Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Blog Tour: The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry : My Life in Books an exclusive by Tasmina Perry


The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry
Published: 25th August 2016
Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 400
Available in Hardback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5


Today I'd like to welcome one on my favourite authors onto my blog as part of the tour for The House on Sunset Lake, so welcome Tasmina Perry. Today she is going to share with us her Life in Books, so over to you Tasmina:

My Life in Books 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
I had quite bad asthma when I was little and whenever I had an attack I always used to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to help me take my mind off it. It wasn’t just my favourite novel – I thought it was the ultimate escapist read – after all, what can be more escapist that getting whisked off by a tornado to the land of Oz!
Lace – Shirley Conran
Lace was and still is one of my all-time favourite reads. I first read it when I was about sixteen and I couldn’t believe how delicious it was; the Swiss boarding school, Judy’s magazine career, Maxine’s life in the chateau. It was so glamorous and so scandalous – I thought I was very grown-up sneak-reading all the naughty bits! I ended up working in magazines myself and I don’t doubt it was part influenced by Lace!

A Woman of Substance - Barbara Taylor Bradford
Growing up in Manchester and yearning for a life in London, New York or other such places that only seem to exist in the pages of a novel or Cosmopolitan magazine, I loved the rags-to-riches story of Emma Hart.
My mum actually took me to see Barbara give a talk at Waterstone’s in Manchester, I remember her coming in in a cloud of perfume and saying how she was just an ordinary girl from Leeds who went on to be a bestselling author. She inspired me – and made me think ‘I can do that’.
It still gives me a little thrill every time I go on Lovereading.co.uk and it says ‘if you like Tasmina Perry you might also like Barbara Taylor Bradford and Shirley Conran’. The teenage me would find that absolutely unbelievable.

I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
Probably my all-time favourite novel and Cassandra Mortmain is just the best narrator ever. Eccentric, charming and wise, it’s the ultimate coming of age story and I re-read it at least once a year. (Valerie Groves’ biography of Dodie Smith is excellent too.)

Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan
I had a little spell from about the age of 17 to 19 when I was obsessed with anything French. I used to frequent my local art house cinema to watch whatever French movie was showing, and used to try and style my hair (unsuccessfully) like Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue.  I liked reading translations of French books and discovered Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. I still think it’s an amazing work of fiction. Dark, powerful and glamorous and it can’t be more than 40,000 words long.

The World According to Garp – John Irving
I was a huge reader in my late teens – I read anything and everything. Lots of good fiction, prize winning fiction probably to show off to sexy, arty boys. But my favourite ‘classic’ read was John Irving’s famous novel. I remember going to rent the movie from the video shop – I loved that too.

Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
Browsing a bookshop in Covent Garden one lunchtime, I discovered this in the new hardbacks section. I hadn’t heard any hype about it, or even read the columns in the Telegraph but I was in my mid-twenties, single, a girl about town in London, and it sounded like my kind of book. I bought it immediately, read it in one chunk and then told all my friends about it. It’s such a familiar and copied story now but at the time it was such fresh, funny, groundbreaking writing.

The Common Years – Jilly Cooper
Everyone loves Jilly Cooper’s novels, but her non-fiction is wonderful too. She is such a heroine of mine and when I got my first book deal my husband got in touch with her to tell her so. She sent me a copy of her book The Common Years with a lovely little congratulatory note, which only made me love her more! 

Blurb
Casa D'Or, the mysterious plantation house on Sunset Lake, has been in the Wyatt family for over fifty years. Jennifer Wyatt returns there from university full of hope, as summer by the lake stretches ahead of her. Yet by the time it is over her heart will be broken, her family in tatters, her dreams long gone.
Twenty years later, Casa D'Or stands neglected, a victim of tragic events. Jennifer has closed the door on her past. Then Jim, the man she met and fell in love with that magical summer, comes back into her life, with a plan to return Casa D'Or to its former glory. Their reunion will stir up old ghosts for both of them, and reveal the dark secrets the house still holds close...

Review

Tasmina Perry is one of my favourite authors and I look forward to all her new books, this was no exception. The cover alone made me want to dive in and devour this book, it’s beautiful especially with the copper foiling. This book promised so much and although it’s not my favourite Tasmina novel I do feel it delivered a wonderful read.

