Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Top Ten Books of 2015

Hi there

I can't believe we are saying goodbye (and good riddance) to 2015 already. Time flies eh......Hope it has been a good year to you, and that 2016 is a great year for you.

I have been lucky enough to read some fantastic books this year. It has been hard to narrow it down to just ten books. But here are my favourite reads of the year.

I would love to hear what you have enjoyed, and what books you would recommend I add to my list.

We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

My review of We Are All Made of Stars

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

My review of Every Time A Bell Rings

The Lie by C.L.Taylor

My Review of The Lie

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson

My review of The Day We Disappeared

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

My review of Christmas at Lilac Cottage

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

My review of Silent Scream

Recipes for Melissa by Teresa Driscoll

My review of Recipes for Melissa

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

My review of Hidden

The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy by Rebecca Raisin

My review of The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My review of The Girl on the Train

Monday, 28 December 2015

Jessica's Christmas Kiss by Alison May

Out Now
Published by Choc Lit
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Real Christmas miracles only ever happen in the movies – don’t they?

When Jessica was fifteen, she shared the perfect kiss with a mystery boy at a Christmas party. It might have only lasted a moment, and the boy might have disappeared shortly afterwards but, to Jessica, it was just a little bit magic.

Fourteen years later, and Jessica is faced with a less than magical Christmas after uncovering her husband’s secret affair. And, whilst she wouldn’t admit it, she sometimes finds herself thinking about that perfect Christmas kiss, back when her life still seemed full of hope and possibility.

But she never would have guessed that the boy she kissed in the kitchen all those years ago might still think about her too

My review:

Jessica's Christmas Kiss is a fabulous festive read. It is a good old love story, with the classic will they, won't they scenario. At just under 150 pages it is perfect for snuggling down and escaping from the real world for a little while.

Jessica was a teenage girl when she shared her first kiss with a boy at a Christmas party, he then disappears and is never heard of again. Fast forward through the years and Jessica is a married woman who occasionally reminisces about the kiss but is in love with her husband.

Jessica has suspected an affair for a while but her fears are finally confirmed when she hears him on the phone on Christmas Day. This starts a chain of events which sees the marriage break down and Jessica having to cope with adjusting to her husband leaving her for another woman. But what she wasn't expecting was to be reunited with the boy she kissed all those years ago.

Will things turn out differently now? Ahh I can't possibly say and give away the rest of the story. You will just have to read and find out for yourself!

Ok, so the storyline might sound a bit far fetched, but indulge in allowing your mind to wander into fantasy and I really enjoyed it. Let's be honest, how many of us occasionally cast our minds back and wonder 'what if?'

Jessica is a lovely character and my heart went out to her when she found out about the affair. However Jessica isn't one to roll over and hide, she is feisty and I really enjoyed reading her story. She doesn't know for quite some time that she has stumbled across the boy from her teenage years and I really wanted to jump in and intervene.

If you like to indulge in lighthearted, enjoyable reads with some romance and suspense this could well be one to add to your reading list.

Thank you to Choc Lit who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Out now
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …

Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in British crime fiction.

Watch out for more from D.I. Kim Stone

My Review:

I can't believe I have left it so long to read this book! I love a good crime thriller to get lost in, and this fits the bill perfectly. Tense, compelling and with loads of drama it had me engrossed from start to finish.

Silent Scream introduces us to DI Kim Stone and her team who are called to the murder scene of a local woman. But before long the murder investigation grows as human remains are found buried at a former children's home, and other bodies begin to appear. It is down to Kim and her team to try and prove the link between the deaths, and unearth who the killer is.

This is an excellent start to a new series of books featuring Kim Stone. Angela Marsons has created a character that is a caring and dedicated detective, but also tough, and definitely multi dimensional. She is passionate about the job she does, and her passion can at times push her to the boundaries of what she meant to be doing. I loved her defiant streak which could easily have gotten her into trouble, but she has a strong instinct and will follow it at all costs.

But as well as following the investigation from Kim and her teams perspective we also get glimpses into what is happening for the murderer in the chapters written through their eyes. I like to play detective and try to be one step ahead and solve it before the perpetrator is revealed. I thought I had it sussed but I was wrong...totally wrong! But I liked seeing the case from a different perspective, as it gave more depth and insight into their motivation.

I was reading this week that Angela had been submitting manuscripts and getting rejections from publishers for many years. I cannot understand why as her writing is fantastic. She has a real talent for developing strong, interesting characters, and writing a novel that drew me in from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. I am so pleased that Bookouture have signed her and bought her work for us to read.

Silent Scream is perfect for fans of crime fiction. I would highly recommend it as a gritty, engrossing read.

Thank you to Bookouture who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Out now
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down.

My review:

Hooray! Holly Martin has a new book out....perfect! I always love Holly's books and get very excited when I hear of a new book being published. Christmas at Lilac Cottage was just as good as I was hoping it would be, and I was lost in the world of White Cliff Bay until the very end when I reluctantly had to leave.

The wonderful Penny owns a cottage and lives alone. She has decided to rent out part of the cottage and the new tenants are due to move in. Up rocks Henry who piques Penny's attention very quickly, but who is this Daisy who is also moving in? Penny initially assumes that Daisy must be Henry's other half and that he is therefore off limits. But she is soon pleasantly surprised to discover that Daisy is infact his teenage daughter.

