Thursday, 31 December 2015

December's Reading

All of the books read in December were for review with either the review being forthcoming or the review is already on here.

I don't think there's a chance I will finish reading the two books I'm currently reading before midnight so I'm going to take a chance and publish my December reading before the month is out - I know, very controversial.

Books read in December

Learning to Speak America - Colette Dartford
This is a book about finding hope after a great loss. Lola and Duncan decide to buy a house in the Napa Valley which holds the potential to soothe their grief. You can read my review here. Colette also stopped by and took part in the Imaginary Bookshop Q&A.

American Housewife - Helen Ellis
This short story collection about the dark side of being a housewife is addictive, and full of dark humour. Put aside an afternoon to read this one as you won't be able to put it down. This book is out in 2016 so my review will be forthcoming.

Not That Easy - Radhika Sanghani
This book will have you laughing and cringing. Elli's antics as she stumbles through her journey towards love is hilarious. You can read my review here.

What We Left Behind - Robin Talley
Gretchen and Toni are 'the' couple at high school but things start to go wrong as they head to different cities for college. Can this relationship survive the ups and downs of college and being apart? My review is forthcoming and should be appearing in the next week or so.

Come back tomorrow for my top reads of 2015. See you in 2016!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Christmas Card Captions

I have been thinking about getting into the Christmas card caption industry because it is easier than having to write 80k of words to form a novel.

Yes, I'm procrastinating. Yes, I should be redrafting my novel. Yes, this is more fun.

"Yummy, yummy, I'm going to eat you all," said Frosty

Little donkey, little donkey, would you like cat flu?

I couldn't find the litter tray

Wearing Xmas jumpers during sex is our way of spicing up our lives!

Put on another jumper because I'm there's no fucking way the heating is going on

This snow will melt and flood the park. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

So Christmas is nearly upon us...

So Christmas is nearly upon us...

It’s a time for celebration, cheer and festivities. It’s a time to reflect, appreciate our lives, give to those who are less fortunate and to forgive where possible.

Thank you for all of the likes, comments and messages this year with regards to my blog. I nearly shut it done earlier this year but your support keeps me going. I’ll see you the other side with more reviews, writing updates and guest posts plus my books of the year.

Now, here’s a call to arms – it’s time to spread some goodness and love…

This year hasn’t been the greatest year so I think we need to turn things round a week before the year ends. I’m not asking for a Disney style ending but that we take the time to appreciate the people in our lives, and maybe reach out to those who aren’t in our lives (and maybe they should). Love is more powerful and stronger than hate so lets finish the year with a bit of cheer.

It’s time to tell people that you love them and you care.

Take a second to think about what the world would be if that person didn’t exist or wasn’t in your life – if it brings tears to your eyes then you need to do something about it. I know we can show it with a present or two but sometimes a hug and telling someone you care is worth more. Tell that person(s) either in email, text, WhatsApp but it would be even better face to face. Face the fear, and tell that person you care. Don’t lose them. Do it before it’s too late. Don’t let the person(s) or animal walk out of your life without saying those words. Hugs, and being there for each other can go a long way. Hug your cat, squeeze your sister, give a kiss to the kids, smile to the neighbours.

What if the person you is the love of your life - who could walk away from that potential – a daft person that’s who – don’t be that person. Lets spread some cheer and love – lets not spend the last few days of 2015 hating each other or not appreciating the good things we have in life lets take this time to understand and acknowledge each other.

…and if that doesn’t work then buy the people you love a book!

And if you don't have anyone to love then there's the hope of falling in love with someone/book/film/pet/future plans/friends/family.

Have you noticed how many Christmas songs are actually quite sad but those cheeky sound engineers mix in jingle bells so we glaze over the lyrics. Here’s my favourite Christmas song, a cover of Wham’s Last Christmas by The XX. I love this song so much that I listen to it throughout the year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Book Review: Not That Easy

Not That Easy
Radhika Sanghani
Published by Mills & Boons
Available in paperback and ebook

Looking for something to make you laugh then Radhika Sanghani's second novel, Not That Easy, is the book for you.

Ellie is a twenty-something living in a flatshare in London while interning at a London magazine who embarks on a laugh out loud adventure into the world of online dating. This is a warts and all journey - Ellie needs to get past men nose-bleeding while snogging, being bitten on the neck, and flashy bankers. Ellie is a naive character who at times you want to shake her shoulders but also to hug at the same time.

This is a book looking at the issues facing young women in love, sex, friendships, family and work. The push and pull of all of these in this comedy will keep the you entertained.

But this book also has a serious side too. The pressures of society on Ellie to live up to expectation make you want to shout at her. She cares too much about what she 'should' be doing as dictated by society rather that what she really wants. At times the situations that Ellie gets herself into will make you cringe.

The power of friendship keeps Ellie grounded although she stretches her friend's wits to snapping point but her friends stick by here through thick and thin. This is a great book on the power of having people around you who understand and care for you.

Radhika has created a fresh, engaging voice with Ellie. This is an updated Bridget Jones but this character needs to tackle the horrors and 'honesty' of social media as she sets out to find love. Not That Easy has the same refreshing honesty as Girls but set in London.

This is a fun and sassy read and it'll have you laugh your knickers off at Ellie's antics. You can buy Not That Easy from your favourite bookshop.

I was kindly sent a copy by Midas PR.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Book Review: Learning to Speak American

Learning to Speak American
By Colette Dartford
Published by Twenty7
Available in ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

Colette Dartford's debut novel, Learning to Speak American, may on the surface seem like it could be a gloomy book as a couple struggle to deal with the death of their daughter but in fact this is a book about forgiving the past and the people around you so you can let go and move on.

