Friday 31 January 2020

2020 Reading Recommendations - ARCs and Proof Copies Spring TBR


Cover Reveal: Mum's Big Break by Louise Emma Clarke

I am very excited to bring you another cover reveal today. Now is the time to see the cover for Mum's Big Break by Louise Emma Clarke which is out on 23rd April in the UK and you can click here to pre-order your copy now! 

Here's what it's all about... 

Jess's life was turned upside down when her blog went viral. Now, with hundreds of thousands of followers, Jess is now navigating the trials and tribulations of a world online.
Being a mummy blogger was original an escape, but now it seems to be turning into a career. And after one wrong post on her social media channels, Jess discovers that life in the spotlight isn't always peachy.
With a new baby on the way, the possibility of starring in a reality TV show and a husband who's struggling with his wife's new-found fame, Jess has a lot going on.
Jess needs to decide whether this is everything she wanted it to be or whether this is all a bit too much for her? Can Jess persevere against the haters, rise up above the pettiness and find the perfect balance of life in the real world and life online?
And here's that cover for you...

Isn't it fab?

I'll be bringing you a review of this book closer to publication day but in the meantime, you can read my review of the first book in the series by clicking here

About the author

Louise's blog, Mum of Boys and Mabel has over 100k followers. Having moved to Dubai with her family she's now back in the UK and is enjoying writing. From Mum with Love is her debut novel.

 Follow Louise:  
Facebook: @mumboysandmabel
Twitter: @mumofboysmabel

Follow Aria
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Guest Review: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

Two love stories. One Impossible Choice.
Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They've been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.
But she's wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.
So now it's just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live - perhaps even to love - again.
But then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there's someone in her new life who wants her to stay?

Review: Having read and enjoyed Josie Silver’s debut novel, One Day in December, I was excited to start on her second book and also a little apprehensive as to whether it could possibly live up to the success of that first story. I needn’t have worried on that score; this turned out to be an amazing story that had me coming back to it whenever I could until it was finished.

Lydia Bird is utterly devastated when the love of her life and man she is soon to marry, Freddie Hunter, is killed in a car accident on his way home. Her grief is all consuming, and nobody, not even her mum or sister, Elle, can get through to her. Sadly, the accident has also affected her relationship with her one-time best friend, Jonah Jones, who was with Freddie that fateful day, and has also been badly affected by Freddie’s death. After months of worry, her mum persuades her to try some new medication to at least let her get some sleep. These little pink pills seem to Lydia to be her salvation, allowing her while in their influence to put her life with Freddie back on course. As time goes on, however, she starts to wonder if this is really what she wants or whether there is something better for her in her life in the real world.

This is an incredible story dealing with a very difficult subject in such a sensitive way. It is so well written that I felt totally immersed in Lydia’s world every time I sat down to read. In fact, Lydia’s heartbreak over her loss was so real that I found myself crying almost every time I picked up the book until I was half way through; beyond that there were some happy tears as well as sad ones. Her journey from a person almost destroyed by grief to a woman in charge of her life was marvellous to watch. The ending is very much what I hoped for, but I could never be quite sure would happen. This is definitely a book well worth going out and buying, but take heed of my warning about the need for a stack of tissues.

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

Thursday 30 January 2020

Review: It Won't Be Christmas Without You by Beth Reekles

From the author of the smash hit Netflix romcom The Kissing Booth!
Eloise, a self-confessed Christmas obsessive, can’t wait for the big day. Devoted to her Michael BublĂ© playlist, she’s organising the school nativity play and even her gorgeous Grinch of a neighbour, James, can’t get her down.
Her workaholic twin sister, Cara, on the other hand, plans to work over the holiday – and figure out what secrets her seemingly-perfect boyfriend George might be keeping from her.
The sisters used to be close but since Cara moved to London, everything’s been different. Only, Eloise isn’t giving up just yet, and with a white Christmas on the cards, Cara can’t fail to be moved by the magic of the season … can she?

Review: This book is short and sweet and super festive but I know you would love reading it at any time of year. This was exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up right before Christmas and I am so glad that I did. I kept turning the pages and humming the Christmas tunes and getting stressed over Christmas dinner just like these sisters!