Penny and Daisy strike up a good friendship and it isn't long before Penny gets Daisy involved in her job as an ice sculptor. Daisy loves this and they spend more time together getting to know one another and helping Daisy settle in. However Daisy makes it very clear that she wouldn't accept Penny and Henry dating. Drat!

Henry is more of a closed book and whilst he is obviously also attracted to Penny he is less likely to act on this. Whilst I loved Penny and Daisy I didn't take as easily to Henry. He was certainly more guarded and emotionally closed off, and I loved Penny so didn't want her to pursue him or fall for him and get her heart broken. His behaviour at times wound me up. That said, I love Henry as a father. Ok, he is a little overbearing and protective, so as a teenager I would be a bit frustrated. But it is clear that he adores his daughter and will do anything to ensure her happiness. Who doesn't love a man who is a great father?

Penny was my favourite character. She is a strong woman, independent, a great friend, a hard worker and a caring person who seems to be at the centre of her local community. However there is a vulnerability and loneliness about her. She has a bit of a sad back story which impacts on her during this novel. It really did fill me with sympathy for her and a strong desire for her to be happy and content. I was willing her to come to a happy ending throughout.

I love the way Holly puts her books together. She is very clever at scene setting and character development. She seems to make them very believable and by using great descriptions I find it easy to bring her characters off the page and to life. I can imagine living in a cottage at White Cliff Bay and being very settled and happy there, which means I was totally engrossed and transported into their world very quickly.

I believe there is also a second book called Snowflakes at Silver Cove which also features White Cliff Bay. I will be downloading and reading this over the Christmas period.

I am so pleased to have been able to read such an engrossing, enjoyable, touching story and I am very much looking forward to reading more of Holly's work.

Thank you to Bookouture who kindly provided a copy of this book in return for a honest review,

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Cravings by Emma Hamilton

Out Now
Published by Bastei Entertainment
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

How could everything that seemed so right suddenly have gone so wrong for Mia? Snow is on the ground and Christmas lights twinkle in the German Christmas market. The warm, spiced wine is just right, but there's still one key ingredient missing from her romantic dream. Will Mia's Christmas turn out to be sugar and spice and all things nice - or a deflated soufflé of loneliness and regret?

Christmas Cravings is a festive romance standalone episode from the Greedily Yours series.

My review:

Christmas Cravings is a novella in the Greedily Yours series. I haven't read any of the other stories in the series so I wasn't sure if I would be able to follow what was happening. But this works well as a standalone short story.

Mia and her best friend we in Germany visiting the Christmas markets, but Mia is miserable as she has had problems with her long distance boyfriend Tom. They fly home and it is down to her best friend and her best friends boyfriend to work together to sort things out between them.

I liked Mia as a character and would be interested I reading more of the stories in the series. Mia is a food blogger and there are some lovely recipes at the end of the novella. I am a food lover and can imagine i would enjoy the other stories and their food talk!

The novella is just 98 pages long and is a very quick read. I found it easy to get into the story and lapped it all up in one sitting. It is a nice bit of escapism during the festive season.

Thanks to Bastei Entertainment who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Lie by C.L.Taylor

Out Now
Published by Avon
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes . . .

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves . . .

Haunting, compelling, this psychological thriller will have you hooked. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Daughter.

My Review:

Wow! I thought I loved Cally Taylor's first book, The Accident. But this was even better! I was hooked from the start and found it very hard to put the book down.

As the book starts we meet Jane who works at the local animal sanctuary, has a boyfriend, and what appears to be an unspectacular, normal run of the mill life. But it's not long before we discover Jane isn't quite what she seems to be....infact she isn't called Jane at all!

Five years ago, Jane (or should I call her by her real name, Emma), travelled to Nepal on holiday with three of her best friends. All we know is that something happened during that holiday that resulted in her returning to the UK and having to start a new life with a new identity. I really don't want to tell you much more than that about the storyline as I fear it may unwittingly spoil it for other readers.

So what can I say about what happens? That's the beauty of the book. It takes is on a journey with chapters alternate between the present day and five years ago. With each of the chapters the story gets darker, and we discover more about the trip and the traumatic events that took place and prompted the life changes.

The author has, in my opinion, created a work of genius. Right from the outset the mystery starts to build and intrigue definitely got the better of me. I was totally captivated. As the storyline develops I started trying to second guess what had happened, but I was wrong! Not only was I trying to guess what had happened five years ago, but the storyline crosses over into the present day, which adds another layer of complexity and guessing.

I love the way the characters were written and developed. I found Jane very likeable and easy to warm to. There is also a lot of tension and sadness around her which moulds her personality. The author has also created some vile, truly horrible characters whom I found it easy to despise. The depth of the characters really made the book for me. Because I found it so easy to like some, and hate others I felt myself pulled even deeper into finding out what happened. And I never managed to guess all the outcomes which is always great and leaves me feeling satisfied that I have read a really good, unpredictable book.

The story has twists and turns as it hurtles towards the end, and the big revelations. The story becomes darker and in parts are quite disturbing, which if I am honest is right up my street!

I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it as a must read.

Thank you to Avon who kindly provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Blog Tour - My Dream Cast for A Miracle at Macy's by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Out Now
Published by HarperImpulse
Purchase from Amazon here

I am delighted to be joined on my blog by Lyun Marie Hulsman, author of A Miracle at Macy's. I dont know about you, but when reading I spend alot of time trying to visualise who the characters resemble. Lynn Marie has shared with us who she dreams would play the characters in her new book if it hit Hollywood!

