Thursday, 29 January 2015

Release Day Round Up #14

It's been quite a while since I did a release day post and there have been some brilliant books released which I've missed so I thought it was time to get back into sharing my weekly favourites. This week I have chosen a real mix of books including new and old authors and a mixture of genres.

The One & Only
The One and Only by Emily Giffin
Released: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas - a small college town that lives and dies by American football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker's legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea's comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she's chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most - and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.
I'm a huge Emily Giffin fan so super excited to read her latest book, just hope there isn't too much football talk in it as I'm not a sports fan at all.
Scarred For Life (Jessica Daniel, #9)
Scarred for Life (Jessica Daniels #9) by Kerry Wilkinson
Released: 29th January 2015
Published: Pan Macmillian
Pages: 300
Available in paperback and on Kindle
DI Jessica Daniel is not having a good week. Her wallet's been nicked, the refurbished incident room is already falling apart, and a new football-mad constable is driving her crazy.

She also has bigger things on her mind. A student's body has been dumped in a wheelie bin at the back of a university building, with a vague link to an Olympic medallist and a theory that it could have been an induction which went wrong.

There's the tattooed shop raider who has her team stumped; someone attacking lone women; a chief inspector who seems to have a problem with her; and someone putting letters through her front door insisting that she's caught 'the wrong man'.

Worlds are colliding for Jessica - and, if she's not careful, someone close to her might not make it out in one piece.
 I can't believe its time for another Jessica Daniel book already! I read the eighth (and my first) book back in September and I was hoping to go back and start the series from the beginning before the next one. Sadly this hasn't happened but I'm actually really looking forward to getting stuck into the next one and finding out more about Jessica.
As Good As It Gets?
As Good As It Gets by Fiona Gibson
Released: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 400
Available on Kindle
A warm, funny read for fans of Outnumbered and the novels of Fern Britton, Fiona writes about life as it really is.

“Midlife crisis? WHAT midlife crisis?!”

Charlotte Bristow is worried about her husband Will. With her 16-year-old daughter Rosie newly signed to a top modelling agency, and Will recently out of a job, things are changing in their household.

As Will dusts down his old leather trousers and starts partying with their new, fun neighbours, Charlotte begins to wonder what on earth is going on.

So when Fraser, Charlotte’s ex – and father of Rosie – suddenly arrives back on the scene, she starts to imagine what might have been…
Surprisingly I have yet to read anything by Fiona Gibson, although I just know from reading the blurbs I will love them. I have finally found my kindle charger so am going to start reading this tonight, look out for a review in the next couple of weeks
The Ties That Bind
The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly
Released: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 368
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?

Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye - until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand's alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there's more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.

Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye's murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger.
I think this sounds like a really great gripping read, hopefully I will get to give it a read soon. Erin Kelly is also the author of Broadchurch which is now the tv hit (haven't seen any of it yet).
First Frost
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Released: 29th January 2015
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 304
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies, but it's nothing like she thought it would be, and it's slowly taking over her life. Claire's wild sister Sydney, still trying to leave her past behind, is about to combust with her desire for another new beginning. And Sydney's fifteen-year-old daughter Bay has given her heart away to the wrong boy and can't get it back.
I have never read anything by Sarah Addison Allen but her covers always strike me as beautiful and make you want to pick the book up. I believe this is a follow on from Garden Spells where her Waverley women books started. I'm really hoping this is a new author I get to try out this year.
So that I my pick from this week's releases, a real mixed bag. I have review copies for a couple of them so keep a look out for the review coming up. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Book Review - Mr Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Mr Miracle
Mr Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Published:  20th November 2014
Publisher: Cornerstone
Pages: 272
Available in paperback and on Kindle
Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help Addie Folsom to get her life back on track - and help her find love.

Creating a happy ending for Addie and her neighbour Erich doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. But soon after arriving in the town of Tacoma, Harry realises he might need some guidance. Addie and Erich can't stand each other; growing up he was popular and outgoing, while she was rebellious and headstrong. Addie would now rather avoid Erich entirely, especially at Christmas.