It’s 1995 and Jim Johnson has been persuaded to spend the summer with his parents at a lake house in Savannah, Georgia. The lake house looks across at the magnificent house of Casa D’or where Jim meets Jennifer Wyatt and suddenly a summer in Georgia doesn’t seem so bad after all. After a long hot summer spent together a tragic turn of events means the pair are separated.

Fast forward twenty years and Jim is now a hotel developer to the Omari hotel group, owned by Simon Desai. When Simon expresses an interest in buying Casa D’or Jim is forced to return to the house to do the deal, which is turn brings him back into the life of Jennifer Wyatt the girl who has held his heart for twenty years. But as Jim begins to uncover hidden secrets from all those years ago can his feelings for Jennifer remain true and can love really ever have a second chance?

This does feel like a very clich├ęd romance between the spoilt rich girl and the wannabe rock star boy next door but it has been brought to life by Tasmina Perry’s wonderful writing style. Jennifer does seem to be a girl who knows exactly how to get what she wants and I had to question whether she really had true feelings for Jim or was just using him because she was bored over the summer and wanted a new admirer. Jim appeared to idolize Jennifer almost instantly, but maybe the reality of her wasn’t enough for him as he never seems to take their relationship out of the comfort zone.

When they finally did get it together I was expecting them to be inseparable and totally consumed with the passion that they been holding back all summer, instead they both acted a little flat and too easily let go of what they could have had using the tragic events as a kind of excuse. When the secrets are revealed later on you can understand why Jennifer acted the way she did, but I wanted more fight out of Jim.

Tasmina’s previous novel The Last Kiss Goodbye was my favourite of her previous novels simply because the romance in it was so beautifully prefect and ultimately heart-breaking. I was hoping that The House on Sunset Lake would be like this and at the beginning I felt it was going in that direction but the beautiful romance I was longing for was missing.  I do feel that this book seems to me more like her earlier novels where the characters are shallower and more focused on getting what they want.

Despite not being everything I was hoping that it would be The House on Sunset Lake is still a brilliant read with some interesting characters, a little mystery and a truly beautiful setting. It’s a novel about being true to yourself, about learning to let go of the guilt and about whether it’s possible to give love a second chance.

Thank you so much to Headline for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and also for sending me a copy to review.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Blog Tour Review: Kill Me Twice by Anna Smith

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28196806-kill-me-twice?from_search=true

Kill Me Twice by Anna Smith
Published: 25th August 2016
Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 300
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
A beautiful model's death uncovers an ugly conspiracy stretching all the way to Westminster in Rosie Gilmour's darkest case to date.
When rags-to-riches Scots supermodel Bella Mason plunges to her death from the roof of a glitzy Madrid hotel, everyone assumes it was suicide. Except that one person saw exactly what happened to Bella that night, and she definitely didn't jump. But Millie Chambers has no one she can tell - alcoholic, depressed herself and now sectioned by her bullying politician husband, who would believe her? And that's not all Millie knows. Being close to the heart of Westminster power can lead to discovering some awful secrets...
Back in Glasgow, Rosie's research into Bella's life leads to her brother, separated from her in care years before. Dan is now a homeless heroin addict and rent boy, but what he reveals about Bella's early life is electrifying: organised sexual abuse in care homes across Glasgow. Bella had tracked him down so that they could tell the world their story. And now she's dead.
As Rosie's drive to expose the truth leads her closer to Millie and the shameful secrets she has kept for so many years, it becomes clear that what she's about to discover could prove fatal: a web of sexual abuse linking powerful figures across the nation, and the rot at the very heart of the British Establishment...

Review

Kill Me Twice by Anna Smith is the seventh book in the Rosie Gilmour series and is actually the first one I’ve read, but I feel it could easily be read as a standalone. I’m definitely planning on going back and reading the rest of the series as Anna Smith’s writing is intense and gripping and it had me hooked from the start and I want to read more.

In the book Rosie has been sent to Madrid to report on the apparent suicide of famous model Bella Mason but while she’s there she gets a tip-off that someone witnessed what happened to Bella and it wasn’t suicide.  That someone was Millie Chambers, a woman who is full of despair, verging on alcoholism, with nothing to lose since her marriage to ex tory MP Colin Chambers fell apart. Millie goes on the run but bad luck means Colin catches up with her and has her locked away as the secret of Bella’s death is not the only thing that Millie knows.