Have you read A Miracle at Macy's? We'd love to hear who would play your leading characters!

My Dream Cast for A Miracle at Macy’s

I think every author dreams of having her novels turned into Hollywood movies. I’ll freely admit that I do, and want to take this opportunity to shamelessly call attention to the fact that my latest, A Miracle at Macy’s, has everything it would take to be the Next Big Blockbuster Chick Flick: Romance, dogs, New York City, Christmas, fancy hotels, a world-famous department store. And once that happens, it could also go to Broadway, and feature a sweeping orchestral music score, with Santa’s sleigh flown in by Foy a la the helicopter in Miss Saigon. It could happen. If you’re going to dream big, you may as well go all the way, am I right?

As long as I’m dreaming big, allow me to suggest some casting to the director and my future partner in filmmaking. (I hope you’re listening Richard Curtis, or Tina Fey, or Paul Feig, or Lynn Shelton). Believe me, I’ve thought this through carefully and I see no reason why these actors would hesitate to sign on to embody the characters who have been written for them… literally. By me. Really, for them. Pro tip to you directors: Tell them that. I think it’ll seal the deal. And promise them specific-colored M&Ms in their trailers. I’ve heard actors like that.

Without further adieu, here are the people you should get on the horn to, and quick. Apparently top-name actors like to “plan” their “schedules” in “advance.” We don’t want to wind up shooting this thing with a handful of D-listers fresh from tired reality shows, or NYU students whose parents wanted them to go into finance but instead they’re doing a lot of improv guerrilla theater in DUMBO. We need names, people! Surely I’m not the only one here willing to get this off the ground, and give 110%, am I? Good. Because here goes:

In the role of Charlotte Bell: Kristen Wiig 

Kristen Wiig is a kooky as she is sincere. You don’t doubt that she leaves the house with spaghetti sauce on the front of her blouse. She’s not afraid to cry ugly. She’s today’s Meg Ryan, but with an edge. You wouldn’t be surprised to learn she was wearing bathing-suit bottoms as underwear on laundry day. Anyone could imagine her as a relative at Christmas dinner, though you’d be hard-pressed to say if she would be the relative who brought the Zabar’s cheesecake or the lentil-and-buckwheat salad. She’s a pretty mess, and we love her for it. I wish Kristen Wiig were my best friend. Maybe once we get this thing greenlighted, she and I will start hanging out. I can give her insight into Charlotte’s character while we get our nails done, and drink extra-hot Grande Mistos, because she will hate lukewarm coffee as much as I do. Try not to get annoyed when we’re giggling onset while sitting in our matching director’s chairs and you’re trying to shoot a quiet scene. We really can’t help it, because we’re sisters from another mister, and we really “get” each other.

Definitely Kristen Wiig. Can you please, please, please call her now? Like, right now? Because if you don’t, we might end up with that NYU grad student, and I’ll bet she’ll be a diva who’ll want to stay in her trailer so she won’t break character. I hate that. Kristen would never do that.

In the role of Henry Wentworth: Tom Mison

Because Oh Sweet Mother of All That Is Good and Holy would you please look at that photo? Has there ever been a more iconic example of an uptight Englishman whose shell you want to crack than this… gorgeous… specimen. I have to tell you, while I was writing A Miracle at Macy’s, I kept this photo open on my desktop and sometimes I’d jut go into a stupor during which I didn’t blink, and I think my heart rate reduced dramatically like those monks high in the Himalayan mountains who basically live on air and blend in so well with their environment that butterflies would land on them. That’s what this guy does to me.

And have you seen him on Sleepy Hollow? Oh, if he Ichabod-Craned himself into my living room through a fluke of time travel/a hole in the fabric of the universe,  I too would insist that he continue to wear tight high-cut breeches and waistcoats and frilly blouses, and I would never, ever tell him about The Gap or H&M or Banana Republic. Because tight high-cut breeches and waistcoats and frilly blouses. And I’d make him talk all the time. On top of his fussy, plummy English accent (which is catnip to us American girls), the tone of his voice is like warm melted caramel. No, warm salted melted caramel.

Just trust me and call him. Every female, and I suspect a good many males, ages 13 to 90 will buy tickets just to see Tom Mison on screen and listen to him talk in Dolby Surround Sound or whatever is the latest version of that. And get a really, really good tailor. We’re going to costume him from The Macy’s Collection, but you know… tight. And breeches-y.

In the role of Aunt Miranda: Meryl Streep

Because duh.

And in the role of Hudson: A Shelter Dog

I’m not sending a photo, because we’ll know him when we see him.

All dogs are good dogs. That’s a fact. The dog that plays Hudson has to be every dog to everybody. There’s something magic in Hudson that speaks silently to everyone he touches. Our canine start has to embody that. Getting a shelter dog full of heart is the only answer. It’s what The Goodspeed Opera House did when they rescued and trained the mutt who played Sandy in Annie, who was one day away from being put to sleep. That little mixed-breed eventually made it big on Broadway, living to the ripe old age of 16, beloved of millions. How will we know which one? We’ll just know. He’ll make himself known. As it says in bright golden lights on the side of Macy’s every Christmas season: Believe.

And as soon as you make those other calls, call my agent. She wants to talk to you about my Executive Producer credit.