Harry is going to need all the help he can get, and a bit of divine inspiration, to help Addie and Erich find their Christmas miracle.
I was sent a copy of this to review via NetGalley and after reading Mrs Miracle by Debbie Macomber I was expecting this book to have that same warm and cosy Christmas magic. Sadly this book didn’t live up to my expectations and left me wanting more from the story.
Mr Miracle is Harry Mills, an angel-in-training sent to earth to help Addie Folsom and her classmates to overcome difficulties in their lives. Having not experienced human emotions before Harry initially believes this will be a breeze. He is told he must help Addie form a relationship with her childhood next door neighbour Erich Simmons, piece of cake thinks Harry until he realises Addie and Erich have hated each other for years. Addie had a secret crush on Erich back when he was best friends with her brother Jeremy but sadly Erich just teased Addie, causing her to hate him. After Erich has a car accident Addie is left to care for him as their windowed mothers have left to go on a cruise over Christmas. With Harry’s help can Addie and Erich ever find a way to get along?
I loved this sound of this book and was expecting a magical sort of romance occurring between Addie and Erich with a little help from “Mr Miracle” however I felt the changes in their relationship happened just too quickly, one minute the hate each other and the next day they are declaring love for each other, hardly realistic! The whole book felt like it was really rushed even though the plotline is very thin. This book is only 272 pages and I feel if it were slightly longer and included more on the minor characters it might have been better.
Harry for me came across as a little smug, thinking his mission was easy and wasn’t nearly as lovely as his counterpart Mrs Miracle. He was very easily led by French teacher Michelle and he was often getting into trouble with the campus principal for not complying with college regulations.
I was intrigued by the minor characters in this book and wish that there had been more about them. Especially Elaina the canteen worker, Brady the Janitor, Danny and Andrew and his guardian angel dog. Maybe other stories will focus on these characters?
This is a book which does have a little Christmas spirit in it, like the Christmas tree lights scene and I also liked the details about the “pot luck” party which Harry hosted for his class. Because of this I’m glad I read this book even though the characters were a little flat and the plotline rushed. Hopefully the next Debbie Macomber book I read will have more of her usual magic.
Rating 3/5

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Book Review - The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien

The King's Sister
The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien
Published: 1st November 2014
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 560
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men. In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted. But defiance can come at a price. 1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confident to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice. Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death. Sister. Wife. Traitor. She holds the fate of England in her hands.  
The King’s Sister tells the story of Elizabeth of Lancaster, sister to Henry IV. The story begins in 1380 in Elizabeth’s childhood home Kenilworth Castle on the day her marriage to the eight year old Duke of Pembroke is announced. Elizabeth is distraught with this news as he’s so much younger than her even though the match is politically a very strong one for her family. Elizabeth surrenders to her arranged marriage, until the day she meets John Holland, half-brother to King Richard and a man Elizabeth is instantly attracted to. They begin a love-hate relationship for a number of years until Elizabeth begs her father for an annulment to her marriage so she can marry her lover. Although she loves him deeply life with John Holland is not always an easy and happy one for Elizabeth, her husband has ambitions for himself alongside King Richard, which don’t always put his family first. As Elizabeth’s brother Henry gains favour for the crown Elizabeth has a difficult choice to make, betray her husband or her brother.

I have been a fan of historical fiction for a while but have tended to stick reading about the Tudors, mainly through the work of Philippa Gregory. The King’s Sister seemed the perfect book to discover a new historical fiction author and in Anne O’Brien I have found a wonderful writer. Her ability to create a realistic historically accurate and gripping read shows she has a real skill for storytelling in a period which has been well researched.

I really enjoyed reading The King’s Sister, I loved the romance that brewed between Elizabeth and John Holland over the years, starting so innocently and gradually became more passionate which I felt made the characters very real. Elizabeth was a really great character, she is determined and appears to have more guts than some men at the time. So has no problem barging in on political meetings if it means she’ll get her own way, which a lot of the time she does. She does come across as a little selfish, she decides she wants to end her marriage to the Duke of Pembroke, but she gives no consideration to how this will affect him, or indeed her father’s situation at court. When she decided to step in and make her betrayal, the choice she made must have been heart-breaking, knowing she was probably going to lose one of the men she loved, her husband or her brother.

The King’s Sister is a big book and not the easiest story to follow that I’ve ever read. I do think it is worth the time and effort though as it was an enjoyable read and one which gave me a real taste of life in England at that time. It’s a book I can see myself enjoying again in the future as I found Anne’s writing absorbing and I cannot wait to pick up her next book.
Thank to Mira for sending me a copy to review.

Rating 5/5

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get Round Too
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish who love list making an reading. Each week there is a different book related list to create and share with other bloggers and readers. This week the list was Top Ten Books from 2014 that you meant to read but just didn't quite manage too. For me this list could have been three times as long as were loads I really wanted to read. I've narrowed it down to the ones I've bought and not read yet or the ones I know I will be on the look out for this year.
What Would Mary Berry Do?
1. What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy
This was one of the first books that caught me eye after I started blogging and I have a copy waiting for me to read. I'm thinking this will be the book I take with me to hospital in March as I'll be able to enjoy it in one sitting.
The Proposal
2. The Proposal by Tasmina Perry
This was the first book I received for review from bookbridgr but for some reason I've just not read it, despite longing for it to come out in paperback. I think this is a case of I have so much expectation that I don't want to be disappointed so I'm savouring it.
The Snow Angel
3.The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor
This one I had a pre-order from practically the first day it was available but since it arrived I haven't had a chance to read it, definitely one to tackle soon as I just love Lulu's books.
One Night in Italy
4. One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond
I have a copy of this sitting on my shelf kindly lent to me from a friend, will have to read it soon as I'm sure she'll want it back. The cover is even more beautiful in real life!
The Woman Who Stole My Life
5. The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
I'm a huge Marian Keyes fan so really wanted to read this one, sadly I wasn't accepted to read the arc on Netgally and I'm not a huge hardback fan so will wait for a paperback copy to be published.
The Christmas Party
6. The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews
I have a copy of this which I never got round to read as I was hoping to start making a dent in books by Carole Matthews. Sadly I think this will be left on the shelf till next December but hopefully I make time to read a couple of others of hers which I have.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
7. It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi MacFarlane
This one had such a brilliant plot that I'm gutted I didn't manage to read it last year. Hopefully I be able to pick it up once I've waded through the review books I have.
Shopaholic to the Stars
8. Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
I'm super excited there is another "Shopaholic" book out there, I've yet to pick this up but will be top of my list in paperback in March.
It Started With Paris
9. It Started With Paris by Cathy Kelly
I loved the sound of this when it was released back in Octoberr, sadly so many other great books came out at the same time that I forgot about it. As I've recently become engaged myself I'm keen to read this as my family has gone a little crazy itself.
The Dead Wife's Handbook
10. The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman
Everyone that read this seems to have loved it and it does sound so good, its definitely on my list of books to look out for this year.
So that is my list of the books I missed from last year. Did you read any of these? Which would you recommend I go back and pick up first? What is on your missed list from 2014.
To see the master list of this weeks links, click here.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Book Review - The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