On returning to Glasgow Rosie unearths Dan Mason, Bella’s long lost brother living on the streets among the Glasgow junkies and Dan has his own secrets about Bella’s life that someone is trying to keep hidden. Can Rosie expose the hidden stories before it’s too late and someone gets hurt?

Kill Me Twice was a very addictive read with a plot that quickly develops several strands all which Rosie must piece together to get her story. I found it a very fast paced read where there was always something being added to the story without any filler chapters being included, which made great reading.

I really enjoyed the main character Rosie, she initially comes across as tough and hard-nosed but I loved that as the story developed we could see a softer side to her, especially with Dan and that she was actually a quite an emotional character. I also enjoyed the glimpses of her personal life we are given and would love to have read the series from the start to see how she has developed as a character.

This is a novel which touches on some quite deep issues such as drug addictions, alcoholism, child abuse and political cover-ups. At times I found I did grimace at some of the scenes as the writing felt so realistic and very detailed but I think that’s is to be expected with this kind of novel.

Overall I thought this was a great read and one which I can highly recommend and I’m eager for January when the series continues.

Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me this copy to review and also for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Colouring Book Review: Summer Blossoms by Christopher Mark Stokes


Summer Blossom by Christopher Mark Stokes
Published: 25th April 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Images to Colour: 24
Rating: 2/5

After becoming hooked on colouring I have been looking for a book which has some floral images but were not quite as detailed as the Johanna Basford books which I own, Summer Blossom by Christopher Mark Stokes seemed to fit that as the images are based on summer florals and looking at the cover I was drawn to this book.
Sadly I feel that the paper and printing quality let this book down. The paper is very thin, similar to everyday copier paper. The images themselves also look like they’ve been printer on a home printer as some images seem to be very pixelated and have that “photocopied” look to them. Although the images are lovely I do feel that they have too many repeating elements, possibly due to been drawn via computer, but only guessing at that.  The grass for example in most of the pictures is exactly the same as it has been copied and pasted onto the next image.
There are twenty-four images in total, a mixtures of summer garden images, patterns and close up flowers all with a slightly whimsical look to them. I have enjoyed the images I have coloured so far and feel they make excellent images for practicing blending and shading techniques which is what I was looking for. Here are some of my favourite images:


     


I have used a mixture of coloured pencil brands and all have worked alright, not sure how the paper would take many layers of built up colour though as its quite thin. Although I have not used them to colour a full picture yet I have tested out the Staedtler fibre tips and the Staedtler Triplus fine-liners at the back and they have bled through slightly, so I probably would only use pencils with this book. Here's an image which I have finished which I coloured with Prismacolour pencils.




Friday, 12 August 2016

Blog Tour: Blood Sister, Q & A with Dreda Say Mitchell and Review

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28943404-blood-sister?from_search=true

Blood Sister by Dreda Say Mitchell
Published: 11th August 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 458
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Today it's my stop on the Blood Sister tour and I'd like to welcome Dreda and thank her for taking time to answer a few of my questions:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a writer?
I’m an east End girl who grew up on a Council estate. My family came over to Britain from the Caribbean island of Grenada in the 1960s. I was a chambermaid and waitress before realizing my dream of becoming a teacher. I got the writing bug from coming from a family who loved telling stories and I visiting Whitechapel Library as a child. It was years later that I decided to write my first book about a character that wanted to get out of the underworld. The East End was in my blood, so I decided to write about it.
Blood Sister is part of a new trilogy, how does it differ from your previous book
It’s similar and different to my past books. My Gangland Girl series is set in East London’s badlands, but they are very much very fast paced thrillers whereas my new Flesh and Blood Trilogy still thrills, but it spends more time getting to know the characters lives and relationships. Then I went on to write a series of thrillers about a black, female cop – I adore DI Rio Wray – which are fast paced, but also police procedurals.
Can you sum up Blood Sister in one sentence?
Women behaving very badly!
 What was your inspiration for writing Blood Sister?
I was inspired by the strong and independent women I knew and grew up with on the East London housing estate I lived on. My estate was filled with people who just wanted to make a good life for themselves and their families but there was also a lot of ducking and diving going on and it’s that which interests me. So Blood Sister, the first in the Flesh and Blood Trilogy, is about two sisters, who want to get off their estate, but they both try to do it in different ways. Jen wants to settle down with the perfect man and Tiff wants the good life of the criminal underworld. And then they meet a tough and ruthless woman called Dee…That’s when the crime hits the fan!

