Monday, 21 August 2017

Review of 'Summer at The Cosy Cottage Cafe'

Review of 'Summer at The Cosy Cottage Cafe' by Rachel Griffiths



Allie Jones loves her cosy cottage café in the picturesque village of Heatherlea. She has her independence, two grown-up children and two cute cats. Life is settled and she thinks she's happy.

Author Chris Monroe has it all. Critical success, a luxurious London apartment, and the kind of jet-set lifestyle most people dream of. But something's missing.

When a family bereavement throws these two old friends together, they begin to question the true meaning of happiness.

Love is in the air, but do Allie and Chris have room in their hands-on lives for more than a summer fling?

This is the first of four short stories in The Cosy Cottage Café series.

Coming soon:
Autumn at The Cosy Cottage Café
Winter at The Cosy Cottage Café

Spring at The Cosy Cottage Café 


Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/1WXyHFx

My review of Summer at the Cosy Cottage Cafe

What a lovely feel good read. If you are wanting to curl up with a book on a wet day, this is the perfect book for you. It oozes warmth and personality. Although the story was a tad predictable, I didn't mind this in the slightest. This was a lovely heartfelt story about Allie rebuilding her life after a bereavement and moving on from past mistakes. I really warmed to all of the characters and enjoyed seeing the relationship develop between Chris and Allie.  I loved the cafe and relished reading about the food! A very lovely book to relax and enjoy.

Overall - an enjoyable cosy read, and I look forward to more in this series.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Review of The Limpet Syndrome by Tony Moyle

Review of 'The Limpet Syndrome' by Tony Moyle


If you love books about reincarnation, corruption, the human condition, Ocd and talking pigeons then this is the book for you. Ok so you've never read a book like that before. . .so why not try this one! From the Back Cover Imagine there was a politician whose only ambition was to corrupt and manipulate the very people who elected him, without them even knowing it. This was Byron T Casey's ambition. It helped that he was the Prime Minister and had just acquired Emorfed, a substance that had the ability to alter a person's soul. Sandy Logan was the only person capable of stopping him. But there was one problem. Sandy was dead. It complicated matters that his death had been aided by the mysterious Limpet Syndrome, which meant he wasn't dead dead. Very few people understood why Sandy's soul had lingered on Earth, least of all Sandy. About the Author Tony Moyle was supposed to be a Chemist. Turns out he was rubbish at it. A book formed in 1996 and took 21 years to escape on to paper.

My review

This is a book like no other I've read! It is such a mixture of different things but it totally works and the author has managed to pull off a really great read. I wasn't sure it was a book I'd usually pick up and read, but I was wrong. I couldn't pigeon hole this book into one genre if I tried. It is both amusing and down right funny in places but also tells a great adventure. There was lots of powerful description throughout the well paced novel, however it is not a tricky read. It flows nicely and is hard to put down! The ending does leave some unanswered questions but I've heard there is a book 2 in the pipeline, which will hopefully resolve these.

This is a great well-written debut novel, which I am glad I've had the chance to read.


 Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/8AIMb1k
More about the author:


Tony Moyle was born in the small town of Shepton Mallet in 1976. He's spent the last four decades attempting to find a third reason for the town to be known behind Babycham and a Frank Bruno World Title fight. Although he studied Chemistry at Exeter University he was terrible at it and instead found a role within the business community. After twenty years of deliberation and prevarication he published his first novel, 'The Limpet Syndrome.' With any luck the next book won't take quiet so long. He lives in the small town of Ashington at the base of the South Downs national park with this wife, Laure, and two children.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Annabelle Costa - Crazy in Love

Review of Annabelle Costa - Crazy in Love

 They call her Crazy Anna.

Anna Flint won’t shake your hand. She collects tin cans. She cleans her cubicle at work with Lysol several times a day. But Anna doesn’t care that they call her crazy. She’s absolutely satisfied with her life of perfect organization, cleanliness, and most of all, solitude.

Matt Harper likes Anna Flint. He likes that she’s the smartest person he knows and he likes her big blue eyes. He doesn’t even mind her can collection. In fact, he pretty much likes everything about Anna. As his body and his world are falling apart, she still manages to make him happy.