The Year of Taking Chances
The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond
Published: 1st January 2015
Publisher: Pan
Pages: 454
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
It's New Year's Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There's music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It's going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum's house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who's keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma's dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the following months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home - all the things they've taken for granted - are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?
Having discovered and enjoyed Lucy Diamond’s books last year I was eager to read something else by her and The Year of Taking Chances seemed the perfect book being as we’re starting a new year. The Year of Taking Chances is based on the lives of Gemma, Caitlin and Saffron who all meet at Gemma’s New Year’s Eve party. The three instantly bond and agree to make the following year the best they’ve ever had, little do they know it’s a year that’s really going to test each of them.
I instantly warmed to all three of these women and was drawn into their story so much that the rest of the world just passed me by until I was finished. These are real women who have to deal with real issues and I loved how much I could relate to them and longed to be part of their little group.
Gemma is a stay at home mum and is beginning to question what to do with the rest of her live now her kids are both at school and see her as “just a mum”, she’s wanting to be more but not sure how to fit it in around her family. I can totally relate to Gemma in this situation as I’m sure many mothers do, we long to be home for our children but also long to belong back in the adult world of work and it’s not easy to find a balance. When Gemma’s world is turned upside down she takes a chance and follows a lifelong dream, but can she manage to keep her family together as well.
Caitlin is returning to her childhood home to pack up the house after the death of her beloved  mother, stuck in a rut with her career and single again after finding her boyfriend with her best friend she’s feeling alone and vulnerable and craving the life she lost. As she begins to pack up the house she begins to uncover a secret which has been hidden for years and her which turns her even more upside down.
Saffron has escaped her London flat to think about her future, escape from PR nightmare Bunty and work out exactly what she’s going to do about her big secret which will more than likely tear her sisters heart to shreds.
Although I loved all three of these women I think my favourite character was Bunty, I just loved the way that she changed from being an over bearing nightmare to an actually quite kind hearted and likable woman. I think her confrontation with Saffron was probably one of my favourite parts of the books as I felt it was a huge turning point for both of these characters, Saffron became stronger willed and more determined and Bunty softened and became less irritating.
The Year of Taking Chances is a book with many themes including friendship, marriage, heartbreak, hidden secrets, pregnancy, careers, lack of money, it’s about the real life dramas we all face, about releasing how lucky you are and that only you can really go out there and get the life you want, all you have to do is take a chance.
I adored this book and was gutted when I’d finished, which wasn’t long as I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of the few books I’ve read where I loved all the characters, even Gemma’s horrible mother! It’s the perfect book to start off the New Year and fans of Lucy Diamond will adore it, I know I did.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Little Update

Hello and Happy New Year Everyone,

The last month has been an emotional rollercoaster for me and although I have read quite a few books I've not had chance to write the reviews for them, hence the lack of posts. After visiting he hospital on the 18th December I didn't get the news I was hoping for and it looks like I'm going to need two operations to fix my heart, one of which is very complicated so the doctors don't really want to do it until absolutely necessary.

So I was feeling a little down just before Christmas, which is usually my happiest time of year, but my wonderful boyfriend made it perfect on Christmas day by asking me to marry him, which made my year! So we've been super busy looking at wedding things for the past fortnight, but I've calmed down a little now school has started and the early mornings are back with us.

I have read some amazing books over the last month and am hoping to catch up with my reviews this weekend, so come Monday the blog will have something new for you to look at. If your looking to pick up something to read then here is a list of what I've and thought was really good over the last month:

An Irish Promise by Isabella Conner
You Think You Know Me by Claire Chase
The Kings Sister by Anne 'Brien
The Year of Taking Chance by Lucy Diamond
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
and I've just finished The Life I Left Behind by Colette McBeth which was incredible!

So that's all now, I'll be back Monday with a review of The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

Joanne x