Friday, 29 November 2013

Can't You Sleep Little Bear? - Martin Waddell

Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Little Bear can't sleep. There is dark all around him in the Bear Cave. Not even Big Bear's biggest lantern can light up the darkness of the night outside. But then Big Bear finds the perfect way to reassure Little Bear and help him fall fast asleep...'

I bought this book to use as a topic for my class, to learn about light and dark and narrative.

The children loved this story and so did I, it is about a little bear who cannot go to sleep because he is afraid of the dark. The story is about big bear trying to solve this problem until eventually he falls asleep.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the language is good in the story. I also used this book to introduce the children to questions and how we know what they are and when someone is asking a question. From an educational point of view this book offers a lot.

The book also made the children laugh and they identified the repetition which they enjoyed joining in with. The children were glued to the book as it was being read and were interested in finding out what was going to happen to help little bear fall asleep.

Some children identified with the story as they found the dark scary. This also helped them to see that there is nothing to be frightened of, and reassured them.

I love this book as it is brilliant for combining literacy with the science topic light and dark.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Correspondence by John Julius Norwich

 The Twelve Days of Christmas: Correspondence. John Julius Norwich by John Julius Norwich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'A delightful spoof of the old favourite carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ which records the daily thank-you letters from one increasingly bemused young lady to her unseen admirer: from initial gracious gratitude for the delightful partridge in the sweet little pear tree through to dismay and distress and a final threatening solicitor’s letter as a bacchanalia of pipers, scantily clad dancers and the full percussion section of the Liverpool Philharmonic create mayhem outside her door. The witty full colour drawings by Quentin Blake are a perfect accompaniment to the irrepressible humour of this sparkling little book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.'

When I received this copy to review I couldn't wait to share it with my class. They all know the song the 12 days of Christmas and felt they could join in with parts of the book.

They loved the illustrations by the wonderful Quentin Blake, they are familiar with his drawings from reading other stories with his illustrations in.

This is a very funny version of the song and we follow Emily and what she receives from her admirer,in letter versions. The children found it very funny to imagine actually getting the gifts from the song. They were giggling throughout the story and I also found it funny.

I think this is a great little book in the run up to Christmas as a stocking filler or as a gift to yourself. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to have a little chuckle and this should be a firm book on everyone's bookshelf to share around this time of year!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Illustrated Christmas Cracker - John Julius Norwich

 The Illustrated Christmas Cracker by John Julius Norwich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'For over forty years, John Julius Norwich has been sending out his Christmas Crackers - a personal collection of quirky quotes and literary odds and ends - to his friends instead of a Christmas card. In The Illustrated Christmas Cracker Quentin Blake has made his own selection of favourite pieces and has illustrated them in his own trademark style. From curious dictionary definitions ('Carphology. Delirious fumbling with the bedclothes,' Concise Oxford Dictionary) and tortuous palindromes ('Live dirt up a side-track carted is a putrid evil') to eighteenth-century accounts of drunken pigs and Benjamin Franklin's account of inventing bifocals, this cracker is stuffed with surprising, offbeat, often hilarious gems. Enlivened by Quentin Blake's witty illustrations, this book is the perfect stocking-filler for the discerning customer.'

When I was sent this book from the publisher I was excited about sharing it with my class of children, this however I found was not possible. The text is way too advanced for them and they didn't understand it, also some of the text was not suitable for them.

This is a book that have been compiled of John Norwich's 'Christmas Crackers' he sends to his family and friends at Christmas time, instead of a Christmas card. The book is made up of poetry and prose that he has found amusing.

The illustrations in the book are wonderful, to be honest I expected nothing less from Quentin Blake! They are humorous and fit well with the text.

Some of the quotes I found very funny and others not so, I do feel though that my expectations of the book did not follow with what I actually got. I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to share it with my class as it quickly became apparent this was an adults book.

This is a nice 'coffee table' book as it can be flicked through and you can get a snip of enjoyment from it.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Christmas at Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop - Jenny Colgan

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ SweetshopChristmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes large tempting piles of Turkish Delight crinkling selection boxes and happy sticky children. She's going to be spending it with her boyfriend Stephen and her family flying in from Australia. She can't wait. 

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community all of Rosie's plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what's best for the sweetshop also what's best for Rosie? 

