Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Review: Day Zero by Kelly Devos

Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?

Review: This is one of those books that you really cant compare to anything else you've read because it is so different and so unique an despite the fact that it is a total cliche, this book had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

I'll admit that I haven't read a whole lot of books about teen coders surviving doomsday but that's clearly because I never knew I wanted to read about kick-ass girls like that! This book really does have everything, women defying gender stereotypes, villains that do unpredictable things, typical high-school friendship issues and of course just a little bit of romance. It is somewhat political, totally timely and I really enjoyed it. 

Jinx is a great main character because she does have all of those teen traits that we can recognise and identify with but then she has been trained by Dr Doomsday and is also an awesome coder who is great at surviving role play games in her online community. She makes for a wonderful heroines to spend the course of this book with. She has a step sister who is basically the opposite of her and so they counteract one another constantly but that can sometimes be helpful in certain situations. I can't wait to delve a little more into their relationship in the second half of this duology!

The real show-stealer here in terms of characters is little brother Charles, he is so sweet and so quirky and I just loved when he would come into a scene and complicate it or just make everything a little bit lighter. He has his own issues and they can often be problematic when you're trying to run from some unknown force in the middle of a desert. I loved the dynamic between these siblings and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of that in book two. 

In terms of events in this book, the plot is one of the twistiest I have read for a long time, I literally didn't predict anything that was going to happen along the way and sometimes you really need a book to come along and shake things up like that. There is quite a lot of violence in this book and peril at every turn so definitely exercise care there if that's not your thing. I will say though I don't think any of the violence or any of the scarier parts were there unnecessarily, I think they were all key to the plot and so I thought they were well-timed and added to that edge of your seat factor. 

Now I know you don't normally find me recommending doomsday survival novels on this blog but you do find me recommending books with brilliant character dynamics and kick-ass women defying all of those gender roles to make for some awesome page turning action scenes so I do highly recommend this book. My only issue with it is that now I have to wait for book 2 to come out and I'm just not sure how I'm going to last until it does!

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

October Reading Wrap Up 2019

So hands up who completely forgot to post their October wrap up... that would be me! So sorry. I think the whole being at Disney World (vlogs over on my channel, highlights on my insta) and the clocks going back and leaving my job just threw me for a loop and I forgot how to be a blogger entirely! So here is my October wrap up...

As always, if I have already reviewed a book I will leave a link to that review and will break my wrap up down into the format I read the books in. 


Physical Books


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Guest Review: Cragside by L J Ross

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again...

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

Review: This is the sixth book in the DCI Ryan mysteries by L J Ross. I came upon the series when it was already well established, so I am enjoying reading the books in quick succession. Some of the previous books have relied to some extent on having read others in the series, but, apart from containing recurring characters in DCI Ryan’s team, who readers of previous books in the series will have come to know, this one could definitely be read as a stand-alone.

The action here takes place almost entirely in a grand Northumberland house, Cragside, and in its grounds. While DCI Ryan and his fiancée, Anna, are attending a staff party at the house, there is an unexplained blackout, after which a body is discovered outside in the courtyard. During the investigation of this death, some interesting facts emerge about the victim, leading Ryan and his team to wonder if this was indeed an accident, as originally believed. When another body is found, this time in the grounds of the house, people begin to fear that a serial killer may be at large, and to wonder who will be the next victim. Ryan and his team are faced with a complicated situation that they must unravel before it’s too late. Meanwhile, his currently happy personal life looks as if it may be about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new member of the force.

As DCI Ryan is a member of a squad dealing with serious crime, you can be sure that there will be at least one suspicious death somewhere along the line in these stories. In common with other books in the series, the reader is given a little more information than the investigators, and a few clues to try and work out what is going on. The excitement in this and other books in the series is that while you have faith in Ryan, you are never sure who is safe. Nobody is ever immune from the unwanted attention of the wrongdoer. I’m certain that anyone who enjoys crime drama will like this book. It might appeal especially to people who know the area in which the story is set, although knowledge of that region is of course not necessary for its appreciation.

