Saturday, 31 October 2020

Guest Review: I, Robot: How to be a Footballer 2 By Peter Crouch


What happens on the pitch is only half the story.

Being a footballer is not just kicking a ball about with twenty-one other people on a big grass rectangle. Sometimes being a footballer is about accidentally becoming best mates with Mickey Rourke, or understanding why spitting is considered football's most heinous crime.

In How to be a Footballer, Peter Crouch took us into a world of bad tattoos and even worse haircuts, a world where you're on the pitch one minute, spending too much money on a personalised number plate the next. In I, Robot, he lifts the lid even further on the beautiful game. We will learn about Gareth Bale's magic beans, the Golden Rhombus of Saturday night entertainment, and why Crouchy's dad walks his dog wearing an England tracksuit from 2005.

'Whether you're an armchair expert, or out in the stands every Saturday, crazy for five-a-side or haven't put on a pair of boots since school, this is the real inside story of how to be a footballer.'





Review: Peter Crouch is a retired footballer who played for a number of clubs, scored over 100 goals in the Premier League and holds the record for the most headed goals in that League. He represented England on 42 occasions, scoring 22 goals for his country. He retired from playing in July 2019. This book is a sequel to his previous book “How to be a Footballer”. Like his earlier work, this is a collection of anecdotes based on his experiences of 20 years as a professional footballer, rather than a chronological autobiography. It is divided into chapters covering such diverse topics as food, referees and chairmen.

Like his previous book, this sequel is full of amusing anecdotes, with the author's sense of humour and his love of the beautiful game scattered throughout. The final chapter discusses his thoughts on retiring from football and his experience of hosting a podcast for the BBC. So, if you want to know about the author’s encounter with the actor Mickey Rourke in Miami; why there there is no demand for referees’ replica kits; or some of the eccentricities of football agents, then this is the book for you.


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

Friday, 30 October 2020

Review: When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

 They need him to remember. He wants to forget.


1918. In the last week of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. When questioned, it becomes clear he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.
 
The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home. His doctor James is determined to recover who this man once was. But Adam doesn’t want to remember. Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his memory away, seemingly for good.
 
When a newspaper publishes a feature about Adam, three women come forward, each claiming that he is someone she lost in the war. But does he believe any of these women? Or is there another family out there waiting for him to come home?

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of war.


Review: This book was really compelling from the word go. It takes a well-written historical fiction novel to get m interested because I don't normally enjoy travelling back in time but I was so intrigued by Adam and his mysterious background I wanted to read on. 

This book is very much a book driven by Adam and his mysterious surroundings. The three women that claim him are all so interesting and all just a sad reminder of how many people were never found after either of the world wars. Each of the women is so different in her own way and you find yourself wishing that one of them did belong in Adam's life, for their sake as much as for Adam's. 

This book also has a lot of heart to it. The doctors looking after Adam, James in particular, each have their own lives and yet they put their heart and soul into finding out what happened in Adam's past that they risk their own personal lives. There is just a lot of love being poured into Adam from every direction. 

I really liked the setting of this book. For a book set during a post-war era there aren't many scenes involving war or battle even when remembering moments in the past and yet there is a lot of reminder that this book is set in and around the lake district and I loved that. There are scenes in Ambleside and in Oxenholme train station and so I found it really easy to picture myself there because these are place I know well. 

In terms of plot, I found the mystery aspect of it very intriguing and it kept me turning the pages but I was a little dissatisfied in the ending. I think I wanted things to end a certain way and I didn't get my wish and so after 482 pages I did feel a little let down. I enjoyed the journey but not quite so much where we ended up. 

If you enjoy a novel set in and around post-war England or if you like a little mystery in your historical fiction then I am sure you will enjoy this one. 

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

Book Vs Movie: What About The Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll in How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran?


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Thursday, 29 October 2020

Guest Review: Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.

When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?


Review: This is one of my favourite times of year, when all the lovely Christmas books are starting to appear. As a confirmed fan of Sue Moorcroft’s writing, I am always eagerly awaiting her annual Christmas story, wondering where it might transport me. In this case, I was delighted to be taken on a trip to Sweden, as well as revisiting the little village of Middledip, which will be familiar to other fans of Sue’s books as it is the setting of many. I was spellbound by this captivating, snowy story and devoured it in no time.

