Tuesday 30 November 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Bookish Memories 30/11/21


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.

Ooo this is a fun list I love bookish memories and definitely have experiences tied to books and bookish events. 

1. My first blogger event at Simon and Schuster Books and the City

2. My first visit to Strand Books: http://www.fabulousbookfiend.com/2016/11/bookshop-love-in-us-so-far.html

3. Meeting Jackie Collins: http://www.fabulousbookfiend.com/2015/09/literati-with-jackie-collins.html

4. First visit to BookCon

5. Seeing my name in/on a book for the first time!

6. Reading my first Judy Blume novel and then everything else she wrote that same summer!

7. Discovering Wonder and then sharing it with multiuple students over many many years!

8. Lindsey Kelk's first novel coming along at the time I needed it most, I still feel like she writes specifically for me!

9. Reading an entire novel in a starbucks, such a good day!

10. Discovering Caitlin Moran and reading this entire book on a return train journey. Looking at my life differently and discovering just what a feminist I am!

Thursday 25 November 2021

Guest Review: Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea by Cressida McLaughlin

Can she spread Christmas cheer in Cornwall this year?

All Meredith Verren has ever wanted is to escape the holiday season without having to wear a Christmas jumper. Her new job at the cosy gift shop in a picturesque Cornish tourist spot is making it impossible for her to maintain her scrooge-like manner.

With their seasonal hampers on everyone’s wish list, Meredith must paste on a smile and fake some holiday cheer. Then she meets handsome new arrival, Finn, who wishes it could be Christmas every day and wants her to feel the same way too.

Can she embrace the holly and the ivy before the decorations are packed away for another year?

Review: This is the fifth book in the Cornish Cream Tea Bus series from this author. As with all the books in this series, this one is set in a lovely little Cornish seaside town, but this time in Port Karadow rather than the usual Porthgolow. As well as having a new setting, this story has mainly all new characters, except that the Cornish Cream Tea Bus and its owner do make a brief appearance. This book has a glorious cover that combines a Christmas feel with the beauty of the seaside location described in its pages.

The story centres on Meredith, who, following a tragedy ten years previously, tries to avoid Christmas and its festivities as much as possible. This year finds her working for a gift company in Port Karadow that sells a range of Cornish-themed items, including hampers that can be tailored to any occasion, including, of course, Christmas. With her job including designing new products that will help promote the company, ignoring Christmas is more difficult than usual. On her daily swim one morning, Meredith bumps into Finn, a stranger who seems interested in the usually deserted cove she knows so well. As they gradually get to know each other, will Finn be able to break through Meredith’s resistance and instil her with some Christmas cheer?

I have followed this series of books from the start, and really enjoyed this new addition. It truly is a heart-warming festive romance. Even though I have loved getting to know the setting and people in the series so far, I was charmed by the new setting and characters in this book. Meredith and Finn are both complex and interesting players, each taking the time to save the other. There are, of course, many supporting characters as well, all likeable with lots going on in their own lives. The main story line concerning Meredith and Finn is accompanied by interconnecting subplots, one of the main ones which I loved concerning the town’s Christmas pageant - enough to make even Scrooge feel Christmassy. I would always recommend this series of books as a whole, but this particular one would be a welcome addition to anyone’s Christmas stocking.

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

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Book vs Movie: How Does Passing The Movie on Netflix Compare to The Audiobook by Nella Larsen?


Cover Reveal: We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This by Donna Y. Ferris @minidva @KellyALacey @lovebookstours @igbooktours #LoveBooksTours

I've got an exciting cover reveal for you today. We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This by Donna Y. Ferris. The book will be coming your way very soon and I am very excited to share the cover with you but first, here's what it's all about...

What if the path to inner peace leads to outright disaster? 

Donna has it all - a generous husband, two healthy kids, a Jersey shore home - but believes something is missing. When she signs up for yoga teacher training, her carefully cultivated life begins to crumble. Her husband is having an affair. Dangerous childhood secrets resurface. Her mother dies suddenly. And she doesn’t even like yoga . . . yet. 

