Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 Year Wrap Up.


Yes it is that time of the year again to look back at all the fantastic books that have been released and a time where I take a step back to look and see how my joy of reading and a personal blog to keep track of the books I have read has now been a branch to reach out to others and share books we enjoy. I never expected when I started this blog to have any followers it was purely for my own reasons ( mainly to stop buying the same book over again!) as to why I set the blog up but I now have to pinch myself as I feel so lucky to have made some great bookish friends some of who I was lucky enough to actually meet ( yes my little bookworms are real people!) and my biggest high light of the year has been to overcome my nerves slightly and actually manage to get the chance to meet some amazing authors. So before I start the wrap up I want to say the BIGGEST  thank you to all of my followers as without your support my blog would not be what it is today you are all AMAZEBALLS!


Top 5 Books 

In at number 1 is the amazing The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. I have read 120 books this year and this was one of the first books I read and yet I can still remember it as though I read it yesterday. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time as it was such a poignant, beautifully written book that had me in tears. I have not stopped recommending this book throughout the year and it is one of the few books that has actually made it to my bookshelf. If you missed my review ( I'm not sure how as I shouted it from the roof tops!) then click HERE










In at number 2 is The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown, this was by far my favourite Christmas book this year and also my favourite book by Alexandra Brown. This was such a comforting feel good read set in a quirky little village with such a warm lovable group of characters, a book full of community spirit. I really hope we see a follow up to this book in 2015. Take a look at my review by clicking HERE

In at number 3 is The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop, this was a breathtaking read that was so well researched and a captivating read which sparked my interest in the Ghost Town again after all these years. The descriptive writing style really had me hooked on this book and for those whom I have recommended this book to they have all remarked on what a gripping read it is. Check out my review by clicking HERE.
In at number 4 is The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson, is it wrong that this is one of my big memories from my honeymoon this year! This is my favourite Milly Johnson book so far. I longed to be sitting in the Teashop with these wonderful characters and the tantalising bookish gifts. This book was fun, uplifting but also an emotional journey too. Check out my review by clicking HERE.

In at number 5 if The Separation by Dinah Jefferies, I have never felt a characters desperation so much as I did in this book a mothers desperation to find her children and a child's desperation for her mother, this one is a tense read that shows a woman's journey to find her children and will pull at your heartstrings. This is a remarkable debut and I long to see what else this author has in store for us. Check out my review by clicking HERE.


This was so hard to whittle down to only 5 this year as there were some other amazing debuts especially from Jo Thomas with Oyster Catcher and Tina Seskis with One Step Too Far which had the biggest twist of the year! There was also some amazing books that pulled at my heartstrings such as One Step Closer To You by the amazing Alice Peterson and also A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. Of course we all need a book to make us laugh to and this for me was A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby.


Out and About

I finally plucked up the courage this year to attend my first author publication event. It seemed fitting that the author who first interacted with me about my reviews and gave me the confidence to push forward with my reviews was the first author event that I attended so you can imagine my pure excitement at the chance of meeting the talented and much respected Rowan Coleman for her publication of The Memory Book.




I had such a wonderful evening and this is the second highlight of my year ( I suppose it is only right to put my Wedding Day first!) This will be a time that I will always remember with a big smile on my face and a day that I will cherish my first meeting of an author and one of my favourites at that so thank you to Rowan and her publishers at Ebury for making my dream come true! You can read more about my time at The Memory Book Publication Event by clicking HERE.

I also attended Penguins Woman's Fiction Event earlier this month again I was a bag of nerves but this was yet another brilliant evening and it was a joy to meet so many talented authors some whose books I have enjoyed over the last few years and some whose debut's where released this year. We came away with a bag full of books which I am slowly working my way through so thank you to the lovely book fairies at Penguin for my invite and for the books! I managed to chat to the lovely Lucy Robinson again after I had briefly met her at Rowan's book launch and I couldn't believe she remembered little old me!




 To see more of my evening at Penguin check out my post by clicking Here

It has been a great year being able to meet so many wonderful authors and their publishers and although they still test my nerves in a big way they are definitely worth it. Not only have I had the opportunity to meet amazing authors but I finally got the chance to meet more book lovers like myself who held my hand at both events! So a big thank you to 


I hope we are lucky enough to meet at events in 2015 and I look forward to meeting more bloggers next year we need a big blogger meet!


What will 2015 bring?

I have already been looking at some of the books we have coming to us in 2015 so it looks set to be another great year for us readers. I am getting ready to set my Goodreads reading challenge and I think this year I will up my usual goal of 100 to 120 I think this is going to be a challenge as I have no holiday planned for this year so I will rely on reading around work at the salon, what will your reading goal be for 2015?

This year will also see my 4 year blogversary so I am going to start getting some book goodies and book posts ready for this milestone for you all to take part in.

I will also be offering more giveaways this year and now that I have found out that Book Depository ships worldwide I will be offering more international giveaways for all my lovely followers overseas to take part in.

This year I managed to reach 3000 Twitter Followers ( still not sure how I managed this, I ramble about books and chocolate too much!) I am now at over 3600 followers so it would be great if I made it to 4000 in my 4th year blogging so hopefully this will be another bumper giveaway to plan for too fingers crossed.

So this is it my final post of 2014! 
Once again I would like to thank all you wonderful followers
I hope my reviews have helped you to find some fabulous reads this year. Thank you to all of you who have recommended my blog to friends and who take the time to comment on the blog or re-tweet my reviews 
Thank You , Thank You, Thank You!
Also a massive thank you to all the authors and Publishers who have sent me books to review for this year as much as I love reading my bank balance doesn't like me reading so you have helped in a big way!

I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.

xXx REA xXx

Saturday, 27 December 2014

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis


An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. Yet one morning Emily Coleman wakes up and walks right out of her life. 
What makes her do it? How will she survive? And, no matter how hard she tries, can she ever really say goodbye to her past? Emily has a secret. 
No-one has ever guessed it. 
Will you?


I had the privilege of meeting author Tina Seskis earlier this month and after listening to her talking about her book, the storyline really intrigued me and her passion for her book was what actually made me want to read it as she sounded so excited when she was talking to me about it.

Emily walks away from her life, leaving behind her husband and little Charlie and begins to start life again with a new home, new job, even a new name. She sparks up a friendship with one of her housemates Angel. Her life takes a completely different path from her life before but how long will she be able to keep her secret from her new friend and will this be a lifelong change or will she be found?

The cover to this book really gives nothing away it is a very plain cover that conceals an amazing storyline. Tina Seskis has such a skilled writing style she creates such an enthralling storyline that will slowly draw you in until you are hooked and just as you are immersed in the storyline there is a completely unpredictable twist! The whole book was totally unpredictable and the twist has to be the biggest unexpected twist I have read in a book this year. I love a book that can chock me and this one blew me away.

This is a stunning debut and although I am not usually big on thrillers this book really suited me and kept me gripped the whole way through. I loved the romance, suspense and mystery that were present in the book, there really is something to suit everyone’s taste in this book.

I cannot tell you the last time I read a book where I had absolutely no idea what lie ahead, you are on the edge of your seat with suspense and tension as you know something major has happened. The author does cover a couple of sensitive topics but again this shows the beautiful writing style as they were written full of detail but also very carefully.


I absolutely loved this book and as much as it was a real page turner I did find that I savoured each page. This is one of those books that creep along at an enjoyable 4 star read and then dramatically ups to a 5* read. I can not wait for the release of this authors new book to be released, this is an author to watch out for I am sure she will bring us more thrilling and captivating reads.


Paperback                  Kindle

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Mysterious Miss Mayhew by Hazel Osmond


Tom doesn't need any more women in his life. He already has a five-year-old daughter, an estranged wife who keeps blocking his efforts to get divorced and a mother who might be having an affair with the vicar. 
So when Fran Mayhew turns up - years younger and with all the tact of a dinosaur with its backside on fire - she's just another tricky person to deal with. ...
And what's she doing in his remote part of Northumberland crawling around in graveyards anyway? But soon Tom discovers that there's more to the mysterious Miss Mayhew than meets the eye - and that it's not just his heart he's in danger of losing.


I have read all of Hazel Osmond’s previous books and I have loved each and every one of them because they are beautifully written and full of emotion. The Mysterious Miss Mayhew shows a different side to the authors writing and she shows that she can write comical novels as well as emotional ones too.

Fran is new in town and it isn’t long before she meets Tom who is raising his daughter alone. Tom and Fran seem to be bumping into each other more often but Fran is keeping her private life hidden and the reason as to why she is in town but before long attraction begins to grow between the couple but what mystery is Fran hiding?