Jen, Tiffany and Dee are all strong women, which was your favourite character in the book and why?
I can’t help but love a bad girl, so it’s Dee. She so fierce and determined to rise to the top of the criminal world, but at the same time she’s generous and so vulnerable because of her childhood. A big thing for me is writing about flawed and troubled characters because I think that reflects much of the world I see around me. 
How did you want readers to feel after reading Blood Sister?
Super excited and rearing to read the next book in the trilogy. I want my readers to feel entertained, engaged with the characters, shocked at the twists and turns, but also hope it gets readers reflecting on their own lives.
What can we expect to see from you next?
The next book in the trilogy, Blood Mother, which is out February 2017 and then the last installment, Blood Daughter, out later that year. Blood Mother takes the story right back to 1972.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Lee Child, Martina Cole, Gillian Flynn and Alice Walker.
Which three books have you enjoyed reading the most so far this year?
Darktown by Thomas Mullen. This hasn’t come out here yet so I was honoured to get a sneak peek.
The unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan.
The last two are gripping books by debut authors. Must reads!

How do you intend to celebrate publication day?
Chillin’ out! And spreading the word.

Describe your writing process?
I’m a plotter so I spend a good amount of time plotting before committing to the page and shape who my lead characters are. This means that I don’t face the blank page syndrome when I start writing.
I also have a very structured writing page, so I’m an early bird and will keep writing, usually two scenes, which is around 3,000 words. This means I can write a novel pretty quickly.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to pursue a writing career?
Go for it! I started mine when I was well into my thirties after working in education for many years; so it’s never too late. I joined a writing group, so this may be the way to kickstart your career. Or you may the Lone Ranger type who prefers to do it alone. Whatever you decide, do it now!

Quick fire questions:
Tea of Coffee? Herbal tea. Love Matcha green tea
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet, but no gluten please!
Cosy fires or summer sun? Both.
High heel or flats? Flats
Drive or be driven? Driven, in more ways than one.

Blurb
There are two ways out of Essex Lane Estate, better known as The Devil. You make good, or you turn bad.
Jen Miller is determined not to make the same mistakes her mother did. She's waiting to find herself a good job and a decent man.
Her younger sister Tiff is running errands for a gangster and looking for any opportunity for fun and profit. But she might just be in over her head...
The choices you make and the plans you have don't always turn out like you expect. Especially if you live on The Devil's Estate. When their paths cross with the unstoppable Dee - a woman with her own agenda - Jen and Tiff will learn that lesson the hard way.
At least they can rely on each other.
Can't they?

Review
Blood Sister is the first book in Dreda Say Mitchell’s new trilogy Flesh and Blood which follows one family from the Essex Lane Estate over forty years. This was the first book that I’ve read by Dreda Say Mitchell and I’m hooked already on her writing and cannot wait till Blood Mother is out next year.

Blood Sister focuses on the Miller sister Jen and Tiffany.  Jennifer is studying at art collage and longs to be a fashion designer and make it out of Devil’s Estate where they live, hopefully on the arm of her prince charming. Tiffany at sixteen is a bored teenager who goes looking for trouble to get her kicks, this time she’s taken on the job as a run around for a big-time gangster and it’s not long before Tiff realises she might be in deeper than she can handle.

Across town Dee Clark is working on making herself indispensable to John Black, nightclub owner and hot shot gangster on the verge of making it big. Dee is a woman who gets what she wants and this time she wants a ring on her finger and a massive fortune to go with it and she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

When these three find themselves mixed up with the wrong kind of men will they be able to get out without any bloodshed and will their lives lead them down the path towards their dreams?

Blood Sister is a novel which is based on the criminal underworld of East End London, something I don’t really know much about so I found it enthralling at times. The novel is split into two parts the first in 1993, the second ten years later in 2003. Honestly I found the first half of this novel much more intense as it dealt with the criminal comings and goings based around The Alley Club and John Black’s gangster ring, the second half of the book I didn’t find as believable but I did enjoy the twist at the end.