Kiss kiss! Love you to pieces! Talk soon…

Lynn Marie Hulsman Biography

Lynn Marie Hulsman is the bestselling author of three romantic comedies, who also writes cookbooks. She enjoys Nora Ephron movies, pop psychology, terriers, and napping. She is not a fan of people walking three abreast on New York City sidewalks or spiders of any ilk. She does not believe in white chocolate.

Once a stand-up comic, and now a PTA mom and corporate ideation agent, she spends a lot of energy keeping her wise-cracks to herself. 

Find out more about Lynn Marie by following her on Twitter and Facebook, and by visiting her website. She's on Pinterest, but accepts defeat in the face of true crafty types.

Don't be shy about reaching out to say hi -- as a Black Belt Procrastinator, she welcomes the distraction.

Twitter: @LynnMarieSays

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Never Kiss A Man in A Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

Out Now
Published by HarperImpulse
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

You’ve seen Mark Darcy in the reindeer jumper his mother gave him, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s hottest Christmas knit!

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.

But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.

Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?

The next FABULOUS book from Debbie Johnson, author of best-selling Christmas number one, ‘Cold Feet at Christmas’ and the summer hit ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’.

My Review:

Whoever knew a fully grown man in a Christmas jumper could be attractive.....enter Marco and prepare to change your mind! From the moment Maggie sets eyes on Marco she is attracted to him. But never did she expect she would ever even talk to him, let alone get the chance to flirt and admire him more closely! But sometimes fate has a way of intervening, and when they collide in the middle of Oxford which results in him breaking his leg and becoming her unexpected houseguest.

I love Maggie. A young Mum to a teenage daughter she works hard as a wedding dress designer, putting her heart and soul into help create the perfect gown for the brides special day. And that sums her up, caring, warm and a grafter. I found her incredibly easy to like. She hasn't had life easy, and when gorgeous Marco lands in her life I really wanted her to be able to act on her attraction and find a happy ever after.

Marco is a dish! It was easy to build up an image of him that was very pleasant on the imagination! But it only is he gorgeous sounding but he is a real sweetie too. I need someone to clone him and send him in the post to me!

The book is very easy to get engrossed in. This is the second book I have read by Debbie Johnson and have found them both very enjoyable reads. She develops great characters, writes a plot that flows quickly and leaves you feeling that all is good in the world.

This book has a wintry and festive theme to it which is perfect for wrapping up warm with a mug of hot chocolate and escaping into another world for a while. I loved it and would highly recommend this book.

Thank you to HarperImpulse who provided a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter by Kate Winter

Out Now
Published by Little Brown
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Falling in love is never simple. Especially when you're dead.

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world's worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she's actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she's still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn't all it's cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .

In this hilarious, life-affirming and romantic journey through Rosie Potter's afterlife, she shares the ghostly tale of how she lived, she died, and she loved (in that order).

My Review:

I was drawn to The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter by its pretty cover, and by the synopsis. A young woman wakes up one morning all confused before realising she is dead, apparently murdered, and wearing her ugliest pair of pyjamas!

What should, given the storyline, be dark and sad, is in actual fact intriguing and lighthearted.  Rosie is a very funny character, and once the initial shock passes she seems to revel in her ability to turn detective and try to suss out just who killed her. She has her eye on who she believes is the key suspect and she starts to mess with their head in ways that made me laugh.

Whilst she believes initially that no one knows she is loitering around in the afterlife she thinks nothing of playing around, teasing them, shouting at them and some tom foolery.  She gets the shock of her life when it emerges that someone can infact she and hear her. She enlists them to help track down who killed her. This leads to some more funny moments, but also some more emotional times as she ponders love.

Will she find a happy ever after life and find the peace and answers she is seeking? Aha that would be telling! Katie Winter has written a clever book which has a serious plot, and is a who dunnit, but is not written in the traditional serious suspenseful manner. It is punctured by many light moments that raise a smile and draw you into the very likeable Rosie.

I am trying so hard not to give too much away as it really would spoil it for other readers. But this is a fast flowing, easy to read, fun book which is uplifting and very enjoyable to read.

Thank you to Little Brown who provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Uncle Johns Factastic Bathroom Reader by The Bathrom Readers Institute

Published on 16 November 2015
Published by: Printers Row Publishing Group
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Uncle John got a Factastic facelift for the 28th all-new edition of this beloved book series — now with a classy cloth cover on the outside and a sleek style on the inside! All of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader favorites are packed into these 544 glorious pages – from little-known history to the origins of everyday things—plus odd news, weird fads, quirky quotes, mind-bending science, head-scratching blunders, and all sorts of random oddities. Oh yeah, and thousands of incredible facts! Feel smarter (and a bit more dignified) as you settle into:

• Weird Body Parts of the Rich and Famous
• The Wild Man of Borneo
• Cryptic Movie Titles Explained
• "Pathological Generosity" and Other Real Medical Conditions
• How to Perform CPR on Your Dog
• When Postal Workers Go Rogue
• Start Your Own Country!
• Animals Under the Influence
• Welcome to No Mans Land
• The Mad Potter of Biloxi
• Saved From the Trash: The “Lost Leonardo”
• The Ten Longest Wars in History
• Stomach-churning Food-Safety Mistakes
• You Swallowed What?
• Incredible Stories of Survival
• The Case of the Stolen Bridge and Other Weird Crime Reports

And much, much more!