Matt is the only person Anna has ever wanted to be close to. But how can she go on a date with him if the thought of dinner at a restaurant fills her with terror? How can she ever kiss the man she loves if she can't even touch him?

Maybe it’s time to stop being Crazy Anna. If only she could.

My review

I absolutely loved the start of this novel and it kept me gripped all the way through. Anna is such a great character and it was great to hear her thoughts mixed in with those from Matt. I loved the dynamics between these two characters as the book progresses.

This book is written from the two different perspectives and flits constantly through the characters as the story progresses. I thought this might be confusing but I found that I eagerly looked forward to the other perspective from Matt. Such a great way of showing the views of two different characters. I found this to be a touching and lovely story, I really warmed to crazy Anna in a way that I thought I wouldn't. Both humorous and emotional, I found it an absorbing read. I won't give away the ending, but the book develops pace as it progresses to a satisfying ending. Great read, thank you Annabelle Costa.


Review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'


In his first collection of non-fiction short stories, Nathaniel Barber allows a peek inside the life observant. Luck Favors the Prepared is a straightforward read, shifting from remote and hilarious documentary to a lived-in memoir, dreamily recalling the absurd dark comedy of death and divorce, landlordship, family, role playing video games, high school, misguided activism, customer service and sudden, unexpected wardrobe failures.

As a son of the Pacific Northwest, his stories are nestled in the mossy bosom of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. His characters and rich dialogue are plucked from the past and set to life. They are belligerents and buffoons. They are the beautiful and the bewildering, plagued by dark and grotesque motives and juxtaposed with a loving objectivity that suspends judgement for a world where no one is defined by their worst deeds.

Luck Favors the Prepared is an unforgettable tour through the ordinary and unconventional—a full collection of real life and all its baggage, handcrafted by the hardest working nobody in contemporary literature.


My review of 'Luck Favors the Prepared'

Luck Favors the Prepared was an enjoyable read. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved the down to earth feel of this non-fiction story. It flowed more like fiction with a realistic edge. The stories were very powerful and each left me wanting to find out more and whether they could have been joined to flow together. Barber has an easy style and flow to his writing and is certainly capable of giving a rounded story with depth and humour. I really felt for the author during the experiences for these stories, which did produce witty accounts but must have been harrowing at the time. A talented author, which can write about highs and lows with passion and that certainly has the scope for more. I look forward to hearing from this author again and will look out for his next novel.

About the author:

 I was born in San Diego but I remember little of my native city. I remember citrus, as large as my own head. And the sunset-orange beaches littered with black, sea-smoothed rocks. There were the family dogs, two eager and bushy Norwegian Elkhounds. I was just a small child then so the butts of these curl-tailed Norwegian Elkhounds—eye-level and unavoidable—lent an early and impressive lesson about the things you love: to throw yourself at them with pragmatic abandon since it is both right and necessary to love all things, but sensible to keep a watchful eye on the gruesome, sobering details. The air of San Diego was cream-heavy with sea salt and eucalyptus and jasmine.

Then, thank God, the Barber family picked up and moved to Lynnwood, Washington just before my fourth birthday. It was one year after the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens when the whole Pacific Northwest, or, at least the rest stops along I-5, seemed still buried in its volcanic ash. It was here I learned about seasons: the blistering-hot and stupid suburban summers and the cruel, humbling soak from mid-September to May. Here I attended schools that varied from fantastically doting schools to schools that seemed to only specialize in the wicked trade of endless loathing, ineptitude and failure. I was lucky to have attended both. There was some little league in there, too. As well as a series of horribly disfiguring bicycle accidents.

I followed a girlfriend further north, to Bellingham, Washington. I won a long, hard-fought lawsuit against a pederast and enrolled in college to pursue a useless degree. I eventually married that girlfriend. It was a marriage I jokingly refer to as a ‘training wheels’ marriage. We graduated college with our useless degrees and promptly divorced so I moved to Portland, Oregon to work myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. Somewhere in there I met the love of my life (sometimes it takes the wrong marriage to illuminate the right one). We live somewhere in North Portland with our daughter who recoils in horror every time I shave off my beard.

Some people will warn you away from non-fiction authors. They’re rumored to write only non-fiction because they have no imagination and they’re foaming with venom for all the perceived wrongs they’ve suffered. I don’t know about all that. I think my stories are beautiful, even if they are humiliating and difficult to tell. I hope my stories are enjoyable. After all, I’ve worked very hard to make them read okay.



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Dead over heels by Theresa Bruan



Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.

After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

 My review of Dead over Heels

It's not often I read a book without looking in detail at the genre or the blurb, but as this was a short story, I dived in not really knowing what to expect! I should have twigged by the cover but as I'd downloaded it, I didn't ponder over this and got stuck straight in.. At first I thought I was reading a dating novel, and I found the interaction between Sebastian and Veronica humorous and true to life. I was confused at first how they ended up in a police station but the unravelled that they'd met on a dating site and enjoyed the paranormal. As odd things started to happen when they settled down to their first date, I realised that this novel wasn't a simple relationship story. Although this short story certainly had the potential to be developed into a full length novel the author certainly packed a great deal into a few short pages and kept me on my toes. I found the book to be well written and the writing engaging.

The ending came so quickly and shockingly, I had to read back to check that I hadn't missed anything. When I understood what had happened, it left me open-mouthed at the ending. Great to engage the reader in such emotions in such a short space of time - well done to the author!

Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/7OEYeTg

About the author:



Theresa Braun was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides. An English teacher and adjunct college professor for over thirteen years, she continues to share her enthusiasm for literary arts with her students. She earned a Masters in English literature with a thesis on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. In her spare time, she enjoys delving into her own creative writing, painting, photography and even ghost hunting. Spending time with her family and traveling as often possible are two of her passions. In fact, her world meanderings are often backdrops for her work. Striving to make the world a better place is something dear to her heart. When she's not writing, she can be found looking for romance or shopping for shoes.

Review of Keeping my Sisters' Secrets - Beezy Marsh

Review of 'Keeping my Sisters' Secrets' - Beezy Marsh



Eva, Peggy and Kathleen were sisters born into a close-knit working class family, living in a tiny terraced house in a street so rough the police would only walk down it in pairs. As they grew up between the wars, they dreamed of escaping their violent father and the crime-ridden slums of Waterloo.
Peggy was a studious girl so appalled by conditions in the factories that she became a Communist. Beautiful Kathleen married an abusive man and later - during the Second World War - fell in love with a GI. Feisty Eva became a thief as a child so she could help their mother put food on the table - and never lost her rebellious streak, or her desire to protect her family by whatever means necessary.
As the years pass the sisters all lived close together, sharing each other's lives, supporting each other through hard times. Keeping My Sisters' Secrets is a rich, moving story of three sisters fighting to survive through decades of social upheaval, their love for each other the one constant in a changing world.

Buy the novel here:  http://amzn.eu/6mW3nq0

My review of Keeping my Sisters' Secrets

This book took me a little by surprise. I had read a previous book by the author, which had been incredibly witty and light-hearted and although both wonderfully written, this book had real extra strength and depth. The cover was lovely and completely intrigued me. I knew I'd love it as soon as I saw the beautiful cover artwork. I felt like I had immediately stepped back into the past, whisked away into the difficult lives of the sisters. This is a great family drama book where you really feel the love and tie between the incredibly different children. They all had their uniqueness. 

The area in London that the sisters and their family grew up in was an incredibly difficult place to live and Marsh covers this sensitively. The sisters long for a different life, away from the slums, noise, smells and their abusive father. Their story is one of grit and determination and I really enjoyed the journey about each different sister, although Eva's story stood out the most. 

I really enjoyed this story, well done Beezy Marsh!

About the author:


Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.

Review of 'Hortense and the Shadow'



"Through the dark and wolfish woods,
through the white and silent snow,
lived a small girl called Hortense.
Though kind and brave, she was sad as an owl because of one thing . . .
Hortense hated her shadow."

A beautifully illustrated dark fairy tale that will remind you of the fables you read as a child. A treasure not to be missed.


My review of Hortense and the Shadow

What a deliciously dark story! I absolutely love the illustrations, which all add to the slightly creepy effect. This has a classic fairytale feel about it. I loved it! Not sure that it's quite appropriate to read to my toddler yet without scaring him to death, but as a teacher I can really see the books used in primary schools. The book is perfectly aimed for 5-7 year old's but I can see older children unpicking the text in a school setting. There is enough depth to the story and imagination to provoke questions and explore further. Children are fascinated by their shadows and this story has a dark vibe which will definitely appeal to older children. 

Fab book. I'd love to see the paperback version as you don't get the full effect with the Ebook so I will look out for its release. Overall, a dark and twisted read that older children will love!

Pre-order the book here: http://amzn.eu/hu2JFiA  

About the author:

Natalia O'Hara is a script editor and Lauren O'Hara is a set designer. As children, Natalia and Lauren shared stories and planned that when they grew up, Natalia would write books and Lauren would draw pictures. Hortense and the Shadow is the sisters' debut collaboration. They live in London, England, and invite you to visit them at nataliaandlauren.com.

 Natalia O’Hara (Author)
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Lauren O'Hara (Illustrator)
Natalia and Lauren are two sisters from the North of England. In the daytime they edit scripts and design sets, and at night they draw and write together. As children they loved fairytales, animal fables and the stories their Polish grandmother told on snowy nights. Hortense and the Shadow is their first picture book.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review of 'The Fox in the Box' by Amanda Gee



When Lydia finds a lost baby fox outside her back door, they set off together to look for his family. But on the way, they discover a terrible disaster is about to overtake their village. Can they stop it.....and will the cub find what he's looking for?

We were very excited to receive this book-post through the door, thank you Amanda!

Read with Mummy review of The Fox in the Box

I loved the cover of this book so much. I knew the children would love 'The Fox in the Box' as soon as they saw it.  Elliot my son was immediately interested and was very excited when story time arrived before his nap. What a lovely story and gorgeous illustrations too. The rhyming made the book easy to read and flowed beautifully. We weren't expecting such a thought provoking story and this book could be used in school contexts to to talk about the effects of deforestation etc. I really enjoyed this element to the story and when my son is a little older it will provide great discussions about looking after our planet.

Elliot was desperate to find out whether the fox cub could find his family. He had a look of concern on his face as the story developed! We enjoyed exploring the different animals as the book progressed too.

Overall a delightfully lovely story that will come a firm favourite.


 Buy the book here:http://amzn.eu/9Cj9dHl



Review of 'Is Monogamy Dead?' Rosie Wilby

Review of
Is Monogamy Dead?: 
Rethinking Relationships in the 21st Century
by Rosie Wilby



Bittersweet, original, honest and so funny. Rosie Wilby nails the challenges of intimacy and romance in this depressing age of Tinder. Would it be wrong to end a life of monogamy and leave my husband for her? Viv Groskop "My favourite way to learn is when a funny, clever, honest person is teaching me- that's why I love Rosie Wilby!" Sara Pascoe
 
In early 2013, comedian Rosie Wilby found herself at a crossroads with everything she'd ever believed about romantic relationships. When people asked, 'who's the love of your life?' there was no simple answer. Did they mean her former flatmate who she'd experienced the most ecstatic, heady, yet ultimately doomed, fling with? Or did they mean the deep, lasting companionate partnerships that gave her a sense of belonging and family? Surely, most human beings need both. 
Mixing humour, heartache and science, Is Monogamy Dead? details Rosie's very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that doesn't work that well for some of us and is laden with ambiguous assumptions.
  
Buy the book here:  http://amzn.eu/bE0svoo
   
My review
   
What an incredibly warm and witty story from Rosie Wilby. I enjoyed the book immensely. A thoughtful and insightful read, that was written beautifully. This story has a great balance of views and research to provide an interesting read on love in the twenty first century. 
Rosie takes you on an incredible path through relationships which I found warm and touching. It really gave me an insight in the difficulties in finding romantic relationships, I found myself quite emotional at times with the warmth in the story. This book has something for everyone despite your own sexual orientation or relationship needs, you take away a lot from this book.

I found myself laughing out loud at points and weeping at others. What a great intelligent book!
  
More about the author:

Rosie Wilby is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on the likes of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Loose Ends. Since being a finalist at Funny Women 2006, she's been steadily building an army of fans. She has performed at Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Latitude, as well as being published in The Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Independent and more. She's currently the co-host of Radio Diva on Resonance FM alongside Heather Peace. Her first book, Is Monogamy Dead? will be published in August 2017 and follows her TEDx talk of the same name.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review of Fix Me

 Review of Fix Me by Lisa M. Cronkhite




Penelope Wryter's life has been a mess ever since her sister committed suicide a year ago. Now Pen's hooked on Fix, an illegal drug that makes her feel, think, and see differently. The hallucinations are intense, but there's one vision that keeps Pen coming back for more--Nate. He's the only person who cares about her. Too bad he's just a side effect of the drug. Pen knows she's going nowhere fast. She's desperate to change. But when she tries to say goodbye to Nate, he professes his love for her making her more confused than ever. Then, when a girl from school goes missing during a bad Fix trip, Pen realizes she may be in a lot more danger than she ever imagined. Unless Pen straightens up and faces reality quick, she might be the next missing girl on the list.

My review

The blurb of this novel really intrigued me. The book had great premise as it delved into Penelope's life after she becomes hooked on Fix. I loved how the book is narrated by Penelope, leaving you to wonder how accurate her account. As she is on Fix for the majority of the book, you do wonder how true her perceptions of the world really are. I found the book completely fascinating. Sometimes confusing as her world is blurred with reality, but fascinating none the less. Pen needs to come off Fix to truly understand what is happening around her, but as with any drug, that is not as easy as it sounds.

I did find it a little hard to warm to the characters and didn't find Pen particularly likeable. I was concerned about her, and the situation she'd got herself in, but she didn't really do anything to merit these feelings of concern. However, as Pen is overcoming some very difficult times in her life, such as her sister's suicide, I had to factor these into my opinion of her actions. The book made drug additions very unappealing, which I think was the author's intention, so therefore as a YA book it hit the mark. I certainly wouldn't try drugs after reading this as it's very graphic and off putting.

There were some issues with continuity as the book progressed, probably down to Penelope's state of mind, but I found these made the story stop and start and I kept looking back to check I'd read it correctly. It truly shows how disturbing on your health drug taking is.

This was a thought provoking read and I'll look out for this author again.


Buy the book here: http://amzn.eu/dy3ptqF

About the author: 


Lisa M. Cronkhite is the author of Dreaming a Reality, Demon Girl, Deep in the Meadows and her most recent release, Disconnected. Her work has also appeared online and in print magazines including Storyteller, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Ruminate Magazine. She lives and writes in a small suburb near Chicago. You can find her online at www.writingsbylisamcronkhite.blogspot.com and on Twitter @lmcronkhite.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Review of Lily Alone by Vivien Brown

Book review of Lily Alone by Vivien Brown



What sort of mother would leave her all alone… a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won’t let you go.

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and why isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat downstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor above? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy… and for Lily, time is running out.


Buy the novel here: http://amzn.eu/cDryJhI 

My review of Lily Alone

Gosh this novel had me gripped! The first few pages developed a range of emotions within me, as it was both poignant and shocking. My heart reached out for little Lily. This highly emotional novel was engaging from the outset. Brown has an excellent way of creating unique characters that your heart stretches out for. The story is voiced by a number of characters. I first thought that this would make the novel confusing, or that I'd lose interest if the characters weren't engaging enough. I was pleasantly surprised that neither were the case and I was truly hooked with each character. The thread of the overarching story remained intact as each of the characters is explored. I particularly likes the perspectives from Lily and reading about Agnes the neighbour.

This was an interesting read that explores how lives are affected by the circumstances of others. I would recommend if you're looking to read something different. I will be looking out for more of Brown's books in future.

More about the author:

Vivien Brown lives in Uxbridge, on the outskirts of London, with her husband and two cats. After a career in banking and accountancy and the birth of her twin daughters, she gave up working with numbers and moved into working with words and has never looked back.