Treat yourself and your sweet-toothed friends to Jenny Colgan's heart-warming new novel. The irresistibly delicious recipes are guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit and will warm up your Christmas celebrations.'

This was the first book I have read by Jenny Colgan, but had heard great things about her and really was keen to read her festive book.

I love the cover of the book, it is so Christmasy and really puts you in the festive mood. I also love the recipes at the back of the book, this is a nice edition to a holiday read.

To be honest I found it difficult to get into the book, I felt really down about this as I was looking forward to it so much. I have come up with one reason why I found it so hard and this is because I have not read Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop. It does state that this is a stand alone book as well as a sequel, however I think it helps if you have read the story before as you will get background info on the characters, this is something that I felt was lacking in this book. But if you have read the first one, you wouldn't want background info again.

Once into the story I began to get some connection with the characters and really enjoyed the story. This is a story about Lucy, she owns a sweet shop in the village of Lipton, Derbyshire. She is living happily with her boyfriend Stephen who is a primary school teacher at the village school. One day a tragedy hits the village, which could potentially cause the sweet shop to close. The story sees Rosie trying to save the village, one she is not originally from, however she now feels part of. You find yourself crossing everything you have that Rosie and the villagers will be able to save their village.

Meanwhile Rosie's family spring on her that they will be over from Australia to see her this Christmas. Rosie is thrilled, however not so thrilled at the prospect of telling Stephen, he has a lot on at the moment and their relationship is not the best that it has been. All the while when her family are in Lipton, Rosie is considering a move to Australia back with her family, this seems like the best option and could be great for her.

I found Jenny Colgan's writing well rounded, there were times in the book where I was laughing and other times I actually felt quite sad. I feel this is a strength that Jenny has and is very skilled at creating many emotions in her book.

I would recommend anyone who wants to read this book to read Sweet shop of Dreams first as I think you may have a better connection with the characters from early on. This is something I wish I had done.

Since reading this book, I have bought other books by Jenny Colgan. I did enjoy this book and think that it is a nice Christmas read, the ending is just perfect. 

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy to review.

Monday, 18 November 2013

A Cinderella Christmas - Holly Kingston


(Publishing 19th November 2013: Novelicious Books)

Lucy Tilley dreams of a career in show business. But this isn’t quite what she had in mind …
This year’s Cinderella pantomime is the hottest production in town. What’s more, Lucy is starring alongside Ryan Aspall: famous TV actor, sex symbol and potential love of her entire life. One teeny problem – Lucy is tripping the light fantastic as … the back end of the comedy cow. Surely nothing kills a flirty moment quite like wearing a massive set of udders? At least she has the support of glamorous (if potentially flammable) Charmaine; a reality star diva of a Cinderella, who Lucy is completely fascinated by. But behind the fame and beauty, Charmaine is not all she seems. With more drama off the stage than on it, and everyone wanting to be star of the show, will Lucy find the confidence to make it out of the cow suit and into the spotlight this Christmas?

My 5* Review:

This is a fab debut novella from Holly, and it really is fab! I was sent the copy late on Friday night, but only realised I had it on Saturday morning. I sat in bed and began to read. It came apparent very quickly that this would be a book that I would not be putting down. And within a few hours I had finished it. It is just such a brilliant Christmas novella, it had me laughing out loud and routing for characters. I feel so honored I was among the select few to read this before publication day. 

This story is based on Lucy, she is an aspiring actress, however she has never had a lead role, this is down to her lack of confidence. She is in Cinderella this year with some really famous people. Charmaine plays Cinderella and is currently the celebrity in vogue. When Lucy begins spending time with her she feels she has died and gone to heaven. She ends up being her unofficial PA and Lucy feels this is a real honor to be asked. Lucy has a crush on the lead male role, Ryan. Lucy is hoping that the more time they spend together he also will realise that he loves her. There is a slight problem though, that is Lucy is the back end of a cow...

This is a brilliant Christmas novella, Lucy is likable and I felt I could connect to her straight away. The story is funny and the pace is good. I began to develop hate for Charmaine and wanted her to get her comeuppance. Holly has written this novella very well, there is so much happening in it, it's hard to believe that it is so short. It feels like a novel to read and it also is not rushed at the end, this is something I feel that does happen in novellas. Holly ties things up nicely and the story is very smooth. I was only disappointed to come to the end. 