The heroine of the tale, Hannah, is living in Stockholm when the story begins, running her own gift shop and living, not altogether happily, with boyfriend Albin. She is delighted when she receives a surprise visit from Nico, her brother’s best friend who she has known for many years as they all grew up together in the village of Middledip. However, soon after, and with Christmas fast approaching, Hannah finds herself returning to her family home having lost her dream business and split up with Albin. Coincidentally, Nico has also returned to Middledip, accompanied by his two little girls. When his father is taken ill in Sweden, Hannah offers to accompany him on a visit there to help with the children. It looks as if there could be a spark of romance between Hannah and Nico, but a series of obstacles and misunderstandings keep getting in the way.

I can highly recommend this as one of my favourite Christmas books for this year. It is a cosy and festive story full of drama and friendship, and oozing marvellous characters. I absolutely adored Nico’s little girls, the very sensible 8-year-old and the sweet 2-year-old, and was impressed by his skills as a single parent. I thought he was quite a catch and kept wanting to give Hannah a push. Hannah’s family were also lovely and so supportive. Of course, the trip to Sweden was terrific. Sue Moorcroft has done her research well, providing the reader with a great tour of the country and details of some of its Christmas traditions. I could almost feel the snow crunching under foot. If you are not already familiar with Sue Moorcroft’s books, this would be a good place to start; it would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s Christmas stocking.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Blog Tour: Review of The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain


Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain. I have a review of the book to share with you today and if you like the sound of that then you can click here to order yourself a copy 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...

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya's family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .


Review: Oh so lovely to be back in Nightingale Square and for Christmas this time. When I picked up the book I really didn't know there was such a thing as a Winter Garden, I assumed that the Grow-Well sites and the gardens of the house would just be getting turned over during the colder weather but NOW I want to get out there and plant some bulbs using Freya's trick. You don't have to be into gardening to enjoy this book, I'm not and I loved learning all Freya's methods!

Heidi Swain always does a great job of taking a character or characters who have had a tough time, they're a little down trodden and just trying to make the most of a bad situation and building them up over the course of a novel. This time we have Freya and her canine friend Nell and I loved meeting them both. What I really loved though was getting to watch Freya grow and change over the course of this book, I loved getting to see her blossom and also we get to see Nell getting a better life and loving her new surroundings too. 

Of course we are back in Nightingale square for this book and so we get to revisit some of our old friends and catch up with them. It was fab to see how Luke and Kate are expanding their family and if you haven't read the other books with this setting, don't worry, Heidi explains how they all fit together and who is who so you can get to meet them all at the same time that Freya does. The character I really loved seeing was Chloe and I loved all that we get to learn from her. It was wonderful to see her blossom too and I enjoyed reading her side storyline. 

It wouldn't be a Heidi Swain book without the kind of relationship will they won't they that gives you those new romance butterflies. Heidi makes use of my favourite romance trope in this book and I was rooting for it all the way. I also really loved that we got to see even more non-straight romance, I love when I can see diversity in a book that is organic and not just thrown in there to tick a box and so I love what this writer included for a certain resident of the square this time. 

This book is very much a winter book rather than a Christmas book which feels a little bit different for this author however it has been ages since I have read a seasonal book that is just celebrating the season and not tied to a specific holiday and so if you are looking to kick off your Christmas reading with just a little taster, this one would be the perfect first winter book of the season. I am sure you will be cheering on Freya and Nell throughout just like I was!



Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Reading Vlog: How Much Can I Read in 24 Hours?


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Scared Me 27/10/20


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.

Ok so today is a Halloween freebie and although I don't read horror novels I do read thrillers and I do read books that definitely scare me, take my breath away and give me the chills so here re my top 10...















Monday, 26 October 2020

Review: A Friend of The Family by Lisa Jewell

 A stranger in your home can only mean trouble . . .

The London family is in crisis.

Newly-divorced Tony is fantasizing about someone he shouldn't.

Prize-winning writer Sean has a hot new girlfriend, and a dose of writer's block.

Their brother Ned has just come back from Australia, leaving his girlfriend behind.

And now they have a new lodger - a mysterious stranger.

But is he the friend this family needs, or a troublemaker they could do without?