I definitely identified with Elosie in this novel. She is super into Christmas and wants everything to be just perfect for the Christmas day. She is run off her feet at school and she feels it is really important to be together over Christmas. I also sympathised with Cara. We've all been the new one in a job and trying our level best to get noticed and make a good impression, but how much work is too much work?

I really loved the various plot points in this book. It had moments that felt like A Christmas Carol, moments of Trains Planes and Automobiles and then also a few moments that reminded me of aspects of The Family Stone. Speaking of movies, there are also some fabulous pop culture references in this book to Christmas songs and movies and I was here for them all the way. 

The romance in this book is super sweet. These women are not long out of college and moving onto not first loves but the one who comes after a first love and that was just fabulous to read about. Even if you are a little older than these characters (like me) you can recall back to that time and how wonderful it is to be discovering a new love at Christmas time. 

I just really enjoyed this book. I was appreciative of the speed of reading and the high level of festiveness throughout. Definitely put this one on your TBR for Christmas in July!

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

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Favourite Books of the Decade - 20 Book Recommendations


Guest Review: Coming Home to Winter Island by Jo Thomas

Do you need to find out where you've come from before you can know what the future holds?
Ruby's singing career is on the verge of hitting the big time, when her voice breaks. Fearing her career is over, she signs up for a retreat in Tenerife to recover.
But an unexpected call from a stranger on a remote Scottish island takes her on a short trip to sort out some family business. It's time to go and see the grandfather she's never met.
City girl Ruby knows she will be happy to leave the windswept beaches behind as quickly as she can, especially as a years-old family rift means she knows she won't be welcome at Teach Mhor.
But as she arrives at the big house overlooking the bay, she finds things are not as straightforward as she might have thought.
There's an unexpected guest in the house and he's not planning on going anywhere any time soon ...

Review: This is my first book from Jo Thomas. Set on a remote Scottish Island, the story looked right up my street, and, indeed, once I sat down to read, I was transported to that island and found it hard to come back to reality until I reached the end.

The main character in the book is Ruby Macquarrie, a singer on the verge of success, whose career dreams are thrown off course by a phone call from an unexpected source. Suddenly, instead of heading off to the Canary Islands on a retreat, she is on a ferry in the midst of choppy seas heading for Winter Island, and the Scottish house that was once home to her late father. The phone call was from the solicitor of her grandfather, a man she has never met due to a family breakup. Her seemingly simple task of signing papers that will allow the sale of the rundown house, releasing funds paying for her grandfather to be moved into care, is hampered by the presence in his house of a visitor who is not about to move out. As her stay on the island lengthens from the brief stop planned, she becomes more and more drawn into life there and towards the taciturn Lachlan, her grandfather’s guest.

I absolutely loved this well written story that left me with a warm feeling and an aching desire to visit Winter Island with all its beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and wealth of interesting inhabitants. Jo Thomas has captured life in such a community, where everybody knows everyone else’s business and they care for each other; they are certainly keen to find out what Ruby wants with her grandfather, Hector. I can easily picture the tall and strong Lachlan and enjoyed watching Ruby chip away at his dour exterior as the story progressed. Once she had him on side, they made a formidable team and I found myself cheering them on in their endeavours to do the best for her grandfather and save the island as a whole. I was hoping against hope for the outcome I envisaged. It would be wrong not to mention the fact that the story contains frequent mentions of food that had my mouth watering. Lachlan was apparently quite a cook, turning out a range of goodies from full meals and hearty soups to shortbread and scones. Gin also plays a big part in the story, as Ruby and Lachlan try to recreate the drink that was once produced so successfully I n the island’s distillery.

I have really enjoyed following Ruby’s emotional journey getting to know her grandfather and learning about her ancestors. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and will definitely be reading more from Jo Thomas.

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

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Love! 28/1/20

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Here are some covers I have fallen in love with recently...

Monday 27 January 2020

Readathon Announcement: Paige Toon Readalong


Blog Tour: Extract from Bella by RM Francis

I'm very excited to be part of the blog tour today for Bella by RM Francis. I have an extract to share with you today and you can read all about the author, including their social media links below that. First, here's what it's all about...

A spectre has haunted Netherton for generations.

Everyone has a theory, no one has an answer.
The woods that frame the housing estate uncover a series of heinous acts, drawing onlookers into a space of clandestine, queer sexuality: a liminal space of abject and uncanny experience.