I am glad I have had the opportunity to read something by Holly and she is going to be an author to watch. Her writing is brilliant and she connects to her audience well. This novella has really got me in the mood for Christmas, and I now desperately want to go and see a pantomime this year. 

This is one to read to get you into the Christmas mood, I recommend everyone to read it!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this review copy.


Holly started her life as a child. When she grew substantially taller and learnt how to read, she decided that she’d jolly well like to write books. Whilst at college, Holly had a slight change in her career focus and decided to become a marine biologist. On discovering that she sucked at science and that her future job was unlikely to involve monitoring anything larger than sea plankton, Holly went back to the drawing board and got a Bsc in Psychology instead. She studied with Script writing North and wrote her first film, along with a number of shorts and a sitcom pilot. After several years of writing, rewriting, and hiding stuff for posterity on her hard drive, she sent her first novel to The Marsh Agency where she is now represented by Hannah Ferguson. She is currently working on her second full length novel and wondering how to lose the weight she’s put on whilst writing her last book. Her first book, A Cinderella Christmas, is out this November.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk . . .Fortunately, the Milk . . . by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back.

Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.'

I won this as part of the Goodreads, first reads.

I entered this giveaway as I am always on the look out to expose my class of children to new books and authors.

The book itself is a chapter type book and we shared it together as a class over a period of days at the end of the day. The children first commented on the fact that the pictures were black and white, this was something they were not expecting as most books they are exposed to have colour images. Once explained that they could pretend and make up the colours in their head they seemed happy.

The story is about dad, getting the children ready for school but they run out of milk for their breakfast. Dad offers to go to the shop to get them some. The story is about dad's journey to get milk and all the encounters he has.

This story was read to a class of 5 year olds and I must say some of the language they found hard to understand, and for this reason I would read it to older children in the future.

The children did enjoy the adventure he went on and could recall parts of the story, aliens, dinosaurs, vampires etc. They didn't get the story until right at the end.

Their favourite part was in the middle, where there is a wonderful surprise that kept their interest.

I would like to thank Goodreads for sending me this copy and although I thought the book was a little old for the audience, they enjoyed it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Conditional Love - Cathy Bramley

Conditional LoveConditional Love by Cathy Bramley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Meet Sophie Stone, a thirty-something serial procrastinator. Tesco knickers, Take That and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much. 
But when her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, even Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is a catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen. 
Not a fan of surprises, Sophie would rather not; why not let sleeping dads lie? Besides, her mother would kill her. 
With interference from an evil boss, bickering flat mates, warring parents and a sexy ex-boyfriend, Sophie has plenty to contend with without an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth. 

But it soon becomes clear that she will have to face the past and learn some uncomfortable home truths before she can finally build a future on her own terms.'

When I got the opportunity to read Cathy Bramley's debut novel I couldn't wait, it sounded just like something I would like to read.

So much happens in the story and it is nicely written, warm believable characters with any easy pace to the novel. The main character Sophie Stone is funny and easy to identify with, she is moving along with her relatively unremarkable life living with her two flat mates who are sisters when an unexpected letter from a solicitor has the potential to change her life forever.

Through events that happen we meet Nick the architect and I liked how his character brings an element of mystery to the storyline. It had some laugh out aloud moments especially Sophie 's boardroom debut.

All in all a good light read, somewhat predictable in its ending but overall an enjoyable summer by the beach read. I would give this a rating of four stars, worth reading and would be good to have a sequel as I feel the lack of the epilogue would have helped to tell me what happens next.

I would like to thank Cathy for sending me a copy of her great book to read, I am only sorry it took me so long to get round to read it!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Twin Beds: Christmas at Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach

Twin Beds: Christmas at Heartbreak HotelTwin Beds: Christmas at Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Christmas should be a joyous occasion filled with peace and love, but the looming prospect of the festive season fills Russell 'Buffy' Buffery with dread. Retired actor, thrice divorced, hapless father - Buffy is well versed in the complicated family Christmas, shuffling between exes and children.