Review: I really enjoyed this backlist Lisa Jewell title. I love books where we get to know a whole family and spend time with each member of that family. It reminds me of classic Marian Keyes or those kind of family dramas that revolve around siblings on TV. Whilst we have a mysterious incomer to the family in the form of an unexpected lodger, the title of this one could mean any member of this family, are they actually looking out for one another or just playing it that way on the surface. 

I was sucked into this story right from the beginning because I was so intrigued by how these brothers all related to one another. They've all found themselves at a crossroads of sorts and so have kind of come to rely on the family home and the unit to support them at these interesting times. I think I found myself siding with Ned a lot more than the other brothers because he had taken certain risks in his life that I admired although Toby did seem to be a support for every member of the family, including those who were related through relationships rather than by blood. 

One of the things that Lisa Jewell always does so well is to drip feed a small amount of information at a time when it comes to character development so we find out something about one character and then the story moves on to find out whats going on with another character so you have to keep turning the pages and reading on to find out how that information fits with the story and how the other characters are going to react to that!

I loved being back in a Lisa Jewell novel. This one reminded me of a cross between Ralph's Party, the Making of Us and The House We Grew Up In so if you liked any of those I am sure you will like this one too!


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


Sunday, 25 October 2020

Movie Review: Which Version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches Is My Recommendation?


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Blog Tour: Tentoria by Sorin Banu @lovebooksgroup @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

 


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Tentoria by Sorin Banu. I have an interview with the author today and if you love the sound of this book you can click here to order your copy now. 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...

An army of bionic humans made up as a last ditch solution to establish peace will turn against humanity.

In the 22nd century, mankind enters into a new world war to produce the first generation of Tentorians. Cyborgs with functioning bodies and human intelligence, they are the first genuine success in the artificial improvement. In time, the Tentorians come officially to be a nation, showing more and more their true nature: blood and power-thirsty, human-bodied machines. Thus, in the 25th century, the great powers made up their minds to hunt them down all over the world and have them isolated inside a region called TENTORIA.

A Tentorian nation that will bear consequences on the past.

The action moves back in time 500 years, to the year 2024 and to a planet Earth consisting but of a piece of land surrounded by one single large ocean, and a population of 12 million people ruled by a secret organization. Cole is a 27-year-old young man leading a happy life in this peculiar world. As the story unfolds, he realizes the reality of his existence at break-neck speed on the edge of survival.

“Are you ready to forget the future?”



And here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I have been entranced since an early age by questions like: "Where mankind is heading? How we really came into being? How large is the universe? Who or what lies behind the rules governing our existence? What is soul? What is life? etc., so I started with writing down all sorts of ideas and possible theoretical scenarios in a philosophical themed manuscript only to realize in time that I like words and enjoy building up ideas.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

Did more the few years before launching Tentoria. These days is just a bit during weekends. Hopefully, one day I will come back to the good habits of writing more.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

Not necessarily. It is worth mentioning I like Frank Herbert, George R.R. Martin, Isaac Asimov.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I am not very good in developing complex characters, though I would like to improve on this skill. I develop characters to the strict necessary, based on the story needs; and not so much based on real people.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

As I’ve always liked action and Sci-Fi movies, and been an emerging technologies freak, I told myself it would be interesting to create an enticing story easy to be read; and I started from my philosophical notes wrote in the above mentioned manuscript.

That’s how "Tentoria" came to light and, leaving aside the ideas behind the story, I hope it is an absorbing narrative who will keep you glued to it up to the end.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

In short: I write a bit at a time, but is good to have an overall plan.

One of the things I enjoyed most: to have a puzzle built first and then to start taking it apart; to scatter its pieces along the narration, using some of the last pieces in the beginning without betraying the outcome, but trying at the same time to have the story flow and to hook the reader as often as possible.

At the beginning, it was hard to plan all these because I haven’t played previously with such techniques. As writer, in particular a debutant one, you experience a great satisfaction in having the reader at last finding the blanks in the puzzle as you orderly left them there.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

Not of me but a lot of my philosophy.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

Quite some, e.g. medical, on technology, and a lot about Iceland, which I discovered more while writing Tentoria – a must visit country I would say. I have even done a lot of Google-ing on weapons (needed for the action in the book), so much that if someone had checked my profile based on my searches, he would have thought I am planning a terrorist attack .