My Review:

I love learning random facts ands so books like this are right up my street. And boy is this one packed with information! It is literally hours worth of reading, much of which will either make you smile, or have you silently exclaiming 'oh wow, I never knew that!'.

The book is marketed as a bathroom reader, and quite hilariously the facts and stories are a mixed bag of short snappy ones, medium length ones, and long stories for ahem, longer visits!

I read this book on kindle and the only criticism I had was that you couldnt choose whether you wanted to jump to the short facts, or indulge in the longer ones, so it was all a bit of a lucky dip as to what came next.

That said, I really enjoyed learning some fascinating new things I can now share with others. My Dad is a big general knowledge person and always zooms to know facts about random things. Last night I was able to get my own back thanks to this book. When watching a programme about The Beatles I was able to tell him how their Sargent Pepper album was the first ever album to feature lyrics printed on it....aha, the tables are starting to turn I can say with a wry smile on my face!

The only other thing I would point out to UK readers is that there is a lot of US based facts and stories. Whilst I found some of them interesting I did also find myself flicking past some that didn't grab my interest.

This is a fun idea which will certainly leave you wiser and entertained,

Thank you to Printers Row Publishing Group who provided a copy in return for an honest review.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Pippas Cornish Dream by Debbie Johnson

Out Now
Published by Harper Impulse
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

‘The perfect summer story – a funny and moving read set in glorious modern-day Poldark country.’ – Bestselling author Jane Costello

Every summer has a story…

Since Pippa Harte was forced to take over her parents’ farm, she’s barely had time to shave her legs let alone make time for a date. Now she’s more likely to be getting down and dirty mucking out the pigs – and avoiding those of the human male variety.

When Ben Retallick walks out of her childhood and back into her present it seems that perhaps Pippa has more time than she thought. All Poldark smoulders and easy-going charm, Ben’s definitely worth whipping her wellies off for!

But Ben is a man with his own past and his own issues – and as much as she’s enjoying having him around, she’s got to get a grip. After all life isn’t always a beach … Then again, this is Cornwall.

Set on the gorgeous Cornish coast at the height of summer, this is the perfect romance to take on your hols!

Debbie is the author of Cold Feet at Christmas, the #1 Christmas bestseller!

My Review:

I found Pippas Cornish Dream very easy to pick up and read, and hard to put down until I had finished it. The story flows right from the start and it was easy to get immersed and lose track of time.

I love Pippa, the main character that the book is set around. She is a quiet unassuming girl, who works hard and is full of love and devotion to her family. After losing her parents she is young and left alone to not only run the farm, but raise her younger siblings which is no easy task for anyone! Yet she manages this brilliantly. I felt instantly sorry for her given all the responsibility she has taken on without a moan or groan. I also felt sorry for her that she had no time to herself to be young, carefree and foolish. But it's quickly apparent that her love for her family means she wouldn't have it any other way.

We also meet Ben who turns up at the farm to rent a room after some hard times of his own, and some time in prison. Pippa and Ben knew eachother when they were children and Ben stayed at the farm one summer. There is an instant attraction between them both and they seem to be good for eachother. Non judgemental and out to introduce some fun into eachothers lives. They are perfect for eachother, but will either of them give in to their feelings?

Pippas Cornish Dream has lots of fun, flirtation and feeling abound. I found myself drawn into their world, laughing and enjoying being a voyeur as they get acquainted. Both Ben and Pippa are brilliantly written characters and I found it very easy to warm to them both. I was willing them on to get over their issues and have a happy ever after ending.

The book is skillfully written. It has a good mix of laughs a well as emotion that made me fly through page after page. Characters and scenes are well developed which helped me to get a visual in my mind of all the family and the settings. The book is quite short at just over 200 pages so the scenes and events move quickly and kept me involved. I very much enjoyed the background and would love to visit Cornwall after reading the book.

I loved this book and would highly recommend this as a read to get lost in.

Thanks to HarperImpulse for a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Blog Tour: Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley

Hi all

I am really excited to be part of Cathy Bramleys blog tour promoting her new book Conditional Love. Cathy is a very talented author whose writing transports you into the world of the characters and immerses you in their story.

My First and Third Book Baby!

How time has flown since I self-published the first edition of CONDITIONAL LOVE back in October 2013. Yet so much has changed since then and my self-publishing journey feels like a life time ago.
When Transworld first took me on to write IVY LANE, I had no idea that I would one day see CONDITIONAL LOVE on the shelves of the major supermarkets and book retailers; I was happy enough to sell it to my local bookshop and the Nottingham branch of Waterstones at the time!

But after a facelift both inside and out, CONDITIONAL LOVE has hit the mainstream retail channels and I couldn’t be prouder. This summer, the Kindle version spent several weeks in the Amazon Top 50 and I’m hoping that my loyal readers of the IVY LANE and APPLEBY FARM paperbacks will find a space in their supermarket baskets for CONDITIONAL LOVE over the coming weeks, too!

I wouldn’t swap my route to being traditionally published for world; I learned so much from launching CONDITIONAL LOVE myself. I even had a little launch party in my local phone box and made colour-coordinated cupcakes!

But I must admit, the book cover biscuits that Biscuiteers have made for my new cover do look more impressive!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Winter's Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Out Now
Published by Carina
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Step into a winter wonderland and fall in love in the snow this Christmas…

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

My Review:

The best thing about the evenings drawing in, and the weather turning miserable is being able to indulge in that guilty pleasure of wrapping up all snuggly with a wonderful book. Winters Fairytale is perfect for doing just this!