Except this year will be different. He has inherited a B&B in rural Wales, and can finally escape the nearest and dearest, and play 'Myne Host' to a group of paper-hatted strangers, on escape-routes from their own clans. But when the strangers check in with their emotional baggage, and the Cab Sav begins to flow, Buffy soon realises that Christmas is never without its little complications.

Join the gang at Heartbreak Hotel as they run riot, and celebrate Christmas the Buffy way.'

I downloaded this short story as I had just finished Heartbreak Hotel and thought I would give this a go. I must say that I am so glad I downloaded it, it is very short but I actually found it better than Heartbreak Hotel.

The story is obviously very quick and did feel a little rushed, I feel it could have been a tad longer to allow the reader to immerse themselves in the story.

This story I actually found funny, this was something Heartbreak Hotel promised but I felt let down by it and I didn't find it funny at all, where as this in a few pages did have me laughing.

This story follows characters who check into the hotel over Christmas, for all sorts of reasons, their families spend it with others, they are single etc. I felt that at the end of the story I was left wanting more and a question was unanswered which in this case I liked.

This is great for a quick read (and I mean quick) running up to the holiday season.

I would recommend this.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Caribbean Cruising - Thomas Cook Publishing

Traveller Guides Caribbean Cruising, 5th: Popular, compact guides for discovering the very best of country, regional and city destinationsTraveller Guides Caribbean Cruising, 5th: Popular, compact guides for discovering the very best of country, regional and city destinations by Thomas Cook Publishing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'The traveller guides are informative and concise, and are aimed at mainstream travelers wanting to discover something a little different on their trip.  These indispensable guides offer the perfect blend of culture, history, practical information, mapping, photography and listings.

TIME-TRAVEL with a trek into the primordial forest of Dominica's Morne Trois Pitons National Park, skirting volcanoes and fumaroles, and brave a dip at the foor of the spectatcular Middleham Falls.

STRUT to the rhythms of steel bands and soca at Trinidad's carnival, amidst a sea of glittering dancers, devils, bird-men and butterfly-women.

FEAST on a traditional St Lucian breakfast of saltfish and bakes, served up with fluffy dumplings and a steaming cup of chocolate tea, the nutmeg-laced local cocoa.

DIVE beneath the waves for an extravaganza of darting electric-blue kissing fish and black-and-yellow seargeant majors, a spectacle to rival the carnivals above the surface.'

I bought this book before we cruised. I bought it online and was unable to see the destinations it covers, to be honest most are covered. However we found that during one of our cruises there was little information on certain destinations. Saying this we thought it was a good introduction to the Caribbean and if you have not visited the region before this is a nice guide to have.

We liked the layout of the book, it begins with brief history of the Caribbean, the culture and festivals etc. Then it splits into the destination guide. These are very brief, however the Caribbean is a place made up of many, many islands and for them all to be covered in this guide it would need to be huge.

All countries covered in the guide include background information, your arrival from the port, a map, and any local interests. Towards the back of the guide there is a helpful section on When to go, this gives you information on hurricanes and the general weather. There is also essential information which we found very useful at the back.

Finally there is a directory at the back which includes places to eat and the prices of these, these too are useful, however we rarely ate off the ship as we would spend a whole day exploring and just have a big breakfast before we got off.

If you want a guide which gives you in depth info on the country then this is not the guide book for you, however if you want a snap shot with many countries in to help you learn a little of the country you are visiting this is great. It is compact and can fit in your bag with you.

I am a fan of Thomas Cook Traveller books as I feel they give you a good general overall picture of a place, it is broken down into small sections and is easy to follow.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Sunlounger - Belinda Jones

SunloungerSunlounger by Belinda Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Take a trip around the world with 44 of the hottest writers in Women's Fiction!

This collection of sun-kissed short stories will have you boarding a millionaire's yacht in St Tropez, exploring a sheik's palace in Dubai, swimming with dolphins in Australia, partying in Ibiza, surfing in Hawaii, exploring ancient ruins in Turkey and Cambodia and sipping Limoncello in Italy! 

Whether you read it on your favourite beach (Sunlounger features golden sands from Greece to Thailand) or on your daily commute or coffee break you will be spirited away on a variety of adventures - some will make you chuckle, some will make your heart pang, others will inspire you to live your life to the max.'