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Nowadays reviews are the most important marketing tool; these are vital especially for an unknown author like me. Many thanks upfront to every reader that could spend a few minutes leaving an honest review to my book.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

A few, yes. However, more important is that they helped me with lots of reviews. Through them, I learned what wasn’t working in same parts of the book and I made corrections. Good occasion to thank them again here.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

The publication day was great, for both versions, Romanian and English. Being the first book, probably they were two of the most memorable days of my life.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I am not a true fan of GOT nor read it entirely, but I really like how R.R. Martin writes.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

In the very little time I write, second volume of Tentoria. Yes, it should have a sequel.

Thank you!


Author Bio


Sorin Banu published his first book in May 2016, the dystopian novel "Tentoria". He has graduated in Economics and his professional career has been in the IT consulting. He was born in Bucharest and currently lives in Brussels. He is passionate about metaphysics and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality etc., areas that have undoubtedly inspired him in his first book.







Friday, 23 October 2020

Book Vs Movie: Did I Prefer Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca or Netflix’s Version?


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Review: Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

After calling off her fall wedding, horror novelist Amy Fox is left with a broken heart, a mega case of writer’s block, and a serious aversion to all things pumpkin spice. When she receives news that her grandfather has broken his wrist driving through a Dunkin Donuts—literally straight through the front windows—five hundred miles away, in her hometown of Autumnboro, New Hampshire, Amy has no choice but to return to check on him. If she doesn’t make sure that he’s back on his feet, Grandpa may be moved into assisted living, and Amy’s beloved childhood home will be put on the market.

Knowing she must return, Amy worries about the only thing worse than pumpkin spice—a reunion with Kit Parker—her childhood best friend, first love, and entire reason for skipping town in the first place. As the two reconnect, a second chance seems possible...if only Kit weren’t holding on to a secret that just might unravel everything.


Review: Oh this was such a cute story. I love a bit of small town romance an d I need a decent dose of it every now and again. This one had the added sweetness of those fall colours and that pumpkin spice scent. I also love a story about someone returning home. 

Amy is a great main character for this novel because she is heartbroken and so we start off by supporting her in that and also because she is a writer. When you read a book about someone who writes books it is always a fun ride. Amy hasn't always made the best choices but she is great at advocating for herself and I loved that about her. I also love the fact that family means so much to her. She has a great heart but isn't afraid to show her dominant side so we got along just fine. 

I also really loved the romance in this novel. The returning home and meeting up with a former love is definitely a trope I can get on board with and the romance in this book is just revved up by the fact that all of this is happening in a small town during fall with some Pumpkin Spice seasoning sprinkled on top. There is nothing raunchy or super sexy about this one and so it was a refreshing read because sometimes you just need more sweetness and less heat. I could see this one playing out as a hallmark movie and I was so happy about that. 

I did listen to this one on audio and the narration was really good but I did this as a buddy read and so I can vouch for the quality of the kindle book too. I really enjoyed this novel and it was the perfect fall version of a Christmas novel we all need right now. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US (still currently free on UK Kindle!)


Thursday, 22 October 2020

Review: One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell

 After her number-one single she was never heard of again . . .

Fifteen years later, Bee Bearhorn is found dead in her flat.

Ana Willis always day-dreamed about the exotic half-sister she hadn't seen in years. Now she comes to London to sort through Bee's possessions, only to find a life more surprising and mysterious than even she imagined.

Along with Bee's closest friends, Ana sets out to discover exactly what happened to her half-sister, the one-hit wonder . . .


Review: This was a it of a slow starter for me, I took a little while to bond with these characters but once I got back into the swing of Lisa Jewell's signature slow drip of information when it comes to getting to know people in her books I race through the rest of the novel. 

I loved the mystery surrounding Bee as a character. I feel like we never really got to know exactly what makes her tick and so she is someone who has stuck with me long after reading the book. I found it so intriguing that Bee's family didn't really know her either and I like that Ana really tried hard to bond with a sister who was so absent. 

Ana on the other hand never really knew herself. She has played it safe when it comes to life and so looking into Bee's past really does help with her own future. I like that this was a coming of age novel if you're jut following Ana's story because she is a good person and I really enjoyed watching adventure allow her to blossom!