I loved that the stronger characters in this novel were the women and I found all three women interesting in their own ways. I liked Jen because she was determined to better herself and wasn’t going to settle for any old man to take her out. I did feel she was a little naive in certain situations and not quite as savvy as she would like people to believe. I liked Dee because she was scary and wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone. I did feel she was strong enough to make her dreams come true on her own without the need for a man to provide for her, but maybe she just wanted to be loved. Tiffany was definitely my favourite character and I love how she changed over the course of the novel from a whiny teenager thinking she knows it all to someone who works hard for her dreams and knows how to make them happen on her own, even if it means not be completely honest all the time.

Blood Sister is a gripping and at times a violent novel which had me hooked from the start. I really enjoyed that there was a focus on the home lives of Jen and Tiff as for me it made the story more real. I’m looking forward to reading Blood Mother as I’m hoping it will tell us more about why the Millers and the Ingrams don’t get on.

If you’re a fan of Dreda’s previous novels then I’m sure you will this new book and if like me your new to her writing I’m convinced you will enjoy this as it was full of twists and turns right from the start and like me will be eagerly awaiting the next book.

Thank you so much to Hodder for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sending me a copy to review.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Blog Tour: The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29744756-the-sunflower-cottage-breakfast-club?ac=1&from_search=true

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James
Published: 1st August 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: 218
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
Emily Reed is having a bad day. Devastated at losing her hard-earned promotion to the ditz who’s sleeping with the boss, her mother drops a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father.

Now Emily needs answers and a month in Luna Bay should give her the time she needs to find her father, and land the difficult client at the Sunflower Cottage B&B which should put her back in the running for her coveted promotion.

Setting up the Sunflower Cottage breakfast club should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is! The only problem is that brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Finding out the truth was never going to be simple, but she never thought her heart would get in the way…

Review
The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club is the second book in Lynsey James’ Luna Bay series, although it can also be read as a standalone novel.
Emily Reed, Business Development Manager for Walter Marshall Hotels has gone from having her life all sorted to being completely lost, after twenty five years her mum has just dropped the bombshell that her loving dad Simon is not her biological father. Her biological father is actually a man named Brian who her mother had a fling with shortly after she was married in the little Yorkshire town of Luna Bay.
To make things worse she’s just been beaten to a promotion by Tara, who seems a little too friendly with their boss Paul. Needing a break and longing to go find out more about her father Emily asks for time off, Paul strikes a bargain with her she has a month to visit Luna Bay and find some answers but while she’s there Emily must get the Sunflower Cottage Bed & Breakfast to sign itself over to Walter Marshall and then she can have her longed for promotion.
Simple, except Emily makes a bad first impression on Mr Grumpy himself Noah Hartley. This wouldn’t be so bad except Noah is very close to The Sunflower Cottages owner Rose and Noah is determined that Rose won’t sell up. After an accident puts Rose out of action for a few days Emily agrees to help Noah run the B & B and to set up his “breakfast club” as a way to keep herself busy and try to subtly find out more about Brian.
After a number of mishaps, misunderstandings and a little heartbreak it’s finally time for Emily to head back to Glasgow, but something’s happened that Emily wasn’t expecting she’s fallen in love…can she really turn her back on Luna Bay now it’s in her heart?
Just like Lynsey’s first Luna bay book I adored this book, it’s an easy enjoyable read and one which is full of emotions, drama and some hilarious scenes. I think the thing that has made Lynsey’s writing standout to me is the characters, she has written some brilliant ones which I can so easily imagine. One of my favourites being Emily’s mum, I just loved her little pep talks with Emily and the scenes where she’s helping Emily cook the breakfasts are some of my favourite in the book.  Talking of breakfasts, I really want one of Noah’s New Yorker breakfasts as it sounded delicious!
I thought Emily was a great main character and had an ah-ha moment when I realised she had been mentioned in book one. I also have my suspicions as to who will be the main character in book three and fingers crossed I’m right because I’m dying to know more about that person.  Anyway back to  Emily, I loved the journey she went on in this book starting out being the uptight, health conscious business woman to the relaxed Emily who goes after what she wants rather than what is expected of her. The sparks that flew between her and Noah were wonderful and I loved reading how their relationship changed.
I also loved that other previous characters were mentioned, it was lovely to check in with Lucy and Jake and see how they were doing. I was a little sad that Elle and George were not in the book as there were character I loved from the first book.
I enjoyed reading The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club while I was on holiday and found it to be the perfect holiday read as its light-hearted and fun and Luna Bay reminded me of one of my favourite places Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.  I’m so looking forward to more of Lynsey’s wonderful story-telling in Luna Bay book three.
Thank you to the Lynsey, the publishers and Neverland Blog Tours for the review copy and for allowing me to be part of the blog tour.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Blog Tour Review: Don't You Forget About Me by Liz Tipping


Don't You Forget About Me

Don't You Forget About Me by Liz Tipping
Published: 6th June 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Available on Kindle
Order now from Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Blurb
An athlete, a princess, a brain, a criminal, a basket case…

Cara Dunham is definitely one of them. But stuck in her small hometown, with no prospects of escape, she's struggling to find her thing. Her life is more book club than Breakfast Club and there is no Judd Nelson in sight!

So when Cara is invited to a school reunion she knows this is her chance to channel her inner Molly Ringwald and grab her John Hughes moment, once and for all. Because her teenage love, Daniel Rose will be there, the coolest boy at school and the one that got away.

But transforming into an 80's icon isn't easy and Cara enlists the help of her oldest friend, Stubbs, to teach her all she needs to know about being cool and quirky – a la Ringwald.

Except Stubbs thinks she’s perfect, just as she is and takes it upon himself to show Cara that her life might not be ‘movie perfect’, but there is always another take to get things right. And maybe the hero she's dreamed of has been under her nose the whole time…

Review
Cara Dunham is feeling lost, she’s being stuck doing the same job for years, she’s waiting to find her dream man and her purpose in life. So when she gets the chance to go to her school reunion she decides to channel her inner Molly Ringwald and find out who she really is an athlete, a princess, a brain, a criminal, or a basket case so she can finally have her perfect moment with her teenage crush Daniel Rose, who is back in town.
Cara enlists friend Stubbs to help her find out who she really is and in exchange she will help him land a date with his dream girl April. So begins so very comical moments as Cara works her way through the roles.  Alongside this madcap scheme to find herself Cara also needs to find a way to save the local video shop where she works and where she relives her eighties fantasies on a daily basis.
I felt an instant connection to Cara whose trying to decide which character from the eighties films of John Hughes she should become. Having spent her school days just wanting to belong and find out who she is, is something I can identify with greatly. I loved she suddenly has these moments throughout the book like lightning bolts where things suddenly hit her and start to make sense.  I think a lot of readers may find Cara an annoying character as she does take being insecure with herself to a whole new level but I found her quite endearing and wanted her to find her happy ending.
Cara’s friends make other great characters. I loved the used of surnames for Stubbs’ and Divvy which seemed to emphasize that Cara still felt she was a teenager waiting to grow up. I loved Verity, she reminded me of myself, loving my kids but desperately needing to get out and be with the grown-ups sometimes.
This is the second book I’ve read this year that has referenced teenage films from the 80s, particularly The Breakfast Club, which I haven’t seen so a few of the references mentioned regarding the film didn’t make sense to me. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book however as I still loved Cara and her madcap scheme to find herself.
Can Cara find herself before she meets back up with Daniel? Will Stubbs land his dream date? Will Cara save the video shop? Don’t You Forget About Me is an easy light-hearted read full of comical moments which had me laughing all the way through. It is predictable from quite early one who will end with who and what the secrets are, but I still enjoyed it and think it would make a good beach read where you just wanting something entertaining.
Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for this copy to review in exchange for honest opinions.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Colouring Book Review: The Aviary by Claire Scully and Richard Merritt


The Aviary: Bird Portraits to Colour
by Claire Scully & Richard Merritt
Published: 2nd June 2016
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books
Images to Colour: 31
Rating:  5/5

Having recently joined the adult colouring craze I was super excited when I was given a chance to review this book for the publishers. I’ve bought a few of the more well-known adult colouring books but I’ve felt a little intimidated by the amazing artwork I’ve seen people do with these books, so they’ve just sat on my shelf.  For me The Aviary is different I instantly found it an accessible book and dived straight in with colouring the many detailed areas. It’s a book where there is enough detail in the drawing that the images look stunning without blending and shading, which really appealed to me as a beginner. There is potential to blend and shade though if that is your thing as you could just work over a larger area or add a background in.
It measures 29cm square so is slighter larger than most colouring books available. This maybe does make it a less portable choice but this book has gone on a recent holiday with me and was not cumbersome to pack or carry around. The book itself has thirty-one bird images to colour on a good weight of bright white paper, all single sided which means using markers is possible. The images themselves are quite detailed but not so much that you don’t know where to start. They do take a while to colour but I’ve enjoyed the hours I’ve spent with this book greatly and look forward to many more hours with it.  I love that the images themselves have hints of backgrounds and colours which you can add to or leave blank. I found the suggested colour schemes helpful when I wasn’t sure where to start.
I love the mixture of bird designs in the book some are looking straight at you, some are looking to the side, some are further away in flight and some are in pairs. My personal favourites are the penguin, the peacock, the ostrich and the mallard ducks. There is sure to be an image that appeals to most people.



I have predominantly used the Marco Raffine pencils to colour this books which have worked well and have also started to use the triplus fineliners from Staedtler and these have not bled through the pages. Here is one of my completed pictures:




The Avairy is the sequel book to The Menagerie by the same authors which features animal portraits and is soon to be joined by The Aquarium, both of which are now on my growing colouring book wish list.
I think The Aviary is an excellent quality colouring book which will provide hours of fun and relaxation for whoever buys it, I know my copy will be enjoyed for many months while I complete the images.
Thank you so much to the publishers Michael O’Mara for sending me a copy to review in exchange for my honest opinions.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James

The Broken Hearts Book Club

The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James
Published: 12th October 2015
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: 242
Available on Kindle
Rating 4/5

Blurb
Secrets never stay buried for long…
Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…
Luna Bay hasn't changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!
Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also 'The Broken Hearts Book Club', Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can't wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.
One way or another, Lucy must finally face the past she left behind – or spend the rest of her life on the run…

Review
The Broken Hearts Book Club is the first book in the new Luna Bay series by Lynsey James and is actually the first book of hers that I have read. Full of things I love books, romance and a gorgeous Yorkshire village I was sure I was going to love this and I did.
Lucy Harper has just returned to Luna Bay for her Nana Lily’s funeral after keeping away in London for eight years. Lucy feels very uneasy about being back in Luna Bay as the tragedy of what happened years ago still haunts her and is something of a mystery to reader until well into the second half of the book.
She was hoping to just head back to London and leave the past behind for good, but her Nana Lily has had other ideas. She has left Lucy her beautiful cottage by the sea, which is hers to keep providing she lives in the cottage and takes over the running of the Broken Hearts Book Club for three months. Lucy loved Rose Cottage as a child so is torn in two as she really doesn’t want to stay in Luna Bay, but intrigue into her Nana’s special book club and a very dishy barman are just enough reasons to get Lucy to stay instead of scurrying back to the safety and anonymity of London.
Life back in Luna Bay isn’t quite as easy as Lucy imagined, determined to help the members of The Broken Hearts Book Club doesn’t quite go to plan and makes for some very funny moments as Lucy tries to fix all the messes she makes. There’s also still some hostility from certain members of the village which Lucy is scared to face up to.
Lucy was a wonderful main character, she tries so hard to please everybody that she doesn’t always completely think things through, which leads to some misunderstandings, but you could tell she really did begin to care about making the members of the book club happy and that she just wanted the best for everybody. I also loved many of the other characters including Elle, George and Jake and I even warmed to Diane towards the end.
I did feel that the mystery of what happened to the past did overtake the story a little as it’s hinted at so frequently. I was reading fairly fast through this book as I wanted to find out what the big mystery was and to be honest I was a little disappointed when I found out what it was. I did however settle into the book more and really enjoyed the last few chapters at a more leisurely pace.
I also really enjoyed the romance that builds up between Jake and Lucy and loved reading how their relationship developed as it felt very real and also didn’t overpower the book.
Overall I found The Broken Hearts Book Club to be an enjoyable read with some lovely characters, in a beautiful setting, yes I want to go to Luna Bay myself. It’s a story with mystery, with romance and with the message that it’s okay to forgive yourself and leave your heartbreak behind.
I’m glad there is a second Luna Bay book out now as I’m eager to dive back into Luna Bay and all its lovely characters.
Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to review.