When I was chatting to Belinda on Twitter and she offered me a copy of Sunlounger to review, I jumped at the chance. I was going away and what could be more perfect than read stories set abroad?

All I can say is that Belinda Jones I am so sorry it has taken me so long to review, why? Well I didn't want the fabulous collection of short stories to end so I have been stringing them out. (Sorry!)

Well what can I say? This is a brilliant book which contains many well established authors and some not so which have written short stories based in different destinations across the world. Yes there are some a lot better than others, but this is expected in a collection book. What I love about it is that you can get a quick reading fix of a whole story in a short amount of time and feel you have accomplished reading a whole book.

What else I love about short story collections is that I regularly come across authors I have not read before. This happened on this occasion. I read a short story by Katie Agnew set in St Barts and absolutely loved it. I then went out and bought her story Too Hot to Handle on the strength of reading that short story. So thank you Belinda Jones for introducing me to her.

I find it really hard to write a review for a book of short stories as I find it unnecessary to go through each story, I feel that you have just got to read it to see how good it is. I didn't finish the collection while I was away, I savored it and treated myself to a short story over a few nights, this helped me get away for my busy life and just dream about being away on a beach somewhere, or troweling through a busy souk looking for a bargain under the sun.

This is a short story collection that I would recommend everyone to own. It is brilliant, it just makes me happy thinking about it. Thank you so much Belinda Jones for making this book happen and offering it to me to review. I do hope this is continued perhaps a Christmas collection?

I would like to thank Belinda Jones for sending me this copy to review.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Driving Home for Christmas - Emma Hannigan

Driving Home For ChristmasDriving Home For Christmas by Emma Hannigan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Christmas at Huntersbrook House is a family tradition and this year it's even more important as, with mounting debts and insufficient income from the livery yard, it looks like the Craig family might have to sell their beloved family home.

Pippa, Joey and Lainey are the three grown up Craig children who, caught up with their own lives in Dublin, are, as yet, unaware of the problems facing Huntsersbrook.

Joey is starting to wonder if his controlling, fitness-mad girlfriend really is the one for him. Lainey, the family worrier, is doing her best to ignore her ex's recent engagement while also trying to look out for her sister Pippa whose frivolous lifestyle is about to catch up with her.

As the Christmas season approaches, the Craig family need to do some soul-searching and what better place than around the fire at Huntersbrook House.

One thing's for sure, this is a Christmas none of them will forget. But will it be their last at Huntersbrook or will they manage to save the family home?'

When I was sent driving home for Christmas, I was unsure of what to expect. I have never read a book by Emma Hannigan before and was not sure of her style of writing.

This story is based around the Craig family. The chapters are relatively short and each represent one of the members from the family. The story is in the run up to Christmas, where they normally spend it at Huntersbrook House as a whole family.

All the characters in the story are written very well, I had a connection with some and found it hard to relate to others. Pippa was my favourite character and actually reminded me slightly of Becky Bloomwood from the shopaholic series. She loves to spend money and is in a lot of debt. I do not think there was meant to be a connection between the two, this is something I just interpreted from reading her character.

I also loved Joey, I thought his character was written very well and loved his story. I felt sorry for him at times and then envious that he got to spend so much time at Huntersbrook House!

Lainey I found hard to connect with and I didn't find her story as interesting as the others in the family, saying this though the story would have not been right without her and it was important her character was included.

For me I found I had a personal connection to the book. When growing up I had a strong family unit and we would visit my grandparents in Cornwall where they had a large house. This bought back memories for me reading this book and I made links between my own family Christmas and the Craigs.

I would say that this book is Christmas wrapped up in a box, it is about family, connections and the love you have for your family. I would recommend this book to everyone for Christmas as its heart warming and makes you wish you were part of the Craig family sharing their family Christmas.

I would like to that Headline for sending me this review copy.

I have been lucky enough to have received a second copy of the wonderful tale 'Driving home for Christmas' because I have enjoyed it so much I am offering one lucky person the opportunity of winning a copy of it. 

And as it is nearly Christmas  and it is the season to be jolly - the giveaway is International :D enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 8 November 2013

Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach

Heartbreak HotelHeartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for.

In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds - and fast.

Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who's been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle.

But under Buffy's watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought..'

I have had this book sitting on my shelf for some time and finally got round to reading it.