As Donna reels and heals, she discovers love, rescues dogs, and confronts yet another crisis of faith

when her new fiancĂ© falls ill. 

A devastating but funny, life-affirming love story, We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This is for anyone who has ever dared to fight for what matters - and believes it’s never too late to find love or enlightenment.

But not necessarily in that order.

Are you ready for that cover?

Author Bio

Donna Y. Ferris lives in West Chester, PA with her husband and dogs - and spends as much time as possible with her two Musketeers in Pittsburgh (the home of her beloved Steelers). We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This – A Memoir of Missed Connections is her first book. Donna continues to work in corporate America and has contributed over thirty articles to Elephant Journal.  She also teaches yoga weekly, workshops quarterly, and leads Spring / Fall retreats in Duck, NC. Donna can be reached via email (donnayferris@minichangeyoga.com) or on Facebook and Instagram (@downdogdiva) and Twitter (@minidva).

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I'd Love Updates On


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.

Ooo this is such a great topic, there are so many characters I would love to hear more from and I often put at the end of my reviews that I would love a sequel/update with where they are now. This list is not definitive and just assume that each book, I want to know where the main characters are now unless otherwise stated. 

Sunday 21 November 2021

Movie Review: Petite Maman. Why Did I Walk Out of This Movie?


Guest Review: The Skeleton Road By Val McDermid

When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen's investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge -- but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .

An atmospheric, chilling mystery from the number one bestseller.

Review: This is the third book in the Karen Pirie crime thriller series by the author, but it can be read as a standalone. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Karen Pirie is head of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit based in Edinburgh. The story begins in 2014 when a human skeleton is discovered hidden on the roof of a derelict building in Edinburgh. Given the age of the remains, and the suspicious circumstances, Karen Pirie and her assistant, Detective Constable (DC) Jason Murray, are called in to investigate. There is a second strand to the book that relates to the aftermath of the conflicts in the Balkans during the 1990s following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Two officials from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are attempting to find out who is systematically assassinating suspected war criminals from the region before they can be brought to justice.

The book is set mainly in Scotland, Oxford and Croatia. I found the story to be fast-paced, with several twists. It was also interesting to hear about the history of the different republics of the former Yugoslavia as they sought independence as separate countries in their own right. Val McDermid is very good at describing locations, and having visited some of those mentioned in the book myself, I could feel that I was actually present. I like the down to earth character of DCI Pirie and admire the determined manner in which she pursues her investigations. I should add a care warning that there is a lot of strong language in the book and some descriptions of graphic violence. I listened to the audiobook version and enjoyed the varied accents employed by the narrator, although she struggled with some of the more esoteric ones.

I enjoyed listening to this thrilling story as the detectives pursued their investigations doggedly, building up to the climax. It should appeal to anyone interested in crime fiction, and is another excellent addition to the Karen Pirie series.

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

Thursday 18 November 2021

Review: Walking on Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher

After Mike loses Pia, his partner of seventeen years, their best friends Vicky and Zaza try to help pick up the pieces.

But though Pia's gone, she left a plan. A list of loving instructions to help Mike and her friends come to terms with their loss.

And they're each going to need it . . .

Just-engaged Zaza fears committing any further.
Exhausted mother and wife Vicky has lost sight of herself.
While Mike just feels all the colour has gone from his life.

When the list sends them trekking to Peru, where high mountains and sweltering rainforests push them to the brink, all they have to guide them is their faith in Pia and in themselves.

But will they learn that anything is possible when you're walking on sunshine?

Review: I really loved the idea behind this one, the premise of three friends going off on an exciting adventure together is definitely something that draws me to a book and I loved the trip when our three friends finally got there, however I just felt like it took so long to get there that we didn't have a great deal of time to explored grow and learn with them. I did enjoy getting to know Vicky, Zaza and Mike but I felt like I got to know their home lives and personal lives more when they were at home as opposed to together on their trips. 