Winters Fairytale introduces us to Izzy who owns her own wedding dress business. It's quite ironic that she spends her time making brides weddings dreams come true when her own wedding day ended up with her being jilted by the groom who didn't show up, and punching Rob, the Best Man and deliverer of bad tidings, on the nose. However, Issy is a ballsy woman and has come back strong.

She hasn't seen Rob since the day of her wedding so it is somewhat of a shock when she bumps into him outside her studio one December night just as a snow storm is taking hold. Transport is affected and Izzy can't get home so ends up holed up in Rob's flat for a couple of days until it passes. This means a potentially awkward time for them both given the history.

It's also the run up to Christmas and we get to meet Rob's family including his sister Jenny. Jenny is marrying her fiancé Mike on New Years Day, and as with all weddings there are a few hitches before hand. She and Izzy are my two favourite characters in the book. They are both strong, brace women, but also warm, caring and adventurous. I also have to mention Rob. As leading male characters go I thought he was pretty cool. He acts like a complete idiot in parts but I couldn't help but fall for his kind heart.

The book is brilliantly written by Maxine Morrey, who I believe won the Carina write christmas competition with this story. Fantastic strong characters, along with beautifully descriptive writing enabled me to immerse myself into their world and become a fly on the wall. I love books that transport me to Christmas and make me feel all festive and warm and Winter Fairytales certainly delivered for me.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Thank you to Carina for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

Out now
Published by Little Brown
Purchase from Amazon here

The Blurb:

Everyone who lives at 23 Beulah Grove has a secret. If they didn't, they wouldn't be renting rooms in a dodgy old building for cash--no credit check, no lease. It's the kind of place you end up when you you've run out of other options.

The six residents mostly keep to themselves, but one unbearably hot summer night, a terrible accident pushes them into an uneasy alliance. What they don't know is that one of them is a killer. He's already chosen his next victim, and he'll do anything to protect his secret.

My Review:

I love a good thriller and a bit of a shock so I was really looking forward to reading The Killer Next Door. The book is set in London and revolves around the residents of grubby bedsit. Each room and resident holds its own secrets which as a reader we slowly uncover a the story develops.

Superbly written the mystery unravels slowly as we get to know each of the characters and their deeply held secrets. There is the odious sleazy landlord, the vulnerable young girls, secretive males and the lovely old lady who make up the residents of the run down Victorian house.

Hidden amongst all of this is a gruesome murderer who kills and keeps bodies of women. The scenes involving the murderer have some quite graphic scenes and description. I am a fan of horror and gore so these didn't put me off at all.

This is a tough review to write as I really want to go onto detail and talk about all the twists and turns, but I don't want to spoil it for other readers. So what do I love about this book? Most definitely the best thing is the descriptive writing. Alex Marwood is very skilled at really creating a chilling atmosphere, and building a story to a crescendo. Chapters alternate between the main characters which enables us as a readers to uncover what has bought each of them to live in such squalid conditions.

I liked being kept in the dark and trying to guess who the killer is. The vile acts are interwoven into the book and some of the description is repulsive. But I liked not knowing s it allowed me to try and play detective and guess who it might be.

I had no problem in visualising and putting myself into the story. I live in a street in South London which has lots of Victorian houses which could well have been a similar bedsit. Infact when I am out walking I now wonder what goes on behind some of those closed doors....I let my imagination wander!

Hats off to Alex Marwood for creating a book full of complex characters, set in a dirty decrepit environment. It is gritty, full of twists and turns and will keep you on the edge of your seat, even when some scenes want to make you turn away. Excellently written I can't wait to read more of Alex's work.

Thank you to Little Brown who provided a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Cover Reveal: The Revenge by Holly Martin

Here is the gorgeous cover for The Revenge, the new book by Holly Martin. This is the third book in The Sentinel Series and here’s the blurb so you can see what happens next for Eve and her friends.

He was created to be her back up and now he's out to take her place

After the Oraculum orders Eve’s execution, she has to flee her home in the fort as those that have been guarding over her are forced to turn against her. Amongst the chaos, a new Sentinel is named. Adam, Eve’s half-brother.

Adam has spent his life incarcerated by the Oraculum while Eve was allowed to grow up with a family and friends. Now he is hell bent on revenge. He rules over his Guardians and his new kingdom with arrogance and a cold heart, but his one ambition is to make Eve’s life a living hell. Nowhere is safe from him, not even her dreams.

With the threat from the Putarians moving closer, her own Guardians betraying her, the survival of the world hinges in the balance.

Above all else, Adam must be stopped. But when Eve has a prophecy of her and Adam saving the world together, she quickly realizes she needs to work with him not against him.

But can Eve get through to Adam before it’s too late? Or will Adam’s evil heart result in the destruction of all? 

Praise for The Sentinel (Book 1 in The Sentinel Series)

It’s a book you HAVE to read, because it’s incredible. An outstanding book that has left me bereft its finished. I wished I’d savoured it for longer. This book was one of those that once you started it was impossible to come away from. It was fast paced, exciting, full of suspense and action that had me gasping in shock at twists I never imagined could happen. It’s a story of courage and adventure. And no matter how dark it gets, there’s always love and hope. – Victoria Loves Books Blog

It's really hard to find the words to describe how amazing this book is. 