The idea of whether we really know those around us is fully explored in this novel and I think that although this was written a few years ago now, it is still timely and relevant today. There are many moments of Lisa Jewell's signature writing and character description and so if you have enjoyed her other novels, I am sure you will enjoy this one too. 

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


Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Guest Review: One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.
And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…
As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

Review: I always enjoy Sarah Morgan’s writing, and particularly look forward to her Christmas book each year; whenever it appears on my Kindle, I know I’m in for a treat. This one certainly didn’t disappoint, as it had me lost in the story in no time and rarely have I felt so disappointed to reach the end of a book and leave the characters behind.

The story revolves around the Mitchell family. Mother Gayle Mitchell is a successful New York business woman who, as a single parent, has brought up daughters Samantha and Ella in a way that she thought best prepared them for a hard world, but which, unfortunately, has ultimately driven them away. The sisters have not seen their mother for five years when a tragic accident has Gayle wanting to reconnect with them. She thinks that an ideal way of reuniting the family would be to spend Christmas together. Thinking back to their childhood Christmases with a mother who saw no point in all the celebrations, the girls are horrified at the thought of spending it with her this year. There is also the problem that a lot has happened in the time they were estranged - Samantha has her own successful travel business and Ella now has a husband and daughter. However, they all set off for a Christmas holiday in the highlands of Scotland, staying in a large country estate owned by Brodie McIntyre, his mother and sister. Samantha was due to pay a flying visit to this new holiday destination with a view to adding it to her recommended destinations for customers, but suddenly she is staying there for real as a tourist. Is this Christmas going to be the nightmare the girls imagine, or is it going to be the making of the family?

I can highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a heartwarming Christmas romance with a strong storyline. It has a wonderful mix of romance, humour and heartache. I found myself completely immersed in the Mitchell family’s world and was easily transported to the snowy Scottish highlands. The picture that the writing conjured up in my mind was so real that I was surprised not to find snow outside when I finally emerged from the book. I would love to be spending my holiday on that estate, but I fear I could never afford it. I thought the characters Sarah Morgan created were all very strong, if not all loveable. Gayle comes over as a hard-headed business woman, but as her story unravels as the pages turn her daughters and the reader begin to understand her parenting motivations and see the person underneath. In addition to the Mitchell family, the McIntyres, including the ruggedly handsome Brodie, also have their own interesting stories. This is another triumph of a Christmas story from a favourite author; I’m already looking forward to her next book.


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

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Book Vs Movie: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland, How Does the Amazon Prime Movie Compare?


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Because They Were Recommended To Me 20/10/20


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.

This is a combination of books recommended to me by other BookTubers and books recommended to me by authors. There's always a lot of pressure to read a book when someone has recommended it to you but thankfully most of these were a hit for me!













Monday, 19 October 2020

Review: Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review from Penguin Random House Audio.

The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, featuring 100 immigrant women who have shaped, and will continue to shape, our world.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World is the third book in the New York Times bestselling series for children. Packed with 100 all-new bedtime stories about the lives of incredible female figures from the past and the present, this volume recognizes women who left their birth countries for a multitude of reasons: some for new opportunities, some out of necessity.

Readers will whip up a plate with Asma Khan, strategize global affairs alongside Madeleine Albright, venture into business with Rihanna, and many more. All of these unique, yet relatable stories are accompanied by gorgeous, full-page, full-color portraits, illustrated by female artists from all over the globe.


Review: This was such a great collection of stories to add to the Rebel Girls collections. I have loved their previous books but this is the first of their books that I have listened to on audio thanks to Penguin Random House Audio. 

I will say that I am going to be getting a copy of this book from my library so that I can look at the wonderful illustrations that these books always have. They find the most fabulous artists to collaborate with and that is one of my favourite things about this book. I will also be revisiting some of my favourite stories from the book that I listened to and reading them again. 

I like the fact that this audiobook had several different narrators to tell each woman's story. I feel like it brought the book to life that we had a different voice for each person. I was also surprised by how many new amazing women I was introduced to. I am not someone who follows sport and so to be able to hear about sporting women who are also immigrant women who have been just amazing in their field was a real treat. 