Mike is a great character and I really liked that we had a male protagonist in a romcom. We get chapters from each of their perspectives and Mike's chapters were great to read, being a bit of a break from the norm of only getting to hear the female's perspective in this kind of book. Zaza is a complex character, she has lived her life a certain way up until this point and is having trouble changing that. At points I did find her difficult to like but I did understand her motivations behind her actions and behind her selfishness occasionally. 

I feel like I got to know Vicky the best and really feel like we got most insight into her life pre and post babies as well as pre and post friend Pia. Her part of the audiobook is narrated by the author and so perhaps that's why I felt like I got to know her the best, because she was narrated the exact way she was written but I just think she is the most well-rounded of the three characters that we hear narration from. 

The audiobook as a whole wasn't the best I've listened to. Vicky's chapters and Mike's chapters were a lot quieter than Zaza's chapters and so I had to keep adjusting my volume as I was listening which isn't ideal when you're in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic on the M1! I did love that Vicky's chapters were narrated by the author though, I think that this was a great choice and really brought the book to life. I also like that we had three different narrators for the characters, that's always helpful when an audiobook features multiple narratives!

Once we got to Peru I feel like our journey was quite truncated and the characters didn't get the chance to grow like they could have. I loved the reasons behind their need for growth. Despite the fact that loosing a friend/partner is a sad way to begin a story, I thought it made for a great jumping off point for our three characters and I like their motivation for change throughout the book. Overall this was definitely a mixed bag for me and I don't think it was just the audiobook narration that let it down but the pacing overall that just fell short. It was a great premise and Vicky was a wonderful character but you'll have to decide for yourself whether you want to read it or not. 

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

Wednesday 17 November 2021

November 2021 Mid-Month Reading Check In-How Many Nonfiction & Netgalley Books Have I Read?


Guest Review: Christmas by the Coast by Mandy Baggot

After a terrible heartbreak, Harriet Cookson worked hard to build her life back up. Now she has a dependable boyfriend, a great job and a decent flatshare. But when her beloved grandmother passes away, Harriet drops everything to fly out to the Hamptons to comfort her grieving grandpa.

Christmas is coming and as she arrives on the sandy beaches of her childhood in Montauk, Long Island, Harriet spots someone she never expected to see again – her 'one that got away', ex-soldier Mack Wyatt. Now, Mack is determined to win Harriet back and show her that the life she's been living might be the wrong happily-ever-after.

Review: I can’t believe that, although Mandy Baggot has written a number of Christmas titles, this is the first one that I have read. Being a lover of all things Christmas, I was instantly attracted to this title and was also excited to find out that I was to be treated to a trip to Long Island within the pages of the book. Once I started reading this book, I was instantly hooked and found it difficult to put it down until the very end.

The story revolves around Harriet Cookson (known as Joanna by her family). She is living in Bournemouth, where she is in business with boyfriend Iain. When her beloved grandmother dies suddenly, Harriet returns to Montauk, Long Island, where her grandparents own a tiki bar and she spent so many happy summers as a child. Planning to stay for the funeral and to make sure that her grandfather is OK, Harriet is shocked to find Mack Wyatt, an ex-soldier who she once thought she would spend her life with, living in the village and friendly with her grandparents. With Christmas fast approaching, Harriet tries to follow the traditional activities enjoyed by the local residents and outlined in a series of letters her grandmother has left for her. Meanwhile, Mack is thinking back to the letters she and Harriet exchanged when he was serving and struggles with the idea that he might win her affections back.

I thought this was a powerful and moving story, with just the right amount of humour thrown in. I loved the concept of the two characters brought together by chance after such a long period apart and the misunderstanding that forced their separation being explained. Harriet is such a strong young woman and by no means a pushover; she is certainly not going to make things easy for either man in her life. Mack was a really likeable character that I was cheering on all the way along, but Iain was probably my least favourite. There are many other interesting players in the story, along with a couple of intriguing animals. Letters play a big part in this story; how clever to have Harriet’s grandmother speaking to her from beyond the grave through the letters she left behind. I can definitely recommend this festive book. As well as a love story that will keep you guessing, the reader is treated to a wonderful escape to The Hamptons, complete with cocktails and delicious food.

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

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read if You Love Hallmark Christmas Movies 16/11/21


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.

I love a Christmas movie and I love a Christmas book but some Christmas books are more like those Hallmark movies than others, here's a list of my recommendations. 

Friday 12 November 2021

Review: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson

Claudia is thirty and fearing her romance with long-term love Seth has lost its spark. Determined to rediscover the magic they once had, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life - and Christmas - alone.

But being alone doesn't mean she has to be miserable. Familiarising herself with long-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised sexy underwear, Claudia decides to fill up her Christmas with dates. And with best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia feels ready to face anything life can throw at her. One thing's for sure, this year Christmas is going to be very different . . .

Review: This is an impressive debut which explores a world I didn't know very much about-the world of the professional ballet dancer. I loved being in London at Christmas time and the premise behind this book of 12 dates of Christmas is just inspired, this has all the key ingredients of a unique festive romance. 

It was great to get to meet Claudia, even if she is a little clueless with her love life. I feel like I could relate to her from when I was her age. What I loved most about Claudia was the fact that she really championed herself. She has self-respect and really tries her best to lead with that self-respect even though it isn't easy. Best friends Nick and Penny really do help Claudia in this department and it was wonderful seeing that grow over the course of the novel. 

I loved getting to meet Nick and Penny and I really enjoyed the relationship that these 3 friends had. I think that the London setting really helped to cement their bond because you don't always have family nearby so you have to make your own. Despite the fact that we also get to meet their families their bond was still as strong as family. 

Let's talk romance. I loved the main 'will they/won't they?' of this storyline. It was wonderfully frustrating. Then add in all the individual dates, each of them more festive than the last. I particularly loved the Starbucks date but then I am wholly biased there as that is always my date spot of choice. 

I listened to the audiobook of this novel. In terms of the narration, the tone wasn't great but it really didn't take away from the story overall and so I did really enjoy reading this. The level of festiveness is spot on and it really filled that gap between Halloween and Thanksgiving with the festive mood. 

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

Thursday 11 November 2021

Book Review: On A Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk (With Bonus Signing Footage!)


Review: The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

 The Talbots are having one last party at their family home.

But Effie hasn't been invited . . .

Effie's still not over her parents splitting up a year ago. Her dad and his new girlfriend are posting their PDAs all over Instagram (complete with super-gross hashtags #viagraworks and #sexinyoursixties) and as if that wasn't bad enough, they're now selling the beloved family home. So when Effie receives a last-minute anti-invitation to their 'house-cooling' party, she decides to give it a miss.

Then she remembers her precious Russian dolls, safely tucked away up a chimney. She'll have to go back for them - but not as a guest. She'll just creep in, grab the dolls and make a swift exit. No one will know she was ever there.

But Effie can't find the dolls. And as she secretly clambers around dusty attics, hides under tables and tries to avoid bumping into her ex-boyfriend (who she's very much not over), she discovers unexpected truths about her family - and even about herself.

With time (and hiding places) running out, Effie starts to wonder if the only way to find out what's really going on with her family is to simply crash the party . . .

Expect shocking secrets, hilarious mix-ups and an unforgettable romance!

Review: This felt like a classic Sophie Kinsella novel to me. I felt the kind of quirky sense of humour used for Becky Bloomwood in the Shopaholic series when I met Effie. She is very much troubled by her parents split and the selling of the family home and she exhibits that is possibly not the most mature of ways. I really felt for her but I wish she had made better choices. He character flaws make for excellent reading though and some seriously hilarious moments and I was still rooting for her all the way. 

It's the characters in this book that really make the story what it is and so if you love a character driven novel then you'll enjoy Kinsella's latest. The cast is just so whacky and each of them perfectly flawed for maximum impact on the plot. I will say that in the audiobook their names seem rush and so I did have to look up a couple of them but on the whole the audiobook was well-narrated. Effie's Dad seems a little clueless and his new partner is really difficult of warm too. Effie's Mum on the other hand is not seen on the page very often. Effie holds her on a pedestal but perhaps she isn't entirely blameless in the situation. 