While on a trip to California's wine region, which Colette describes in great detail and will make you want to buy a plane ticket to head there, Lola and Duncan Drummond stumble upon a derelict house in the need of repair. This house, in the Napa Valley could be the thing needed to regain happiness in their marriage.

A deep grief has swallowed them both after the accidental death of their daughter. They have grown apart burying their grief in silence and guilt. Their fragile relationship is on the brink but will this house be the thing to save their marriage? Colette draws the reader into the complicated life of the Drummond's with believable characters

The house gives back Lola a sense of purpose, and new friends who are willing to listen to her talk about her daughter but secrets and lies consume Duncan as his coping strategy of drinking and one night stands pull him further away from Lola. This is a book which has no 'goodies' and no 'badies' - every character very much reflects real life - complicated.

At the start of the novel, both characters are finding ways of burying themselves in order not to face reality. Both must accept the past, forgive each other and let go of the guilt and resent stopping them from moving on with their lives. Learning to Speak American is a book about hope and acceptance.

You can download Learning to Speak American or pre-order the paperback for the new year!

I was kindly sent a physical copy by the publisher.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Book Review: Beautiful Trees

Beautiful Trees
By Nik Perring
Published by Roast Books
Available in paperback

Beautiful Trees, the second in Nik's 'Beautiful' series is another pleasure following on from Beautiful Words with its teeny-tiny fictions drawing you into a delightful world.

Alexander's journey through life and love continue from the first book as he moves on from Lucy to Lily. Their love is told through the different trees in their life ranging from Holly to Maple to Beech. Each tree holds a significance to the relationship as their love blossoms.

Nik draws on myth, unusual facts and fantasy to tell the story of these two lovers, taking the reader back and forth through their relationship timeline. Their memories of each other are living and breathing in the trees and in such a short space of time you will find yourself emotionally invested with these characters. I mentioned it in my mini review for November's reading but I'll mention it here too - you're going to need a tissue or two.

This is only a short book so make sure you have a cup of tea (or even something stronger like a hot blackcurrant!) and maybe a slab of cake and sit back and enjoy this book. This is a great book and would make an excellent stocking filler. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

The illustrations by Miranda Sofroniou are a delight too.

You can buy or order a copy from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy from the publisher.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Book Review: Blood Axe by Leigh Russell

Blood Axe
By Leigh Russell
Published by No Exit Press
Available in paperback and ebook

If you like your books filled with blood, bodies and an axe murderer running through the streets then this thriller is for you, and you won't be disappointed.

The streets of York are no longer safe. No, I'm not talking about Christmas shoppers or people stumbling back from football matches. There's a Viking obsessed axe murderer on the loose, leaving the police puzzled because the only thing left at the crime scene is the dead victim - no finger prints, no DNA, zilch evidence.

DCI Ian Peterson needs to pull out his finger and find the killer as the bodies are starting to mount up in the morgue but of his leads are dead ends. His career is in the balance if the killer isn't found soon. But working all hours means that he has to put his marriage on the back burner, leaving his wife alone, at home, in a city where they've moved for his promotion.

The chapters alternate between the killer, who wants to be known as 'The Warrior' and DCI Ian Peterson, which I found interesting as it added depth to the plot, and kept the tension building. This change of viewpoint gives the reader an insight from both sides of the story - both characters have an obsession and will do anything to find an answer. Peterson wants and needs to find the killer. The Warrior wants and needs to be the best fighter for the Viking gods.

Blood Axe is the third in the DI Ian Peterson series but you don't need to have read the previous two novels as this one can be read as a separate entity - trust me - I haven't read the other novels and I found it easy to know the characters without the background from the previous stories.

Some endings are obvious - maybe I'm cynical or I've read too many books - but Russell's ending was definitely a surprise. I'm not going to give anything away as I don't want to spoil it for you.

Russell builds the tension as well as the murder count, and gripped me from beginning to end. I should definitely read more crime thrillers in the future!

Blood Axe is brutal, bloody and gripping. You can buy Blood Axe from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy from the publisher.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

November's Reading

Shopaholic is not pictured
This blog has had a mini-make over. Nothing too serious just a new banner and also an option to subscribe via email so you can have my little posts land straight in your inbox. Don't forget you can subscribe via Amazon Kindle... there's no escaping me!

Right, lets get down to business before December is over and I'll need to blog about two month's worth of reading.

The books are posing next to my favourite cushion....

Shopaholic to the Rescue - Sophie Kinsella
This was like meeting back up with an old friend, where its awkward at the beginning because you both know you should have made the effort to stay in touch (aka read the rest of the series) but by the end you're chatting away with no cares in the world. You can read my review here.

All My Puny Sorrows - Miriam Toews
This. Book. Is. Amazing! buy it and read it. This is about two sisters. One sister wants to die. The other sister wants her to live. Sucicide and complicated families may seem like a depressing read but it's not - there are lots of funny bits in this book too. Just brilliant. I could quote all day long from this book but I won't because you should definitely read it - or have I said that already?!

Blood Axe - Leigh Russell
An entertaining read of dead bodies, axe murderers, blood, blood, blood. I'll be writing a review of Blood Axe in the next week. Leigh also popped by and took part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

Beautiful Trees - Nik Perring
Nik's latest book follows on from last year's Beautiful Words. The story will pull at your heart strings so you might want to have a tissue or two next to you when you read this one. I'll be reviewing this in the next week or so.