As I say I haven't done an audio version of these books before and although it was well narrated part of the joy of these books is the illustrations and is also being able to flick to a particular page you want to read and seeing that woman brought to life in front of you. I do love the fact that this is available on audio though because it means that even more readers can access this and listen to the stories of 100 amazing immigrant women who changed the world. 

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


Saturday, 17 October 2020

Guest Review: Written in History Compiled by Simon Sebag Montefiore

WRITTEN IN HISTORY celebrates the great letters of world history, creative culture and personal life. Acclaimed historian Simon Sebag Montefiore selects over one hundred letters from ancient times to the twenty-first century: some are noble and inspiring, some despicable and unsettling; some are exquisite works of literature, others brutal, coarse and frankly outrageous; many are erotic, others heartbreaking. The writers vary from Elizabeth I, Rameses the Great and Leonard Cohen to Emmeline Pankhurst, Mandela, Stalin, Michelangelo, Suleiman the Magnificent and unknown people in extraordinary circumstances - from love letters to calls for liberation, declarations of war to reflections on death. In the colourful, accessible style of a master storyteller, Montefiore shows why these letters are essential reading: how they enlighten our past, enrich the way we live now - and illuminate tomorrow.




Review: This is a collection of over 100 letters, ranging from ancient to current times, compiled by the historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. Unlike electronic forms of communication, letters can be preserved for posterity and, as such, provide a snapshot of a particular time in history. The book is divided into various sections covering topics such as love, discovery, power and downfall. Each letter is preceded by a short, explanatory introduction giving biographical details about the writer and the circumstances under which the letter was written.

The letters are mainly those of people in positions of power, or literary figures. These range from a letter from Mark Antony to Octavian written around 33BC to a letter from Donald Trump to Kim Jong Un written in 2018. Since Simon Sebag Montefiore’s area of expertise is mainly the history of Russia, or of the Soviet Union which governed the former Russian Empire for much of the 20th century, there are many letters by Russian, or Soviet, writers. However, there are letters written by less famous people. An example of this is a letter written by a British Army Captain to his mother describing the Christmas truce of 1914 between British and German troops during the First World War.

I found the book, with its array of famous, and some infamous, characters from history, a fascinating read. Because of the nature of the book, it is something that can be dipped into for a short period if you don’t wish to settle down for a longer read. One of the things that struck me was that some of the issues that were being discussed in letters from historical times are still relevant today. I think two of my favourite letters are: one from Josip Tito, president of the former Yugoslavia, to Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, threatening the latter to call off assassins; and one left on the desk in the Oval Office of the White House by the outgoing president of the USA George Bush for the incoming president Bill Clinton wishing him well. With its wide cast of fascinating characters and covering a vast range of topics, there should be something amongst this collection of letters for everyone.


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

Friday, 16 October 2020

Giveaway & Movie Review: Based on the Inspirational True Story 2 Hearts (Giveaway now closed)

Want to win some money?

Leave me a comment on this video and I will pick one person to win $20 (USD) via paypayl or Venmo to celebrate the release of 2 Hearts. Giveaway closes Midnight 22nd October (MST)


Review: Because of You by Dawn French

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.
Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.
Anna leaves with empty arms.
Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.
The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.
Perhaps beyond . . .

Review: It has been a long time since a book has left me this emotionally drained. I loved every minute of this, I just could not put it down and I was left so emotional by the end of it. This is one of those books where you find yourself holding your breath without even realising you're doing it and just getting so behind these characters because you are so invested in their lives. 

I love the fact that this book surrounds two women from very different walks of life linked by the fact that they are giving birth on the eve of the new millennium in the same hospital. I loved Hopes fiery spirit and her determination to be happy in life. I loved the fact that she didn't care about material possessions, to her family and happiness were really at the heart of her reason for being and I just admired her passion so much. 

Anna is also very passionate but in a very contained way. Her life is almost the opposite of the way Hope aims to live. She is married to someone in a position of powers and so as she is giving birth she does have the possessions and the status but she doesn't have that deep rooted love with her husband. She has that strength that Hope does though, she just needed the events of this book in order to find it. I just fell in love with the women in this book. I loved how fiercely they lived and they were so well written I could imagine meeting them in real life and falling in love with them all over again. 