I had high hopes for this book as I loved the Marigold Hotel and thought this would be on the same wave length. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed with it, this also claims to be extremely funny but I didn't laugh at all.

This follows Buffy a retired actor living in London, who has a friend in Wales who runs a B and B. He gets the news that she has passed and he has been left her B&B, Buffy sums up his options and deciding that there is little keeping him in London, decides to make the move to Wales and give it a go.

Once in Wales Buffy realises that there is more that he originally thought to do to the B&B and he is unsure at his age if he can cope. He employs Voda who worked for his friend when she had the B&B. She takes a more important role with Buffy and practically becomes his partner, without her Buffy couldn't have coped.

To help get the B&B off the group Buffy introduces courses for divorces to enable people to gain skills that their partner once sorted out. There are many characters in this book and at times I felt I had to go back into the book to work out who was who. This was something I wasn't keen on as I wanted to be able to have an easy read, something that I thought this book would have given me.

I found it hard to connect to the characters, this I am unsure of why, it could be that I found it a bit old for me, I had little in common with them. I actually enjoyed Amy's story line the most, I am guessing this is because she seemed to be closest to my age and I could relate to her slightly.

The story was written well, but unfortunately as I said before I found the story disappointing, I think I had high hopes for this and it just didn't live up to my expectations.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me the copy to review.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Proposal - Tasmina Perry

The ProposalThe Proposal by Tasmina Perry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Just say yes to this unforgettable read and take a spellbinding, romantic journey from the dazzling days of the debutantes in 1950s London to glamorous modern Manhattan.

When Amy Carrell's wealthy boyfriend ends their relationship just before Christmas, she's left to nurse her broken heart alone. With nothing to lose, she replies to an advertisement requesting a companion for a mysterious 'Manhattan adventure'. 

Whisked off to New York with eccentric British aristocrat Georgia Hamilton, Amy experiences a glamorous side of the city that she's never seen before. Along the way, Georgia initiates her protegee in the arts of old-school elegance. 

But as Georgia shares her life lessons, Amy discovers a painful secret in her mentor's past. A secret that shattered her future. A story of love and betrayal that only Amy has the power to put right.'

I have never read any of Tasmina Perry's books, not because I didn't want to, just I never got round to them. When I was offered the opportunity to read her latest one The Proposal I jumped at the chance.

Being my first Tamsina Perry book, it certainly won't be ny last, I absolutely loved this story and would recommend it to everyone!

Amy Carrell is American, however she has been over in the UK for a few years, following her dream of becoming a dancer. She has recently broken up with her boyfriend and wants to go home to visit her family for Christmas. Unfortunately she hasn't had much luck in the dance industry lately and is currently working as a waitress and cannot afford the fair back to Nee York.

She spots an advert in one of the local papers for a travel companion to New York for the holidays. Amy figures she has little to lose and responds to the ad. She goes to meet, which turn out to be a sweet old lady. So they are off on a Mantatten adventure, while they are away, it dawns on Amy she knows little about this lady. We learn about Georgia's time as a debutante in the late 1950's and we slip yo and from the present to learn about her story. One that is told with passion and I'd written well.

I absolutely loved this story, it is one where you think I'll just read a fee chapters and before you know where you are you are half way through the book. I found this to be an extremely quick read and I was only disappointed when it ended. I have recently visited New York myself and could almost see where Amy and Georgia were. I felt I was travelling with them on their Manhatten adventure and didn't want to come home.

This is a lonely story of an old woman, bitter betrayal, a love story and kindness. I feel this is a story that would stay with me for sometime.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a beautiful tale to read.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A French Affair Katie Fforde - Guest Reviewer Janet Emson

Published by Century
Hardback publication date – 28 February 2013
Paperback publication date – 13 March 2014
Rating 4 of 5 stars

Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited a stall in the French House – an antiques centre nestled in the heart of the English countryside. 
Gina is determined to drag the French House and its grumpy owner into the twenty-first century. Bearing all the attributes of a modern-day Mr Rochester, Matthew Ballinger is less than happy with the whirlwind that has arrived on his doorstep.
The last thing either of them want is to fall in love.
But will a trip to France change their minds?