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

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

November 2019 TBR

November will be a busy month in terms of travel but I have some idea of what I want to read too. It is also nonfiction November month so I have some nonfiction books specifically I want to get to as well as some November releases...

November Releases

November 12th (US)

November 9th (US)

November 14th (UK)

November 28th (UK)

Nonfiction November Reads

Other Books I Want to Get to

Monday, 4 November 2019

Blog Tour: Review of The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

After being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, Hattie is feeling lost. Even more so when her high-flying boyfriend announces he’s landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him. Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, festive town of Wynbridge, determined to give her a Christmas to remember . . .

Upon Hattie’s arrival, holiday preparations are in full swing. But for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it’ll take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more. Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.

As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she in fact realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?

Review: Well this book had me feeling all warm and cosy and festive from page one and kept me there right up until the end. This book is like a hug with substance, I didn't want it to end! I absolutely love a Hedi Swain Christmas novel but there is definitely something special about this one. I bought the audiobook and the narration is wonderful, it gets the tone of the story just right. If you're looking for a pick-me-up, this is definitely something to buy and read and love and read again!

Hattie is a great character to share this book with because she is at somewhat of a crossroads in her life so we get to help her decide if she's going to make changes or stick to what she knows. I loved getting to know her and I really hope we get to hear more from her in future Heidi Swain spectaculars.  Dolly is also a great character, she is feisty and she is old enough not to care what anyone thinks, if she knows something might be unpopular, she does it anyway and she is super passionate about Christmas too-wonderful!

It was great to be back in Wynbridge again too and visiting lots of familiar faces. It's always great to see people and places you recognise. but have no fear, if you have not visited this town before, all are welcome and you will be able to follow Hattie's story as a newcomer, or a returning visitor either way. This book doesn't just highlight the fun of the festive season though, it also does tackle some bigger issues, particularly those surrounding a controlling relationship and what might be going on behind closed door. I enjoyed seeing this fully explored in this book because it didn't become and issues based story, but a festive tale with some more real aspects of life exposed as well. 

Can I just say that this book features and school and teachers and teaching assistants and does so in a highly real way. Often teachers in books get to come home at night and do nothing, this book features what its really like to be in a school at Christmas time and i applaud this author for writing her school so well. If that's something that's important to you too, you needed to hear this. 

This book made me laugh and cry but altogether I just had the most amazing time spending my days in Wynbridge with Hattie and Dolly and of course the handsome folk who reside there-love interest anyone? I know you're going to love this one so pop it on your festive reading list now!

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

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Guest Review: Always Managing: My Autobiography By Harry Redknapp

‘From kicking a ball as a kid under the street lamps of Poplar and standing on Highbury's North Bank with my dad, to my first game at West Ham, I was born head over heels in love with football. It saved me, and 50 years on that hasn't changed one bit - I'd be lost without it…’

Harry is the manager who has seen it all - from a dismal 70s Portakabin at Oxford City and training pitches with trees in the middle to the unbeatable highs of the Premiership, lifting the FA Cup and taking on Real Madrid in the Champions League. With his much loved, no-nonsense delivery, Harry brings us a story filled with passion and humour that takes you right inside every drama of his career.

Harry finally tells the full story of all the controversial ups and downs - the pain and heartache of his court case, the England job, his love for Bobby Moore, his adventures at Portsmouth with Milan Mandaric, the Southampton debacle, Tottenham and Daniel Levy, and not forgetting his years at West Ham or the challenges at his current club QPR.

It’s the epic journey of one of the great managers and, along the way, the story of the British game itself over the last five decades. In an era now dominated by foreign coaches Harry is the last of an old-fashioned breed of English football man - one who has managed to move with the times and always come out fighting.

Review: This is the second autobiography by the former footballer and football manager Harry Redknapp, written with the assistance of Martin Samuel. It describes his career as a footballer, playing on the right wing for the Tottenham Hotspur youth team, before playing the bulk of his career as a professional footballer for West Ham United and Bournemouth. Following the end of his playing days in England, he had a spell playing and coaching in the USA for Seattle and Phoenix.