This book does come with care warnings for baby loss and also to keep tissues nearby because it is an emotional rollercoaster and you will find yourself finding joy in things you never thought possible.. There are a few villains in this story and I did spend my time hating on the characters in particular but I love when an author writes someone that I can feel passionately about so I have no problems with that. 

This is one of those books that you can't talk about this plot without giving away spoilers so I just urge you to read this one. It is brilliantly written so you find joy in the prose and just have to keep on reading reading reading because of the way it was structured. I am envious of those of you who will get to read this book for the first time because you are about to embark on a wonderful journey. This is definitely a new favourite for me-highly recommend!

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

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Blog Tour: Extract From Christmas With The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest @ElaineEverest #TeashopGirlsChristmas @ed_pr


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Christmas With The Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest. I have an extract to share with you today but don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclsive content and reviews. Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 as paperback original. You can click here to order your copy now!

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

The friends return in a moving story of love, bravery and hope set in 1940 – a guaranteed winter warmer full of festive spirit. 

Bestseller Elaine Everest is the author of the muchloved Woolworths Girls saga series. 

It’s late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy. 

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancĂ© Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother? 

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .


Here's that extract for you...

‘Oh Miss Neville, I’m that thrilled for you,’ the young Nippy exclaimed as Rose walked into the staffroom of the Lyons teashop she managed in Margate. ‘Fancy being engaged to an army captain! Show us your engagement ring?’

Rose smiled at the girl standing in front of her. ‘Thank you, Edie. I’m afraid I don’t have the ring yet – my fiancĂ© is having it altered. His grandmother’s fingers were larger than mine,’ she explained as she looked down at the slim fingers of her left hand, thinking back to the moment Ben had slipped the ring on after formally proposing.

‘You mean it’s second-hand, Miss? I’d have thought a posh bloke like him could have afforded to buy you something new,’ Edie said, giving her a pitying look. ‘When my sister got engaged to her chap, she had a new ring, and he’s only a corporal.’

‘You are a silly child,’ a familiar voice said from behind Rose. ‘Do you not know that Captain Benjamin is a man who comes from the landed gentry of England? What our Miss Neville is to be wearing on her finger will be an ancient heirloom,’ Anya Polinski reprimanded the girl. ‘Show some respect to our manageress,’ she added with a dismissive sniff, looking down her nose at the younger woman – something that was easily done, since Anya stood a head taller than most of the staff in the teashop.

The younger staff members were unsure of their Polish colleague, who always carried an air of authority even though she was just like them, albeit a ‘Sally’ who looked after the front counter of the Lyons teashop, where she served customers with all manner of goods. The older staff found her helpful and knowledgeable, although they too were in awe of the woman who’d left her homeland and come all the way to Thanet in search of her pilot husband, Henio. When the couple had been reunited, more than one Nippy had been heard to sigh at the romance of it, remarking that Anya’s life was straight out of an edition of The People’s Friend.

Rose clapped her hands together to gain the attention of the other Nippies and Sallys. ‘Ladies, we have but fifteen minutes before the doors open to our customers,’ she said with a smile, before taking a look at the notes in her hand. ‘I would like to inspect your uniforms first, and then I will give you some news about a few staff changes that will affect our work here at the Margate teashop while I’m away in London. I trust you all to carry on your hard work while I’m absent.’

This was met with excited chatter and nods of agreement before a hush fell as Rose walked along the line of Nippies, checking their black uniform dresses, white cuffs and collars were clean. ‘Annie, your hem is coming down. You will find thread and needles in the drawer,’ she instructed a newer Nippy, nodding towards the large table where the staff sat while taking breaks for their meals. ‘There is also red thread, for any of you who have loose pearl buttons,’ she added as many of the women ran their hands down the fronts of their dresses, where two neat rows of white pearl buttons ran from their collars to the waistbands of their crisp white aprons.

‘Please, Miss Neville, I have a ladder in my stocking. If there is time, may I change it? I didn’t notice until I was on my way to work,’ an older Nippy asked. ‘Most certainly you may.’ Rose smiled, pleased that her team took such pride in their appearance. She’d not found one dirty fingernail, and each worker had clean, shiny hair underneath the white starched caps bearing the Lyons badge.

About The Author



Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women's magazine market. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry. You can find out more about Elaine on Twitter @ElaineEverest or Facebook /elaine.everest