved in all sorts of situations, mainly involving teenager Rowan and her divorced parents; and how did she end up planning a wedding and designing a perfume for a celebrity? Of course, the most difficult circumstance is that Rowan’s father, Alec, is someone who Caro met twenty years ago in Greece; she has never forgotten him, but will he remember her, and will it be with such fondness? 

This is a really engaging and enjoyable story, with its twists and turns and promise of romance for many of the characters. I can definitely recommend it to other readers, whether they have read any of Katie’s previous books or not. The Scottish estate makes a beautiful setting, so well described by the author. Although I love the highlands, I could equally well imagine enjoying living on Caro’s barge; again, I could picture it so well from Katie Fforde’s descriptions. The story is full of interesting characters and dramatic situations. Just as one seems settled another blows up - never a dull moment with this family that Caro has joined. The whole story had me enthralled and always coming back for more.

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