This is definitely the best debut I've read this year! I just love this book, I want you all to read this book, in fact you all need to read this book! - Love of a Good Book Blog

If you want to pre-order this book so it pops straight onto your kindle on December 1st then pop over here. Its only 99p/99c

And if you haven’t read the first two books in the series yet, then pop over here and get your copy, all three books are 99p/99c at the moment

The Sentinel

The Prophecies

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sunshine and Spaniels by Cressida McLaughlin

Out Now
Published by: Harper Collins, Blue Door
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

Hilarious, touching and fun, Primrose Terrace will appeal to dog lovers everywhere and fans of Lucy Diamond, Cathy Bramley and Trisha Ashley.

Cat Palmer’s dog-walking business, Pooch Promenade is taking off. It hasn’t been plain sailing but with the help of her flatmate Joe, she’s taken on some more new clients from Primrose Terrace. But when she meets boisterous puppy Olaf, who is owned by harassed single mum Frankie, she wonders if she has bitten off more than she can chew! Cat’s also getting to know her sexy neighbour Mark and his Collie, Chips, a little better, but is there more to him than meets the eye?

Perhaps sorting out her best friend Polly’s love life will be easier than her own Sunshine and Spaniels is the second part of a serialized novel told in four parts – all set in Primrose Terrace.

My review:

A welcome return to Primrose Terrace for part two of a four part serialisation. I really enjoyed part one, Wellies and Westies and wasn't let down by this second installment. We meet up with Cat at an event she has organised in the park to promote her dog walking business. The event is quite eventful (and funny!). Whilst in the park she meets two young children out walking their lively and mischievous puppy. When she accompanies them home she discovers that, like Cat, they live on Primrose Terrace and that their Mum, Frankie is a very stressed out single parent.

Cat, along with Polly set out to make life a bit easier and more fun for Frankie. Cat helps out with dog walking and Polly offers to clear out the loft so that she can enter it out to earn some extra money.

As with the first part, the story is told beautifully. My favourite character is Cat. She is a wonderful, warm and funny character. She still has an up in the air kind of relationship going on with her neighbour where he appears to be giving her the run around. Part of me wants to jump in and shake her a bit, but then who knows where it will go from here. I also like her best friend Polly. I would say in real life they would be a formidable duo and I would definitely want to be friends with them.

I am definitely a fan of Cressida's writing style. I find it very easy to follow and get engrossed in. Her writing is descriptive and builds up a clear image of the characters and surroundings. I find this makes it very easy to get to know them and the area, which makes me feel connected to the story and eager to keep turning the pages.

I am not the greatest fan of serialisations, but purely because I am always too eager to find out what happens next. This series is no exception. I am really enjoying it and am very much looking forward to reading what life has in store for them in part three.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Making Friends with Anxiety: colouring in book by Sarah Rayner

Out Now
Published by: The Creative Pumpkin Ltd
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

A heartwarming colouring book packed with tips and insights to encourage mindfulness and help ease worry and panic in the run up to the festive season and beyond. The perfect gift for a loved one or treat for yourself, this is a Special Updated Edition of the bestselling Making Friends with Anxiety: A Calming Colouring Book.

Readers can: • Discover how to ‘make friends with anxiety’ and thereby manage stress • Learn why colouring, in particular, is so therapeutic • Find out about other creative activities that have a similar effect on the psyche, providing an array of solutions to help ease worry over the long term There is also an extra section with advice on how to reduce stress over the holidays offset by nine exclusive Christmas-themed illustrations.

You'll find magical gingerbread houses, plump partridges and animals snuggling by the fire and over two dozen non-Christmassy pictures too. Each illustration incorporates a mantra – a few simple words to help boost your mood. The result is a book to treasure – a unique combination of words of wisdom and pictures filled with childlike joy that will encourage positivity long after the festivities finish and the colouring-in is done.

My review:

I am a massive fan of the Making Friends With Anxiety stuff which Sarah Rayner has bought us. I am a big fan of Sarah's novels, so when I heard she had a non fiction book about anxiety out I was quick to snap up a copy. It's no secret to anyone that I have always been an anxious person, and many years ago suffered a spell of agoraphobia. The book is written in a great way that is easy to understand, jam packed full of tips on how to handle and live with anxiety ass well as reassurance that you are not going mad!

There has been a big trend towards adult colouring in books recently as a form of stress and anxiety relief. Being the big kid i am this really appeals to me. I have trouble filling my days, and boredom often leaves me feeling anxious and inadequate. When I saw that Sarah had a colouring book out I had to get my hands on a copy.

This colouring book is special because not only does it contain lots of beautiful pictures, illustrated by Jules Miller. It also has pages of tips and information about coping with anxiety which is fabulous. I spent lots of time colouring in and not only did the day pass more quickly, but I felt much more relaxed. Reading the tips also helped me enormously. I loved how it is written, in an easy to understand way that clicks. The tips not only come from Sarah, but from a number of other 'real life' anxiety sufferers who really know how it feels, and what can help.

Yesterday I got my hands on this new edition which includes lots of great festive themed pictures which I spent the day colouring in (whilst humming Christmas songs to myself too). It also has loads of reassurance and ideas on coping with for many can be a very stressful time of year. Don't worry about it being too soon though, it's not all festive focused and has lots of other great illustrations and ideas for all year round.