Our mains character are Tom and Fran, the book alternates between the two characters with the majority of the book told from Tom’s point of view which is rare to see but worked extremely well in this book. We got to know Fran by her daily diary entries where she lists 10 thoughts on the day and I was surprised how just with these 10 points how well we actually got to know her character. I also have to mention Tom’s daughter because she was a little ray of sunshine she was involved in a lot of the humorous parts to this book and her relationship with her dad was so believable and natural.


The storyline was more light hearted than the authors previous reads and at times I did find myself chuckling away so I did enjoy this side to her writing. It took me quite a long time to start getting an idea as to what Fran’s secret was so it was rather unpredictable for a good part of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I did find that I was engaged with the storyline and the characters all the way through. I enjoyed seeing a different side to the author’s usual writing style it just shows what a talented author she is, but I still favour her deeper more emotional books but I will still be recommending this book.


Kindle                     Paperback

Saturday, 20 December 2014

I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson

Have you ever given up on love?

When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.

Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York. At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships. 

But the city has other plans . . .


I have a few authors who I make sure I pre-order each of their books as soon as they are available on amazon and Miranda Dickinson is one of those authors for me, I have read and enjoyed every single book by her and I follow her on twitter to keep up with what she has planned for her next release, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that I’ll Take New York was a sequel ( kind of ) to A Fairytale of New York which is my favourite book by Miranda Dickinson.

We have two main characters in this book Bea and Jake who are such wonderful characters. Bea is going to be a favourite with a lot of us readers, she is soft natured loveable and she not only loves books but she also owns a bookshop with her best friend Russ. At the beginning of the book we see Bea waiting with her family for the arrival of her long term boyfriend Otis to arrive for a special occasion and they all have a pretty good idea as to what this occasion will be but there is one problem, Otis doesn’t arrive. After constantly being let down by Otis Bea decides that she needs to move on with her life in her own way and it is when she meets Jake at a party where they are the only single people there that they both swore off relationships and spark a new friendship.

Jake is sure to be a hit with the ladies he is a handsome, successful male lead who has had his heart broken and is having to start all over again. Miranda knows how to create the perfect male lead for us to drool over! It was so good to be reintroduced to some much loved previous characters, Rosie and Ed and to see what is going on in their life since we left them.

The thing I love most about Miranda’s writing style is her descriptions, she makes things come alive in her books especially the settings and this was the case with this book as she describes the sights around New York and the mouth-wateringly good food as well as the pure emotions that each of the characters have it gives life to this fictional book.

The storyline was a little predictable but in this case the joy wasn’t in the ending itself it was the journey she took us on to get there that made this a heart warming read.


This is yet another fabulous read by this author that I have already found myself recommending to friends.


Kindle                    Paperback

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Separation by Dinah Jefferies


What happens when a mother and her daughters are separated; who do they become when they believe it might be forever?
1953, the eve of the Cartwright's departure from Malaya. Eleven-year-old Emma can't understand why they're leaving without their mother; why her taciturn father is refusing to answer questions.
Lydia arrives home to an empty house - there's no sign of her husband Alec or her daughters. Panic stricken, she embarks on a dangerous journey to find them through the hot and civil-war-torn Malayan jungle - one that only the power of a mother's love can help her to survive.

I have just finished reading The Separation by Dinah Jefferies which is an unbelievably stunning debut that took me on a journey I was not expecting. The storyline is set back in 1955 in Malaya around a family who have been separated. Mum Lydia Cartwright returns home to find their house empty, her husband and two daughters Emma and Fleur gone without a trace. She embarks on a heart breaking journey to try and find her family as she is given information that they have made their way to the north but her journey is a very traumatic and dangerous one but nothing can come between a mum and her love for her children.

This is a breath taking read and quite hard to believe that this is a debut because it was flawless. Such a captivating read that made it impossible to put down as there was always something gripping going on as the storyline was consistently fast paced and eventful all the way through.

The storyline alternates between Lydia and Emma, I think I warmed more to Emma because her part was told by first person narrative so we feel first hand her heart rending thoughts and feelings about being wrenched away from her mother. The part of Lydia was told in third person narrative so although we don’t hear first hand how she feels, it still was easy to see how desperate she was to find her children after such a cruel act of betrayal from her husband, we long for her to find the right path back to her daughters.

Although we know where the family are it doesn’t make this a predictable read because I still couldn’t see how or if Lydia would find them and also there were so many little twists and turns which I never could have predicted coming, I was so tense at times during this book!