Gina Makepiece and her sister Sally have been left a small legacy by their Aunt Rainey, a stall in The French House, an antiques centre in the Cotswolds. Neither of them know anything about antiques and while Sally displays little interest in old things, Gina is determined to make a success of the business and learn all she can about antiques. She has to contend with the taciturn Matthew Ballinger the owner of the French House. As she learns more about the antiques business and Matthew she slowly comes to realise she has fallen in love with antiques, the French House and its owner.
When she learns that the French House is in danger of being sold she uses all her PR skills in an attempt to raise the funds needed to save it, all the while wondering if Matthew returns her feelings.

I’m sure I’m like other people in that I have a group of authors I can turn to when I’m in a reading slump. For me that group includes Jane Austen and Katie Fforde. I have read all of her previous novels, some a number of times and have never been disappointed. I have always enjoyed the journeys the female protagonists have taken and watching how they fall in love. I know that when I settle down with a Katie Fforde novel I’m in for a treat. A French Affair was no different. I liked Gina, who was just the right level of feistiness and determined and her sister Sally who was more emotional and romantic. The relationship between Gina and Matthew develops at a realistic pace, whereas in some romantic novels I have read the protagonists go from barely knowing each other to practically married in the space of a couple of chapters. As always I found myself racing through this book, with the last couple of chapters a blur as I eagerly wanted to find out what would happen to Gina, Matthew and the French House. This was a lovely read and Katie Fforde fans won’t be disappointed. The only disappointment I have is that I have to wait until next year for the next book!

I would like to thank Janet for reviewing A French Affair, another great review!

You can contact Janet on Twitter: @JanetEmson 

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Moment - Claire Dyer

The MomentThe Moment by Claire Dyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Paddington station, nine a.m., rush hour. As the crowds ebb and flow, time suddenly
stands still for two people: Fern and Elliott, ex-lovers who parted twenty-five years before and never expected to see each other again.

But here they are, face to face, and the connection is as powerful as it was the day they first met. Their lives have moved on – to marriage, children and divorce – yet neither has stopped regretting the day that drove them apart.

Fern gives Elliott her number and they tentatively arrange to meet again that
evening when both will be travelling back through the station. And, as the day ticks on, and the memories resurface, both Fern and Elliott relect on the past. As
their emotions go round in circles, so does the Paddington clock, counting down the minutes to eight p.m. – and the moment the future is in their hands."

I was sent this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Moment is a story that is about Fern and Elliot. They were once lovers at university, their relationship never lasted and they went their desperate ways. Both have families of their own and have long moved on. 25 years later they by chance meet each other at the train station on their way to continue their busy lives. Fern going to meet her friend for her birthday and Elliott on the way to his father's house in Wales for day.

I thought that the initial idea for this story was a good one, unfortunately I didn't really find it to be my type of book. I found it very slow and the falling into the past I found confusing at times. I also found the story to b a bit repetitive and this I found I was skipping to get to a part that was a little more interesting. I thought that this would be a quick read, it was but not for the reasons I originally thought.

The story is all set during one day and most of this day is thoughts about what if? Elliot has lost a few things in his life and contemplates these during the day, hid angle I found a bit depressing as he swallowing in self pitty. Fern is more upbeat and remembers all the firsts and good parts of her life, such as the first time she took her children abroad. I prefered reading her part during the story for this reason.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me the book, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Christmas Yves - Nicola May

Christmas Yves
Novella by Nicola May - Out this November!


It’s two days before Christmas - and Evie Harris finds herself both manless and jobless. After a chance encounter with handsome Greg (and egged on by her toy-boy-eating friend, Bea) she agrees to work at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day. 

Striking up an unlikely friendship with homeless Yves, Evie  begins an unwitting journey of spiritual awakening, all set against the sparkling winter backdrop of London landmarks. 
A New Year’s Eve revelation is on its way . . .  but will it leave Evie with a happy heart, or will she allow the pre-Christmas past to dictate her future?


This morning when I woke up I was not expecting the opportunity to read Nicola May's new novella, when I saw she was asking for bloggers to read this I jumped at the chance. I love a good short story and I did not want to turn this one down. 

First of all I want to mention the cover, what a gorgeous cover?! 