I would highly recommend this colouring in book. It will tap into your inner child, give you some escape from the hustle and bustle of every day stresses, get you in the festive mood, or even escape from it! It would also make a great christmas gift for friends or family. I found it great value for money, much cheaper than many of the colouring books on the market, high quality, excellent pictures and fantastic advice and tips.

Hope you enjoy my colouring in and would love to see yours too.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

Ebook: Out Now
Paperback: To be published on 19th November

Published by HarperImpulse

Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.

My review:

Take the phone off the hook, put on your comfiest pj's, line up some snacks and your favourite tipple, then wrap yourself up all snuggly and get ready to lose yourself in the world of Belle and Jim! I want to shout from the rooftops 'hooray! Carmel is back and her writing is as magical as ever!'.

Every Time A Bell Rings is a truly beautiful story of love, family, loss, overcoming adversity, and never giving up, that will leave you with a warm glow and a sense that happiness and magic. I loved this book and had trouble putting it down as it really did grab me. Yet I am finding it hard to know how to write a review as I don't want to give too much away, and I don't feel that I can do the book justice.

The book introduces us to Belle and Jim who are the main characters. As the synopsis says, Belle and Jim are foster parents (brilliant foster parents). They have been caring for Lauren, a wonderful little girl who has bought lots of happiness into their lives, and are devastated when Lauren is ready to go back to her Mum. But this is only one small part of a magically told story, told in three parts. What we actually get is so much more. The story is told in three parts and we are lucky enough to follow them both through troubled childhoods into adult life,and I totally fell in love with both of them. It is not an easy ride with many bumps along the way. Having created characters that are very realistic and addictive it is easy to get lost in the book and transported to Dublin and their lives.

I could easily sit here and take you through all three parts of the book in detail outlining what I loved about it, but that would spoil the treat for you, and the synopsis of the book already has quite a bit of detail.

Each chapter opens with a quote which I absolutely loved. I am a sucker for a good quote and this book is jam packed full of them, all of which are thought provoking and beautiful. Infact the book as a whole is very thought provoking. It is not a spoiler to mention that Jim is involved in a car crash. This results in a life changing event for Belle which includes an angel and looking at how life could have turned out differently for each of the main characters. I admit to being slightly nervous when this happened as I wasn't quite prepared for it, and was worried that the angel may take the story I was loving into realms of the unbelievable. But I was wrong. What happens actually is some of the most powerful stuff in the book which I found very thought provoking. I am a great dreamer and what if'er, so this resonated with me. What would it be like of life had turned out differently?

I have to mention the characters of Tess and Bobby, both of whom I loved. Tess is the foster mother who gives unconditional love, kindness, encouragement and is a genuinely good person. I found myself hoping that I could offer even half of the qualities she has to my daughter and family. I also adored Bobby, one of Belle and Jims foster children. He was funny, endearing and a character I really wanted a happy ever after for. Looking at how things might have turned out without Belle and Jim had me wanting to jump in to the book and rescue him.

The book bought many smiles to my face throughout. I come from Irish family and spent every summer there as a child, so could relate to the Irish phrases, but even more to the references of tayto crisps and tiffin chocolate bars....I am craving them since! I also loved that my favourite book of all time is mentioned 'The Magic Faraway Tree'.

I have become a massive fan of Carmel since reading her first book Beyond Graces Rainbow. To me she is an incredible writing talent. Her style of writing is warm, evocative, thought provoking and a reminder to live life to the full and love those around you. This book is no exception. Thankyou for writing another book to savour. I can't wait for the next one.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Great Village Show by Alexandra Brown

Out Now
Published by HarperCollins
Purchase from Amazon here

The blurb:

The warm and witty new novel from Alexandra Brown, bestselling author of The Great Christmas Knit Off. Perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Carole Matthews.

Tindledale is in a tizzy . . .

The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.

After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.

As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .

My Review:

I loved the Great Christmas Knit Off which was the first in the Tindledale series and so was very excited to get my hands on The Great Village show, and it didn't let me down.

The book centres around Meg who is the acting headteacher of the village school. She is utterly delightful and I found myself warning to her straight away which absorbed me into the book within a couple of chapters. When the village takes an interest in holding a village show to try and win a place in the national villages of the year Meg throws herself into the task.

Meg has been a single parent for many years, and with her son off at university life has got a bit dull, but the show, along with a mysterious celebrity chef are about to arrive and inject some life and excitement (as well as intrigue) into Meg's life.

Tindledale is a great setting for a book, and The Great Village Show has a fabulous cast of characters that we get to meet. If you have also read the first in the series you will be delighted to hear that we meet up again with the characters such as Sybil who was the main character in The Great Christmas Knit Off. My other favourite character in this book is Jessie who is a newcomer Mum of triplets moving to the village. Her story is a not grittier, and she is a meek and lovely woman.

I love Alexandra Brown's style of writing. She brings the village and characters to life so easily and made it fun for me to connect with them all. Her descriptions feel like they are transporting me into the scenes and into village life which made the book fun to read. I hated the book ending and leaving Meg and the gang behind as I want to move to a village like Tindledale. I can imagine being in the heart of a close community just like Tindledale has created.

This is a book that grasped me and kept me reading for many hours until I sadly reached the end. Yes, it may seem predictable to some and you hope that the outcomes you guess come true, but that doesn't detract from a well written and feel good book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you to Harpercollins who kindly provided a copy of the book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.