Friday, 26 May 2017

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Thrawn (Star Wars)Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power―uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power―and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Anakin Skywalker; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again―even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat, leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral―and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy―and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendency.




Thrawn is a great introduction to one of the Star Wars Universe’s greatest creations, and an excellent re-introduction of a character well-known to many. Timothy Zahn returns as writer to the first canonised novel of the titular Thrawn, that chronicles the rise to power of several very important characters. The novel contains two intersecting story line that link-up several times throughout.

The novel begins with an exiled Thrawn being discovered by the Empire on an Outer Rim world, where he is then taken to meet with the Emperor. Finding the Chiss interesting and learning of his meeting with a trusted ally, the Emperor offers Thrawn a position within the Imperial Navy. To help Thrawn’s understanding of the language and of etiquette within the galaxy, he is provided with and interpreter and aide Ensign Eli Vanto. They spend the next three months on Coruscant graduating from the Imperial Academy, where Thrawn is immediately given the rank of Lieutenant and both are assigned to the ship Blood Crow.

During this time, we meet Arihnda Pryce, the daughter of a mining family on the planet of Lothal. She is persuaded to hand her parents mining business over to the Empire by Senator Renking who offers her a low-level job working for him on Coruscant. Whilst there, Arihnda slowly makes her way up the social scale rubbing shoulders with many Senators and Governors. Thrawn and Eli quickly move up through the various ranks within the Imperial Navy with Thrawn displaying his impressive skill for Military tactics, which in turn lead him to many Imperial victories. Only one enemy eludes him, an enemy known as Nightswan.

Thrawn is a fantastic read for all. It is the perfect way for fans to learn more about the character seen on Star Wars Rebels, whilst also giving the fans that know of Thrawn’s non-canon adventure’s new information about his history and rise within the Empire’s ranks. It perfectly links to the TV series Star Wars Rebels, detailing Thrawn’s movements right up to his entrance on that show. It leaves us wanting more, whilst also leaving us with many questions that need answers!

Four and a half stars, rounded up to 5 for Goodreads and Amazon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding Hood by Jane Clarke

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding HoodSky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma: A Fairytale Mystery Starring Little Red Riding Hood by Jane Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



A Fairytale Mystery starring Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, the Wolf and Sky Private Eye.

Little Red Riding Hood is bereft - Grandma has gone missing! The Big Bad Wolf has left telltale hairs at Granny's house... Has the Big Bad Wolf gobbled her up, or did he follow her on her beach side holiday, waiting to fatten her up?

Sky Private Eye with her bag of detective tricks and Just-in-time cupcake recipes is sure to solve the mystery in no time at all.



This is a completely different take on Little Red Riding hood. Those who know the story well will enjoy this version of the story. It would be key that children have some knowledge of the story before they read this one as this is loosely based on the story but is almost more of a follow on.

I read this story to the whole of Key Stage 1 and Early Years during an assembly. All 300 ish children were engaged and were eager to see what was going to happen next. Although they knew the characters from the original tale, they were completely surprised with this 'adaptation'.

In this story we have a more modern twist to it, Little Red Riding Hood is worried about Grandma, she isn't in her house and she has a feeling the Big Bad Wolf would have got her, she decides to call Skye Private Eye and allow her to investigate where grandma has gone. When she turns up to quickly discovers that Grandma hasn't been eaten but has gone on holiday! Suspecting the worse as they discover clues they go in search for grandma.

Although miles away from the original story, this was enjoyable and the children were intrigued and wanted to find out what was going to happen. A lovely touch at the end of the story was the recipe in case you want to make the cupcakes which are mentioned in the story.

Although this is not going to take over from the original story of Little Red Riding Hood, this is a nice alternative that children enjoy. The illustrations are great and very colourful. I would be interested in reading others in the series to children.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Island of Secrets - Patricia Wilson blog tour with guest post


'The story started at dawn on the fourteenth of September, 1943 . . .'
All her life, London-born Angelika has been intrigued by her mother's secret past. Now planning her wedding, she feels she must visit the remote Crete village her mother grew up in.

Angie's estranged elderly grandmother, Maria, is dying. She welcomes Angie with open arms - it's time to unburden herself, and tell the story she'll otherwise take to her grave.

It's the story of the Nazi occupation of Crete during the Second World War, of horror, of courage and of the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children. And it's the story of bitter secrets that broke a family apart, and of three enchanting women who come together to heal wounds that have damaged two generations.



Patricia Wilson has stopped by today and is sharing her 5 top tips for writing. 



FIVE TIPS FOR WRITING FICTION




1/ Never use five words when three will do.



2/ Join a writer’s circle and embrace criticism.



3/ Work from your synopsis, but don’t be afraid to deviate.



4/ Write the story first, fill in details like the location descriptions later.



5/ Keep notes such as dates/places of birth, name spellings, for all your characters.



6/ Do a thorough check for repeated words.



7/ Use a good editor before submitting to agents.



8/ Don’t turn writing into a chore. Find your most productive time to write.



9/ Don’t be disheartened by rejection slips. Keep working to improve the ms.



10/ Learn the craft. Decide on your genre. Become professional in your writing habits.



11/ Write the first draft of your second manuscript, in the same genre as the first, and work on it as you wait for a positive submission response.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

The HousekeeperThe Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide. And Anne’s own disturbing past soon threatens to unhinge everything...

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.



This started off very slowly in fact so slowly that I almost didn't want to bother to carry on. It only really picked up pace by 69 and the start of chapter 7. I must admit from then on in I only skim read this as it was littered with (in my opinion) unnecessary descriptive passages and not enough action.

The novel is built around the main character Anne Morgan a chef who works in a restaurant owned by her handsome boyfriend Anton. All appears to be wonderful in her world until her boyfriend leaves her for someone else and she ends up becoming a housekeeper for a high profile couple the wife of which Anna has been obsessing about and following her blog for sometime. OK this gets my interest, could she be a bunny boiler, so I plough on.

I have to say at this point I was beginning to think the novel might have picked up a bit but really this lacked enough pace to keep the reader going. The book promised secrets that she learns about the family but really they are so lame especially in today's age that there just wasn't anything to hook the reader. This is not a fast paced thriller or a slow burner that develops into an explosion it was, for me a damp squib.

I couldn't connect with the characters who seemed to be one dimensional lacking warmth or realism. I found the story lack lustre really and although it had a couple of interesting developments (couldn't really call them twists) it just wasn't enough to make me want to continue reading.

Overall it was well written but to bill this novel as a psychological thriller and a page turner is a long way off the mark, it is really a contemporary novel and if it had been billed as such then it could be reviewed as that instead of which to review it as a psychological thriller it can't make the grade. It wastes a lot of time with unnecessary detail and lacks sufficient pace to keep the reader engaged.

It takes a long time, effort and personal pain to write a novel and I am sorry Suellen that my review is not the best but I think it's a case of mistakenly putting this into the wrong genre raising expectations in the first instance and then lacking in substance in the second.

There is no suspense or shocking reveals in this book it is just an average contemporary novel that I would rate as a 3 star.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without a TraceGone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one ever disappears completely...

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn't been at work for weeks.
It's as if he never existed.

But that's not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.



Good start to this novel, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to read more. Imagine coming home one day and finding your live in boyfriend has just disappeared completely leaving nothing behind to ever suggest he was there at all. All personal possessions gone, photographs gone every trace of this person has disappeared surely you'd want to find out more? Well I suppose I'd started to make assumptions before I'd read very far into this novel so I think it's better not to have any preconceived ideas but just to read it. If you do that I think that this is a good psychological thriller because you'll get the full impact of the twist at the end. Because I have read a lot of this genre I did guess where it was going although the twist at the end was cleaver and somewhat unexpected.

I did think that the ending was a bit rushed but it was executed in such a way as to not disjoint the novel so acceptable. I was disappointed in the main character Hannah who I didn't really warm to. I suppose once you understand the twist at the end this does make her 'personality' fall into place but not really warming to the central character does make it a more difficult read. Having said this, the plot, the pace and the overall execution of the novel were well done and I was not bored charging along through the book in two sittings. I think the thing to remember is that we are 'hearing' this through the main characters dialogue and emotions and being obsessed with finding Matt her boyfriend she does become irrational at times which does skew what is real and what is imaginary as she progresses along a path of self destruction.

It was a good twisty psychological thriller and a satisfactory read, I would definitely read more from this author and would give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for goodreads and Amazon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

You're so clumsy Charley by Jane Binion blog tour





You're So Clumsy Charley written by Jane Binion & illustrated by Colin Shelbourn throws us into the wonderful world of Charley —who is dyspraxic— and always seeming to get into trouble by accident. Fed up of school because he feels different from the rest of the children it isn’t until he meets his Auntie Bella that everything changes…

Purchase on Amazon UK | Amazon.com

My review:


As a teacher I thought it was very helpful to have the definitions of different special educational needs at the beginning of the book. I also think this would be useful to parents to identify different difficulties some children have as it helps for understanding.

The story is really easy to follow and understand, the sentences are short but tell Charley's story. I also really liked how the illustrations began black and white and as we went through the story and Charley became more comfortable the colours came out.

This is about one little boy who begins to accept his flaws and others around him also understanding him. It also highlights that no matter whatever your needs are or however 'different' you feel, you can be successful.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.




About Your Stories Matter:
Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk. 


For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books


Monday, 15 May 2017

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

The Last Piece of My HeartThe Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture ... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

Meet Bridget, a successful travel journalist with ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog into a novel. But, after numerous rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition: Nicole Dupre died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel, and the family need someone to finish it. Bridget is just thankful to have her foot in the publishing door. But as she gets to know Nicole’s grieving family, and the woman behind the writing, Bridget’s priorities begin to change.




I love Paige Toon books and I always look forward to that time of year when she will be releasing another one. This was no exception.

This story follows Bridget, a travel journalist, who has written a small amount in the past but wants to make the move tom becoming a full time writer. She is struggling to get anything major published so is writing a relationship blog, when she gets offered the opportunity to ghostwrite for Nicki, who tragically died suddenly after writing her first book and wasn't able to finish the sequel, she is unsure at first (she is not sure this will be the best way of her getting into writing) but with a little encouragement agrees to the job.

Bridget is determined to continue with her blog, to find her ex boyfriends to ask for the piece of her heart back in order for her to commit fully and be able to move on from them. This has taken her over the world so far and she has a few other to visit in the U.K. Being Nicki's ghostwriter takes her to Cornwall and working in the house with the recently widowed Charlie and his young daughter April.

Bridget is still with her partner Elliot that she reconnected with when in Australia searching for long lost ex's, this a long distance relationship but she is sure that once she has got all the pieces of her heart back again she can begin a new live with him.

This story is predictable but it is lovely and has so much emotion in it. I really was captured from the beginning and felt I had a connection with the characters. I loved all the settings in the book and most of the characters, I wasn't too fond of Kate or Valerie. If you love Paige Toon you will love this addition to her novels, this is going to be one that I recommend this summer to everyone. It truly is a wonderful read, one that has become a firm favourite on my bookshelf. Well done Paige, you have done it again!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.