The book shows the author’s passion and knowledge for the Emergency in Malaya which I confess I had no knowledge about so it was a real learning curve too that had me intrigued. This was an amazing read that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be recommending this one for a long time yet. I am so excited now to read the authors next release The Tea Planter’s Wife. 


Kindle                     Paperback

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Christmas Feast and Other Stories by Katie Fforde

I have always been a massive fan of Katie Fforde, her books were one of the first books I read as an adult and I have never found an author who writes similar books to her she just has her own little signature style of writing that just seems to wrap you up in a hug which is just want you need at this time of year so I didn’t hesitate in clicking for my copy of A Christmas Feast and Other Stories even if I am not a huge fan of short stories, I had faith Katie Fforde that she would keep me entertained with her little collection.

There are 12 different short stories in this e-book all featuring very different storylines and a wonderful mix of characters. The book is bursting with romance and new friendships as well as lots of mouth-watering food and festivity! 

There really will be a story for everyone in this collection, some are shorter than others but each are an enjoyable little treat. I did have to laugh at myself though because my favourite in this collection is From Scotland with Love but I thought myself very clever as I knew what was going to happen next and no not because it was totally predictable but because I had already read this novella last year and completely forgot the title but it was a great chance to read again!

The whole collection is very cheery and uplifting which is the kind of books I enjoy this time of year, yes some of them are farfetched and predictable but that really doesn’t ruin these stories as it is this time of year when the magic happens!

My favourite part of this e-book though is the sneak peek at the end of the authors coming novel A Vintage Wedding the three ladies Lindy, Beth and Rachel all look like they are forming a beautiful friendship and have a challenge ahead, I cannot wait for the release of this book.


This was a great collection of stories which kept me entertained on my lunch breaks over the last couple of days!


Kindle

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney


For the last thirty years, Angela Gillespie's annual Christmas letter has been full of her family's triumphs. But this year Angela surprises everyone, including herself - she tells the truth. Angela's husband is in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up daughters are more out of control than ever. And her youngest child spends all of his time talking to an imaginary friend. With fantasy thoughts of a life before marriage and motherhood becoming more than just an innocent daydream, Angela's real life is slowly slipping out of focus. But, as the repercussions of her ruthlessly honest letter begin to pile up, a shocking event takes Angela from her family, and she realises she should have been more careful of what she wished for. . .


I seem to be like a magpie at this time of year and any books that are shiny I am drawn to and Hello From the Gillespies is no exception with its gentle sprinkling of glitter on its simplistic cover, Monica McInerney is a new author to me but after reading this book I have looked on amazon to see she has wrote a number of books so after reading this one I cannot wait to get stuck into another one.

Each year Angela Gillespie writes a Christmas letter to a hundred friends and family members updating them on their achievements over the year but this year things haven’t been too good for the family in Angela’s eyes and as she has gradually let it all build up and get on top of her she soon finds herself baring the brutal truth in her annual letter to get it off of her chest having no intention on sending it. As an event makes Angela move away from her letter something happens and the letter is finding itself in everyone’s inbox, this letter could have a bad effect on more than Angela’s life.

This was a heart-warming and funny read which was a joy to read but it also touched on a number of more delicate matters such as depression which made it a deeper and more meaningful book. The author has quite clearly undertook a great deal of research for this book not only on the setting in the outback but also in the medical side to which I don’t want to say too much about as I don’t want to give anything away!

The Gillespie family were all loveable and such realistic characters who are all facing the usual struggles from relationships to financial problems and careers but there main problem is like most families they do not communicate, so much heartache could have been avoided if they had just spoke to one and other!

I loved how this book was totally unpredictable this storyline was, it was an original storyline that had me hooked from the first chapter. There was a large amount of characters in this book and it does take a little while to fit them altogether but before long you feel like part of the mob! I loved Angela as our lead character but I have to say little Ig was by far my favourite, he was such a quirky and loving character.


I loved this book and will definitely be recommending this one and I have found yet another talented author to add to my favourites list.



Kindle                    Paperback

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher


Christmas has come to Rosefont Hill and it's destined to be a particularly special festive season for Sophie May.

When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone's dream come true?

As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairytale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man?
And who is the lucky lady he's about to get down on one knee for?


I have just met up with my old friends Billy and Sophie in Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher! I was so moved by Billy and Me and I loved Billy and Sophie so I was longing for another book with these characters and this little treat doesn’t disappoint.

Sophie receives an anonymous email who wants to pop the big question to his partner but needs her help as it would be prefect to make his proposal in her much loved Teashop. As her and Billy begin to make the Teashop perfect and festive for the event her mind is trying to figure out who this surprise could be for.

This authors writing style has me hooked from the first page, she has a way of making the characters feel so familiar, it is like sitting down reading about friends. I do feel that you need to have read Billy and Me to appreciate this novella as it does make references about events  and also mentions the much loved Molly all which refers to the previous book but that’s not a bad thing because you wouldn’t want to miss out on a reason to read Billy and Me.


This is a prefect little Christmas treat for yourself, full of romance, an idyllic festive setting, a great little twist and a great cast of character too. As much as I loved this novella I am secretly hoping that there will be another full length novel and in my eyes the ending of this novella leaves a perfect starting point for another book so I am keeping my fingers crossed.




Kindle

Friday, 5 December 2014

Penguin Event.

Last Night I was lucky enough to be invited to Penguin Women's Fiction Evening, I have been looking forward to this event for a long time, I was going to meet up with the lovely Amanda but unfortunately she was poorly on the day and couldn't make it, I hope you feel better soon my little bookworm!

I was very nervous attending this event alone, I am sure you all know by now how nervous and anxious I get but I was so excited and luckily this over took the nerves and I am so pleased I did because it was such a wonderful evening with great company.




Lucy Robinson

Sinead Moriarty
I was star struck yet again as soon as I walked in with so many fabulous authors it was like Christmas not knowing what present to open first but instead which author to approach first!
I was firstly introduced to Dinah Jefferies who was a lovely lady with gorgeous sparkly red nails for the event she took the time to talk to myself and another reviewer answering our questions and talking to us about her up and coming release The Tea Planter's Wife which sounds like a great read.

We were then approached by the very bubbly Tina Seskis, I have yet to read her book One Step Too Far but this will be going to the top of my pile now as her new book When We Were Friends is due out in April and after seeing this authors enthusiasm for her book I can not wait to read it!

I was then introduced to the absolutely stunning Sinead Moriarty who was enjoying her night away in London and talking to us about her book The Secrets Sisters Keep which I was lucky enough to pick up a copy and I have to say the synopsis sounds intriguing.

I then managed to grab the lovely Lucy Robinson, I love this woman as much as her books and yes I do go all fangirl and start throwing question after question but mainly I needed to be reasured that after her telling off video from penguin ( is it wrong I am still chuckling away at this?)  I was hoping that this didnt mean that her new book The Day we Disappeared wasn't going to be too tame now as this is what sets Lucy Robinson aside from other authors it is her unique style and I was pleased to hear that she will not be disappointing us!
We got a proof copy of her new book and I have to say I felt like a thief walking home with a precious jewel!

Finally I met Kate Riordan author of The Girl in the Photograph who was such a sweet and friendly woman, she took the time to tell me about her book and I was surprised by the subject matter as I wasn't expecting that based on the cover I had seen but having seen the new cover it is definitely more appealing and fitting with the storyline, I can see that the new cover will be more eyecatching on the shelf. This sounds different from my usual reads so because my reading mojo has been hanging on an edge recently I am going to make this my next read keep your eyes peeled for the review.

There were so many other authors but there just wasn't enough time to get around to each of them which was a shame but I hope if I am ever luck enough to be invited to another Penguin event I may be able to catch up with them at another time.


Laura

Karen

As well as meeting all the wonderful authors it was also a great chance to meet other reviewers who I have spoken to over the years and it was lovely to put faces to names. I met the lovely Laura and Zarina who looked as excited as I felt!
I also met Bronagh who was such a sweetie and showed much more restraint than me!
My little angel of the night was Karen like myself Karen didn't know anyone else and I just want to say a BIG thank you to Karen for holding my hand so I couldn't chicken out! 
It was a pleasure to meet you all ladies.



My Christmas has well and truly come early!
Thank you so much to the team at Penguin for all of these
fabulous books I can not wait to get started already.
You hosted an amazing evening which will be a night to remember, 
it is most definitely a big highlight of my year.
You were all so welcoming and I am honoured to have been invited
and to finally get a chance to meet you all.
So a great BIG THANK YOU to you all for a night to remember.




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