On returning to England, he had periods as manager of numerous clubs, including Bournemouth, West Ham United, Portsmouth, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers. The book describes, in an informal, almost conversational, style his experiences over this time, including such high points as steering Portsmouth to FA Cup victory in 2008 and managing Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League. There are numerous anecdotes throughout describing many of the colourful characters he has met during his career. These include the England legend Bobby Moore, alongside whom Harry played at West Ham United, and the talented, if temperamental, Italian player Paulo Di Canio whom Harry managed at the same club. It is interesting to read about the contrast between the culture of British footballers during the 1960s and that of more recent years when the influx of overseas footballers resulted in a change in attitudes towards training, conditioning and nutrition. There are also numerous stories about the relationships, good and bad, he has had with chairmen and staff members of various football clubs he has managed.

Although the bulk of the book is concerned with football, there are details of his private life. This includes a chapter devoted to his trial, in 2012, for tax fraud, when he was acquitted of all charges. However, the book is mainly about football and his style of management, particularly in relation to his ability to wheel and deal in the transfer market. As such, it should appeal to all football fans.

The book was published in 2013, so details of his later management career with Birmingham City, or of his winning the 2018 TV series of "I'm a celebrity...get me out of here!" are not included. As can be seen from Harry's CV, this is an entertaining autobiography by a very colourful character.

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

Friday, 1 November 2019

Guest Review: Starlight Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett

Starlight Over Bluebell Castle is the third book in the delightfully uplifting Bluebell Castle trilogy!
The most magical time of the year…
Jessica Ridley’s life has just been turned upside-down – and not in a good way! So when blast-from-the-past Tristan Ludworth invites her to stay at Bluebell Castle and transform it into a winter wonderland, it’s the perfect distraction for Jess and her two young children…
Jess is used to planning even the most elaborate events in her sleep, but she certainly didn’t expect to be working so closely with Tristan at the castle – or that she could still find him quite  so handsome after all this time!
And with a little holiday magic in the air, it’s becoming harder and harder to resist his charms. Can Tristan convince Jess to give love one more chance, just in time for Christmas?

Review: This is the third part of the Bluebell Castle trilogy from Sarah Bennett. The stories deal with the lives of the Ludworth family, whose ancestral Derbyshire home has been nicknamed Bluebell castle due to the stunning display of these flowers in the grounds each spring. Each part of this trilogy can be read as a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading each in turn, as they make a wonderful set. As I expected, having read several books by Sarah Bennett, once I began reading this current Bluebell Castle story I was hooked.

Each part of this series has centred on one member of the youngest generation of the Ludworth family, triplets Arthur, Igraine and Tristan. This time it’s the turn of Tristan to be in the limelight. In previous parts, readers have learned of the family’s struggle to secure the future of their home following the death of the triplets’ father and the financial difficulties he left behind. A year on finds Tristan using his events management experience to try to establish the castle as a luxury Christmas vacation venue and to turn the grounds into a winter wonderland. In need of an assistant, he turns to one-time colleague and romantic interest Jess, whose marriage has broken down and is facing an uncertain future. Jess and her two young sons soon find themselves ensconced in the castle where she uses her skills to help Tristan in his attempts to fulfil his dream. As she is drawn further and further into the family and nearer to Tristan, Jess wonders how she will be able to leave once the festivities are over and she has to find another job.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is full of warmth and romance, to say nothing of Christmas magic. Having read the other parts of the trilogy, it was lovely to return to the familiar Ludworth family home and meet up with the inhabitants once more. They are all such likeable characters and so welcoming to everyone; I would certainly like to experience one of their luxury Christmas breaks where it seems every wish a guest could possibly have can be granted. I am really going to miss Bluebell Castle and will undoubtedly go back and read all the parts of the trilogy again. This part would make an excellent Christmas gift for a friend, or just for yourself!

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