A question echoes in the odd borderlands of being, of fear-fascination, attraction-repulsion, of sex and death…

Who put Bella down the Wych-Elm?

And here's that extract for you...

See, ‘round ‘ere weem always lookin’ back. Weem built from what come before us. Chains, steel, nails. Soot an’ smoke in the skies. Most of iss gone now. We’ve still got red bricks an’ concrete, corrugated metal an’ all that. But we ay got forges. We ay got mystic blacksmiths. We’ve got almost-barren high streets. We’ve got slick, glass, brass an’ plastic we’ve built over the works with – stockin’ rows ‘a dead ‘eaded credit controllers, PPI reps, retail consultants. We’ve got Merry Hill – an indoor town that spreads out in sanitised pound-zones. Then there’s what’s left-over. Little dry suburbs that sink between ‘ills, where dead factories am wrapped in weeds, an’ big ‘ousin’ estates, all wet an’ grey, an’ all punctured in electric light – them no go zones unless you’m from theya – each zone ‘as iss own ‘alf deserted Labour club, iss own brand ‘a menacin’ teen, iss own birr’a cut or brook or strange patch ‘a green land that mopes between a terrace row an’ the mechanic’s.     

Tony was wi’ me an’ ‘e sid it. 
Pokin’ out through a crack in the curb was a thin, green vine, an’ on the vine were tiny green tomatoes. Tony said it was like Detroit, ‘ow it was once the biggest industrial hub in the US, ‘ow nature ‘ad started to claim back the city now it’d run iss course. There was summat frightnin’ about that: it come out ‘a the ground, thass what them meant to do, but the ground was meant to be controlled by us, not weeds. I wondered what else was lurkin’ under our industry, waitin’ to come back. It med me think of Saltwells an’ where wid play when we was kids.     
Who put Bella down the Wych-Elm?

About the Author 

R. M. Francis is a writer from Dudley. He completed his PhD at the University of Wolverhampton for a project titled Queering the Black Country and graduated from Teesside University for his Creative Writing MA.
He's the author of four poetry chapbooks, Transitions (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2015), Orpheus (Lapwing Publications, 2016), Corvus' Burnt-Wing Love Balm and Cure-All (The Black Light Engine Room Press, 2018) and Lamella, (Original Plus, 2019).
Follow Rob on Twitter @rmfrancis

Sunday 26 January 2020

Movie Reviews: January 19th-25th 2020


Paige Toon Readalong Readathon

There are some books coming out this year that I am very excited about but probably one of my most anticipated 2020 releases is Paige Toon's new novel The Minute I saw You. This one publishes on 14th May in the UK and I just can't wait.

I was going through some of my top books of the decade at the end of last year and I noticed that I had a couple of Paige Toon novels sitting unread on my shelf so I thought what better way to get to them than host a readalong of all her back list titles in the run up to publication day of The Minute I Saw You? I spoke to my friend Hayley to see if she'd be on board and so we hashed out the details and here we are!

 We're going to be reading a book a week starting on February 1st and if there is a short story or sequel that goes with that book we'll be reading that in the same week too. I'll be vlogging the whole process and Hayley and I will be hosting some discussions over on social media too. 

I've listed all the books and reading date below. If a short story/sequel has its own ebook version I've listed that, otherwise it can be found in the bind up of all the short stories/sequels One Perfect Christmas-so you have options of how you would like to read. 

We would also love to read the Jessie Jefferson novels as well but we know that young adult isn't everyone's cup of tea, just like adult fiction isn't everyone's cup of tea, so we'll be doing those afterwards, at the end so you can choose to join in or not. 

I'm very excited about this readalong because some of these novels will be a first time read for me and others will be a much welcome re-read. I have some of these on audio, some on ebook and others in paperback form. Others I will be borrowing from my library so you have time to see if your library has them, or time to download or buy from your preferred outlet. I'll leave links to each book if you still need to track them down. 

Here are the books and dates-any questions, just leave a comment on this post or get in touch with Hayley or I over on social media...









Any questions or comments, just leave them below or get in touch with Hayley or I over on social media. And remember this is just a fun readalong and a way to get hyped up for The Minute I Saw You. You don't have to read all the books, feel free t jump in and out as you wish-happy reading!