Effie's brother and sister both have fully formed story arcs of their own and and I enjoyed the part they played in Effie's story too. They both have some issues that need to be worked through and it was wonderful seeing how Effie get herself involved in their lives despite not really 'being' at the party! Running into your ex is never fun but the scenes with Effie and her ex were indeed fun to read. I enjoyed their banter bak and forth and thought that their relationship to one another was written very well. 

This book made me cringe and made me laugh. I like the fact that it was so character driven but would recommend avoiding the audiobook so that you can better keep track of all the characters and exactly how they know the other characters at the party. 

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

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Guest Review: A Special Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

This Christmas everything is about to change…

When Bo Grayson and her friends meet a mysterious fortune teller, she gives each woman the same prediction: You will meet the love of your life by Christmas Day.

But Bo quickly dismisses this as nonsense. And with the festive season in full swing, she has plenty to keep her busy: creating the seasonal menu for her Boatyard CafĂ©, getting her rock and roll dance group ready for their Christmas show – and avoiding thinking about last December, when her fortune took a turn for the worse…

Besides, she definitely isn’t ready to open her heart again. But will fate – and perhaps a sprinkle of Christmas magic – change her mind?

Review: I have been looking forward to reading this year’s Christmas book from Phillipa Ashley, one of my favourite writers who never fails to entertain me with her novels. This story is set in the coastal Cornish village of Falford, also the setting for Phillipa’s earlier book this year, An Endless Cornish Summer. Readers of that book will recognise some familiar characters, but most of the players in this festive story are new. 

The central female character in this story is Bo Grayson, who owns and runs the Boatyard Cafe, a waterside eatery popular with locals and tourists alike. Having had an unpleasant episode with her then boyfriend last Christmas, she is not looking forward to the festive season this year. However, she enjoys dancing with the local rock and roll dance group, the Flingers, and is very much involved with preparations for their forthcoming Christmas show. A relative newcomer to the village and music enthusiast, Ran Larsen, helps out as DJ for the dancers. When Bo, Ran and Angel, another member of the dance group and special friend of Bo’s, visit the Falford summer fair, they each have their fortunes told by a mysterious woman who foretells the same future for each of them - that they will be with the love of their life by Christmas. They are all sceptical but keep what she has said in mind. With Christmas fast approaching, Bo has plenty to keep her busy, and, not wanting a repeat of last year’s disaster, has no intention of becoming romantically involved with anybody. However, she is becoming closer to the enigmatic Ran, and there is always that prediction from the fortune teller….

I can happily recommend this light and heartwarming festive story, full of interesting and varied characters, with the promise of romance all the way through. It’s perfect for lovers of romance, dance or vintage music and fashion. The reader is treated to two Christmases that promise to be very different for Bo, the interval between being filled with rock and roll music and dancing. With Angel being a skilful dressmaker, there are some stunning costumes mentioned as we follow the fortunes of the dance group. She also makes some amazing craft items which would fit well into many homes. Of course, I should also mention the delicious sounding food produced by Bo at the Boatyard Cafe; I would undoubtedly enjoy sitting by the water being served some of her mouth-watering dishes. Bo and Ran are similar in many ways, each with their reasons for staying away from romance, but it may be that love can find its way in unexpectedly. I loved that way in which these two gradually became closer in a very gentle way. I liked Angel as a character. She had such a lot of stress in her life, but soldiered on regardless and found the strength to follow her dreams. I’m sure that others will enjoy this skilfully written story just as much as I have. The author kept me guessing practically right to the end how things were going to work out - a mark of a good story in my opinion. 

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

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Bonus Movie Review: How Did Marvel's Eternals Compare With the Rest of The MCU?


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Want With Me On a Deserted Island 9/11/21


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.

I missed this topic when it popped up earlier on in the year so I'm doing it today. I think I would want a mix of genres and types of books with me and so these are going to be some of my 'go to' comfort reads...