The story begins with Evie, she catches her boyfriend cheating and he moves out, she is left alone a few days before Christmas. Evie has had a rough time, not only has she lost her boyfriend but she also lost her job. She now has the added stress of what to do once her money runs out, she has enough to see her through the rest of this year but when January comes it is going to be tough!

Evie is drowning her sorrows in the pub with her best friend Bea, Bea is a character I love. She says it as it is and is actually quite humorous, she does bring extra fun to the novella. While they are discussing the matters at hand Greg interrupts them. Greg helps out at a homeless shelter and as he has heard Evie has no where better to be on Christmas day ropes her into helping him out there. 

This is a feel good factor novella and carries many messages and morals. I found it heartwarming and all the characters you grow to love. Yves, Evie meets on Christmas day at the homeless shelter and sparks up an unlikely friendship with him, they meet regularly and he opens her eyes to her life and others. 

The story has the magic you require in a Christmas story and it brings hope to everyone who reads it. It is short, however I didn't feel like it had been rushed. It gives you the feel good factor once you have read it. I loved the epilogue at the end, I felt that this nicely wrapped up the story, it didn't need to be there as the story would have fine without it, however it created an extra spark that I wasn't expecting. 

I found that it was not too predictable, the love interest I worked out from the beginning but the story with Yves was a surprising one and this I very much enjoyed. 

I would like to thank Nicola for sending me her novella to read today, it has left me with sparkle and magic, I also feel I have been touched by the story and will remember it for some time. I urge everyone to add this to your Christmas reading list this year as you will not be disappointed in this little gem. 

I would rate this novella 5*

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Thank You!

So it is November already and I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in my Oct Blog take over. 

I loved to be able to read about others blogs, what inspires them to write, reviews and just about them. I hope you also enjoyed them 'taking over' the blog. 

Well short and sweet just wanted to say thanks :D


So what does November have in store? Some fabulous books!!! 

Unfortunately half term is nearly over and although I have been very pleased with myself for reading and reviewing many books, (reviews scheduled :D) I am back to school on Monday which means less time for reading :(

I do however plan to read a lot more this half term than last. Finally I have managed to clear a huge back list of books I had to read, I do still have a few but my TBR pile has shrunk. I have a few that I will be sharing with my class this half term and will have some children's books to add, I also have many Christmas books to get stuck into and cannot wait for this!

I wanted to try and review before these books are due out, unfortunately I am unsure I will get through them all by publication date - stick with me though, I will try. 

So what books are you most looking forward to this November? 

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Life List - Lori Nelson Spielman

The Life ListThe Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she'd written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen.

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother's decision-her childhood dreams don't resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future.

As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life's sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.'

This is a book that I have had for a very long time, sitting on my TBR pile and not got round to reading it. I have just finished it and I did enjoy it.

As I began reading it I found similarities in the story to P.S I love you by Cecelia Ahern and I can see connections to that book.

I was engrossed into the story right from the beginning. I found it a heartwarming and at points sad book, it has emotions running throughout and as a reader I changed my mind on characters more than once.

Brett has a stable job, a spacious loft and a boyfriend she has been with for years. She seems to have it all, that is until her mother dies. The family go to hear her mothers will read out, and to Brett's surprise she is left nothing. Her sister in law inherits the company and her brothers get their share, but nothing for Brett.

When the family have left Brad, who has read the will out asks her to stay behind as he has a letter for her from her mother, this is the point we discover Brett's life list. This is a list that she created when she was 14 and her mother had kept it. It is her mothers wish that she completes the points she has highlighted, if she doesn't complete this within a year, she will not receive any of her inheritance.

We follow Brett through the story trying to complete these goals, once she has completed one she gets another letter from her mother (P.S I love you reference)

This is a story that takes you on a journey and also asks you to question your life, is everything the way you had wished it would be when you were younger? It also encourages you to analyse your life to see how you can make it better and that no matter how far you are into your life it is not too late to change and take a leap of faith.

Unfortunately for me the last few chapters felt a little rushed and I felt the story came to an abrupt end. It also left me with lots of questions unanswered. Things that I thought would have been explained perhaps were not, for this reason it is why I have given the book overall 4*.

Lori Nelson Spielman is an author I had not heard of before and I am pleased I had the opportunity to read her debut book. On the strength of this I would read others of hers.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this copy to review.

For this review and more please visit: