27 Mar 2017

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Book Review / Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies


A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author
 
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule.

Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts. . .


Published:     23rd February 2017
Publisher:  Penguin
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher






MY REVIEW

This book took me completely by surprise.  I picked up this one firstly (and honestly) it was the cover that drew me in.  That gorgeous blue and the Indian backdrop; it just intrigued me.  Bright coloured covers always draw me in; sometimes for the better but not always!  Its been a little while since I had read a historical fiction book and I felt now was a good time to pick another one up (I am a very seasonal reader and tend to pick up more complicated, historic, thriller like books in the autumn and winter months and reading more lighter, mostly romantic, reads in the spring and summer.

What I loved about this book.  I could talk for a very long time about this but just to name a few...  Firstly, the romance side of it.  There's a bit of a will they wont' they situation going on between Jay and Eliza.  You then have each of their backgrounds, both completely different but linked for some reason that I won't spoil right now in this review.  I liked that twist in the story; a twist that I was not expecting at all!  I also liked the fact that despite it being 1930 when women were supposed to be seen and not heard, Eliza was not one of those women.  She was different and it was very interesting to watch her struggle to get along with the many people that she came across.  Along with the above, you also have the history and the ways of the people in 1930s India.  Some very interesting and some very disturbing things that I learnt and I very much hope do not still go on today in real life.

This book just swept me away.  I enjoyed every last word and will definitely be picking up more by this author. 

Continue reading Book Review / Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

19 Mar 2017

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Series Review / Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling


Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.


Published:     7th March 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 7, Harry Potter



MY REVIEW

One of my New Year resolutions this year was to re-read Harry Potter.  The last time I read the Harry Potter books was back when they first came out; purchasing them as soon as they came out and then reading them instantly, so its been a while.  I decided this time that I would listen to them on audio book, mainly because Stephen Fry (who is amazing) is the narrator and because I thought it would be interesting to read it in a different way to what I had read it before, so I can see whether I still enjoy the experience just in a different way of reading it.

As you can see I have given these books and the experience a massive 5 stars.  I absolutely loved it!  I started listening to it at the beginning of January and literally just finished it a day ago.  It has taken me a while, bearing in mind I only listen to audio books to and from my journey to work but I have looked forward to listening to these books.  Not once did I lose my place or think that it was getting boring.  Apart from obviously enjoying following Harry, Ron and Hermione I especially enjoyed the characters of Snape and Dumbledore.

In conjunction with listening to the audio books, I also watched the movies.  When I had finished watching one audio book I then watched the movie.  I hadn't realised how many bits were missing from the movie!  There are so many different scenes - some that I think were important and some that were just 'filler scenes' but still added to the actually story - that were missing.  If you have watched and love the Harry Potter movies but have not yet read the books you should, there's so much more you can learn from the books than with the movies.

Finally, one of my most favourite things about the audio books has to be the narrator, Stephen Fry.  I think he is an amazing chap anyway but his voice with these books just fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.  Boy's voices and girl's voices, he can do both very well.  There were times when I had completely forgotten that it was Stephen Fry narrating because the voices were that good! 




Continue reading Series Review / Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

16 Mar 2017

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Blog Tour Book Review / Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

The quiet town of Hartwell is the perfect place to get away from it all – and find what you never knew you needed . . .

Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content – her successful business, a close circle of friends and her steady boyfriend . . . even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.

Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.

Once Vaughn begins to realise he's made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he's never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they've found together only comes around once in a lifetime . . .

Published:     7th March 2017
Publisher:  Piatkus
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 2, Hart's Boardwalk
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher



MY REVIEW 

One of the best things about finding a book that you loved reading is to discover that there is a book 2!  I was so excited when I found out this even existed I knew I had to read it straight away.  You have all the same characters that were in the first book with a few added extras.  In book 1 we followed the story of Jessica who was new and we saw her journey.  This time we follow Bailey who has lived on Hart's Boardwalk her entire life.  

If I was asked to pick one thing that I liked the most about this book I don't think that I can.  There are so many aspects of this story that made it great for me.  You have Vaughn who Bailey has a love hate relationship with.  You then have the dispute between Bailey and her family and the Devlins who want to take over her business.  Along with that you have many other little things that all make up a great story.  Added to that you have the return of Bailey's sister who is not a character I particularly liked in this story but it was very entertaining to read!  

If you haven't picked up this series yet, you need to!  I will say that this is more on the romance side and does contain a few 'sexy times', but even if this is not your thing do give it a go as this story is so much more than that.



 
Continue reading Blog Tour Book Review / Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

14 Mar 2017

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Book Review / Stargazing for Beginners Jenny McLachlan

Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.




Published:     6th April 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher




MY REVIEW

Now, I have a few things to say about this one.  Firstly, I will say that the writing in this book is really good and I will definately be reading more from this author.  I liked her style and the way that she dealt with a very difficult situation.  Next, to put it bluntly this book made me very angry.  I think this is more because I am reading this book from an older person perspective (i'm 35) rather than a younger adult reading this.  If I had read this book ten or twenty years ago I think I would have loved it and took the story at face value.  Reading this book now, the actions of Meg's mother and grandfather just makes me angry.  How could a mother just up and leave her children to fend for themselves and not even seem bothered about it?  How could a grandfather be so flippant about the fact that his daughter has left his grandchildren to fend for themselves.  Not only that but he lets them live on their own with no supervision or help.  That just makes me angry at those characters and is the main reason I kept reading because I wanted to make sure they were ok.  

Angriness aside, I did really enjoy following Meg at school and seeing how she gets in with trying to win the competition to visit NASA headquarters.  I really was rooting for her.  

I had so many conflicting emotions with this book.  I did enjoy reading it but the subject matter made me very angry and made this uncomfortable reading for me.    
Continue reading Book Review / Stargazing for Beginners Jenny McLachlan

10 Mar 2017

Blog Tour / The Hell of It All by Bob Kroll

About the book: Retired detective T.J. Peterson is working the table scraps that his former partner, Danny Little, sometimes throws his way. One of them has Peterson hearing from a snitch about a body buried 30 years ago, the same time a drug kingpin went MIA. Peterson is also ducking an ex-con with a grudge, a hitman who likes playing jack-in-the-box with a 12 gauge. Then a former lover re-enters Peterson’s life and begs him to find her daughter, an addict who knows too much about the local drug trade for her own safety. The search for the girl and the truth about the 30-year-old corpse takes Peterson down into the hell of it all, deep into the underworld of crack houses, contract killing, money laundering, and crooked professionals doubling down on their investments of black money.

About the author: Bob Kroll has been a professional writer for more than 35 years. His work includes books, stage plays, radio dramas, TV documentaries, and historical docu-dramas for museums. The Hell of It All is the second novel in a projected trilogy featuring T.J. Peterson. Kroll lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit Bob Kroll’s website to learn more about him.

Available: March 14.

EXERPT

Chapter One (cont’d)
Continued from March 9 on Do Some Damage

You think I’m an errand boy?” Peterson said. “You thought wrong. You’re holding both ends of the same stick. Wrong word whispered in the wrong place, and someone opens you like a Ziploc. You’re no undercover hero. You’re a goddamn snitch!”
Turtle’s mouth moved, but no words came out.
So what’s your bargaining chip?” Peterson pressed. “Otherwise I’m out of here, and your name gets scratched off the list. And you know what that means — you get no calls, no favours, and no insurance when the time comes and you need a good word for whatever charge comes your way. And if that’s not enough, try this on for size: The nice-guy call to child services about your old lady, the call Danny was going to make, it doesn’t happen.”
Turtle swallowed his first few words, then tried again. “I overhear things, bits and pieces. I take what I get, you understand? I don’t ask questions.”
What are you not asking questions about?”
About rag asses jumping drug deals, you hear what I’m saying? Wearing masks and shit. Heavy duty. They’re muscling hand to hand. Strictly petty cash. Pissing off a lot of people.”
Like who?”
Like Sammy O.”
You brought me out here to talk about Sammy O pissed off at someone ripping off drug dealers? You got to be kidding, right?” Peterson knew Sammy O as a six-foot overweight slob who swaggered around the north end. Sammy and his boys casing the neighbourhood meant bad news for anyone getting in their way.
There’s a body too.”
What body?”
Buried in Laurie Park, like thirty years ago.”
Whose body?”
They didn’t say.”
Who didn’t say?”
That’s something I ain’t giving right now.”
And when are you giving it?”
After you find the body, and I get what I want.”
Where in the park?”
In the campground.”
It must be forty acres under six inches of snow. You got a campsite number?”
Turtle shook his head.
We’re talking holes again, Turtle. The last time, you had us digging holes like we were gophers.”
The last time was on someone else’s say-so,” Turtle said. “This one I heard myself. And what are you griping about? The last time, you found the body.”
But not where you said it was.”
You never knew Jonah was missing. It was my heads-up that got the cops looking for Jonah. Same thing with what’s buried in the park. So I put something on the table, and now it’s your turn to put something up.”
For rag asses and a thirty-year-old body buried someplace you don’t know.”
A campsite.”
But you don’t know the number. There could be thirty, forty, maybe a hundred campsites in the park. You want us to dig up every one on your say-so?”


Excerpt to be continued on March 12 on Books, Life & Everything

Excerpted from The Hell of It All by Bob Kroll. © 2017 by Bob Kroll. All rights reserved. Published by ECW Press Ltd. www.ecwpress.com


Continue reading Blog Tour / The Hell of It All by Bob Kroll

7 Mar 2017

Month in Review / February 2017

February was a very interesting reading month for me.  February was the month where I had a few review copies of books provided by publishers that I needed to get read (and wanted to read, of course...).  For all of you who have followed me for a while now, you know what book I am going to say was my favourite of the month....   Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks!  I was a little nervous going into this one as it is one that I had not read before and I hoped that I would love it and I did.  Nicholas Sparks never fails to win me over with his writing, every time!!!  

Top marks for the month also have to go to The One, The Breakdown and The Witchfinder's Sister.  The One was really different to what I have read before and I just could not put it down.  The Breakdown was an emotional roller coaster with a lot of twists and turns, definitely kept me on my toes!  Finally there was The Witchfinder's Sister, which is historical fiction but loosely based on an actual real life person from the past.  I found this fascinating both because of what but also from the fact that I have actually visited a lot of the places mentioned in the book!

There were two that I didn't really warm to this month.  Eyes Like Mine took me a while to get into and I just found the whole story a bit confusing.  My Sister's Bones was an only an ok read for me also. 

BOOKS READ   




BOOKS PURCHASED/RECEIVED FOR REVIEW


THE BUTCHER'S HOOK (Bought)
Georgian London. Summer 1763.

Anne Jaccob is coming of age, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. When she is taken advantage of by her tutor — a great friend of her father’s — and is set up to marry a squeamish snob named Simeon Onions, she begins to realize just how powerless she is in Georgian society. Anne is watchful, cunning, and bored.

Her saviour appears in the form of Fub, the butcher’s boy. Their romance is both a great spur and an excitement. Anne knows she is doomed to a loveless marriage to Onions and she is determined to escape with Fub and be his mistress. But will Fub ultimately be her salvation or damnation? And how far will she go to get what she wants



THE BOOK OF BERA (Received for Review)
The Book of Bera is a Viking adventure fantasy novel which follows the saga of Bera, a young Viking woman who is struggling to control her invisible twin spirit and develop her inherited gift of Sight.

On a long winter night, Bera is left to defend her stark village alone, and in the ensuing battle, her dear childhood friend, Bjorn, is killed. When soon after her father weds her to the chieftain of a rival clan, Bera realises the unthinkable: his second-in-command is responsible for her friend’s death. Though she must now learn how to be a wife and a stepmother to a hostile boy, Bera vows her revenge and sets off on a path to grow in power and hone her skills in the rough, macho clan into which she has been sold.

As her gifts continue to grow, her visions of looming disaster become more and more ominous until she has to make the ultimate choice: Will she choose revenge? Or will she succeed in leading her people to safety before it’s too late?



ECHOES IN DEATH (Received for Review)
This chilling new suspense novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb is the perfect entry point into the compelling In Death police procedural series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas.

As NY Lt. Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke are driving home, a young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—suddenly stumbles out in front of their car. Roarke slams on the brakes and Eve springs into action.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for her husband Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil”...

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked, this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?


BOURBON CREAMS AND TATTERED DREAMS (Received for Review)
Frank Rossi promised Matty the world. The Cockney Canary would become a world famous movie star. As his wife, she would be one half of a power couple, feted and adored by all. But the Wall Street crash puts paid to that and as Frank becomes more violent and unstable, Matty knows she must escape and so she flees at dead of night.

Once home in Bermondsey, she goes into hiding and starts desperately looking for work. But only the hated biscuit factory, Peek Frean's, is hiring. Then, as a secret from her past comes back to hurt her, Matty learns that Frank is on the move, determined to find her and get her back.






Continue reading Month in Review / February 2017

6 Mar 2017

Blog Tour / The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott


THE CASTING COUCH

Oh, how I love choosing characters for my books!

Of course, I have some very consistent favourites – the perfect Tom Douglas is Jack Davenport. Check out this picture – he couldn’t be better. And my favourite Becky Robinson has to be Gemma Arterton.




But the main characters in The Sixth Window are slightly different.

We have Bernie Grey – a policeman, but a joker. A fun guy, good looking – a slightly younger Gerard Butler would do it for me. Bernie would only be around 38-40, and Gerard Butler is now slightly older, but he has the perfect look.



 

And then we have the very suspicious Ed Cooper. Mark Strong would be perfect – if once again a tad too old. But I always pictured Ed with no hair – in fact originally it was mentioned in the book, but was cut at some point!



The women created an interesting challenge. Natalie, the main female protagonist who is grieving the loss of her husband, Bernie, has red hair. She’s quite a gentle soul normally, although will of course fight to the death for her daughter. But in keeping with the red hair, I thought Jessica Chastain would be perfect.




Scarlett, Natalie and Bernie’s fifteen year old daughter, has inherited her mum’s red hair – which she hates – and her dad’s pale skin, which is even worse in her mind. I had the perfect photo of the girl who would play Scarlett, until I checked and found out she was thirty years old (and looks twelve), so I may have to pass on her.

But Alison, Natalie’s best friend who has a significant role to play, would be played by Jaimie Alexander. I love the pointed chin and the incredible eyes that look, just like Alison’s, as if they may hide some secrets.

Finally, we have to cast Lewis. He has such a pivotal role that I couldn’t leave him out, and there is one actor with the perfect look, and that’s Jake Gyllenhaal. Good looking, but with a hint of danger. 



Twitter: @RachelAbbott


Continue reading Blog Tour / The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott

1 Mar 2017

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Book Review / It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

SOMETIMES THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU IS THE ONE WHO HURTS YOU THE MOST

Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

 
Published:     2nd August 2016
Publisher:  Atrica Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned



MY REVIEW

What I loved about this book...  I have read a couple of books by this author before and really enjoyed them so I decided to try out this one.  Instead of reading the description or watching a review, I decided to go into this blind, as an experiment to see where the story takes me.  The title of this book intrigued me, it could mean any number of things.  I think part of the not knowing what this was all about was the part that I enjoyed the most and would highly recommend going into this book blind if you haven't read it yet.  You have these two characters who meet and you know they like each other a lot from that first moment.  It took until quite a way into the book until we discovered what this story was all about and I have to say that I was surprised but kind of suspected that it could be a possibility.  A very interesting and uncomfortable subject to read about.  I have to say that I am now more determined than every to read everything Colleen Hoover has written, I like her writing style.  I think I may even attempt the going into books blind more often, I found it really fun!

What I didn't like about this book...   There wasn't anything in particular that I can pinpoint and say that I didn't like this part or that part.  For me, this book wasn't one of those that I was like 'Wow, that was amazing' by the time I got to the end but more 'that was really good, i'm glad I read it'.  That said, I would definitely re-read this at some point later.  I wonder what it will be like reading it the second time when I know all about the story.  I wonder whether it will be as good.  I'll have to find out, at some point.


Continue reading Book Review / It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover