Thursday, 29 September 2016

Blog Tour: My experience of #NinjaBookSwap

Two years ago, I came across the Ninja Book Swap by chance and I have been taking part in it ever since.  The swap is so brilliantly run and the best thing about it is that it allows you to make new friends.  Since taking part in the swap, I have made friends from Germany and India, people that I would never have had the opportunity to interact with if it wasn't for this amazing book swap.  It allows you to get to know more like minded people who like the same things you do and who share some of your interests.  Knowing that you are putting a smile on someones face, and that someone else, who you may not even know yet will put a smile on yours when your parcel arrives is a great feeling.  If you are thinking about signing up for the book swap, but your not sure so it!! After all, you don't have to sign up again if you don't like it, but I don't know one person who hasn't kept on coming back for more.  You control what your package will contain, because you will provide a wish list and your likes and dislikes, which means that everyone will come away from the swap happy.  Let the book swap bring a little bit of joy into your life.  The links that you need to sign up are below, the swap opens on Saturday September 17th and remain open until October 2nd.  There are two swaps that you can take part in this around, either the original swap or a trick or treat swap.

To sign up to the swap, click here. Enjoy and happy swapping :D

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Girl I Was Before by Izzy Bayliss

I would like to thank the author for a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Lily McDermott's life is suddenly turned upside down when she returns home from work early on the day of her three month wedding anniversary to fins her husband, Marc (with a C) in bed with an actress, who by the way has a lovely bum.  Devastated Lily flees to best friends house and when she returns home, Marc has emptied their home of all of his belongings and has moved in with Nadia, the actress she caught him cheating with.  Lily is so devastated by the breakdown of her marriage after only three short months, Lily also finds herself jobless when her grief gets in the way of her carrying out her duties at work.  Broken and wounded, with no job and no husband, Lily decided that she can either let what has happened to her make her or break her, and decided to set up a business doing what she does best, baking cakes.  

I jumped at the chance to review this book after I had heard so many great things, and I am pleased to tell you that everyone of those things is true.  The Girl I Was Before is the perfect book to lose yourself in.  This is the last book that I will get to read before I go back to college and it is just the tonic I needed.  The Girl I Was Before is a laugh a minute and had me laughing out loud throughout.  Izzy Bayliss is an extremely talented author, who I can't wait to read more of.  As an author, one of the best presents you can give your readers in laughter and Izzy Bayliss managed to give this by the bucket load.  I adore how this book is so effortlessly funny and full of witty one liners.  

I fell in love with Izzy from the very first page.  She is just such a loveable character and I really admire the way she handled herself despite everything going wrong in her life.  She is a very strong character that readers will really be drawn to.  I think that Marc's character was very well written, I disliked him from the very first page and I felt that he was the perfect baddie. I couldn't have loved Sam more and I also adored Frankie.  I was delighted to learn that this is the first book in a series because these are all characters that I can't wait to meet again.  Although this is part of a series, I think that this book really stands out on it's own.  A lot of books that are first in a series ends on a huge cliffhanger, but this one told a story of its own that will also allow it to be picked up in the next book and carried on.

The Girl I Was Before is full to the brim with laughs and is brilliantly funny.  The wit and humour contained within the pages of The Girl I Was Before is what makes it such a bright and brilliant debut, by a very talented author.  I am so looking forward to the next installment in this series and to see where Lily's story will take her next.  I loved how it got straight into the story from the first chapter and flowed really well.  Izzy Bayliss has written a real page turner and a story that flows very easily.  This is definitely a "one more chapter" kind of book, but of course one more chapter was never enough for me.  Because the book had many shorter chapters, it was very easy to read, as I find that books with very few long chapters can be very monotonous, and stops the story from flowing as easily as they should.  This is a light read, that can be enjoyed at any time of year and is a real page turner, full of laughter and cake! What more could you possibly want in a book?

The Girl I Was Before is the perfect book to escape into and to cuddle up with on these cold, dark nights that are so quickly approaching.  Izzy Bayliss is a brilliant new Irish author that will definitely leave her mark on the Irish writing scene.  I couldn't have loved this book more and it is the best debut that I have read this year.  I will be counting down until I am able to get my hands on the next installment in the Lily McDermott series.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.

5 stars

The Secret by Kathryn Hughes

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in return for an an honest review via Bookbridgr.

Mary Roberts managed to take her biggest secret to her grave, but now that her five year old Grandsons life may depend on her daughter, Beth, figuring out exactly what that secret is.  Beth's son needs a kidney, and as Beth and her Husband Michael are not a match, his life depends on whether or not Beth can find out the true identity of her father.  Shortly after Mary's funeral, Beth finds a newspaper clipping of a tragic bus accident that took place forty years previously and with it a letter that will change Beth's life forever, and may just hold to key to finding out who her father is.  But, there are more surprises than that in store for Beth, as The Secret takes us on a journey, telling two stories, one from 1976 and one from 2016, showing how one moment can change the lives of so many.

I must admit that I have The Letter sitting on my bookshelf since it came out last year and somehow, it still sits there, unread.  I have now moved it to the top of y to be read pile, because if it is half as good as The Secret, it's going to be an absolute corker of a read.  The Secret is a powerful book that I think will stay with me for a very long time.  As an avid reader, I have come across a lot of books that have left their mark on me, but The Secret definitely stands out from the crowd.  This book has is all.  It has it's funny moments, moments that will make you cry and moments that will shock you.  It also has an air of mystery to it and so many twists and turns thrown in, the reader will feel like they're on a rollercoaster.  An absolutely stunning tale of heartbreak and hope, The Secret, is brilliantly written and tells a truly magnificent story.

Each and every one of the characters in this book are excellently written and developed superbly.  From Beth and Mary to Selwyn and Petula, each character is penned with so much love and comes with enough background information to make the reader feel as if they have known these characters their entire lives.  The characters in The Secret are genuinely some of the best written characters that I have come across, across and fiction genre and when I had finished reading the book, I was sad to have to leave these brilliant characters, who had become friends, behind me.

For me, the fact that the book tells two stories, forty years apart, that are both somehow entwined is what makes The Secret so special.  I have read a few books in the past that have been told in this way, but no other author has been able to master this way of storytelling quiet like Kathryn Hughes.  I adore how this book focuses on many different characters, as opposed to just one main character throughout.  The Secret exceeded all of my expectations and is a book that I will return to again and again in the future.

The Secret is a stunning, utterly perfect tale of hope and of heartbreak, that will leave you on the edge of your seat, screaming for more.  Beyond anything that I could ever have expected, I am a little bit  upset that I will never again be able to experience this book for the first time.  If you only read one book this year, let it be this one.  The Secret is s huge eye opener and shows us how one moment in time can effect so many lives and futures.  Full of twists and turns that I never saw coming, I don't see how any other book that I will read this year will even come close to being as spectacular as this one.  The Secret will break your heart but leave it full of joy.  A truly spectacular story.

5 stars

Cover Reveal: Heath, Cliffs and Wandering Hearts by Laura Barnard

Today I am delighted to share the cover of Laura Barnard's new book, Heath, Cliffs and Wandering Hearts.

 The Blurb:

Life for sixteen year old Savannah Franks has just been turned upside down. Her Mum’s business has failed and they’re forced to move into a maisonette in the rough end of town.

She doesn’t want anyone to know her dire situation, not even her besties. So when the rest of the money for the school ski trip is due she can’t be seen not to attend. Everyone is going! She just needs to find a job. Add that to the list of getting a boyfriend and losing her pathetic virginity.

But working every spare hour in a job she hates on top of school work and mounting secrets doesn’t prove easy. Soon she’s keeping so many she’s not even sure herself what’s true and what’s not.

The only person she can lean on to tell the truth is her best friend Heath.

Only…did he get hot recently? That won’t make things awkward between them…right?

Heath, Cliffs and Wandering Hearts will be published in ebook and paperback on October 17th 2016.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

BLOG TOUR: Love Is... by Haley Hill

I would like to thank the publishers for an arc copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

Ellie Rigby is a matchmaker.  She's great at getting couples together, but getting them to stay together is proving to be difficult.  Recently, Ellie has attended more divorce parties than weddings, so she decides that in order to keep the couples together, she needs to find out why people divorce.  With a dream of helping her clients find their happily ever afters, Ellie embarks on a journey, meeting many professionals, including divorce lawyers and couples therapists, in a bid to find out the causes of divorce, so that her clients can find the one and live a happy life.  But while Ellie is trying to find happy endings for other couples, her own relationship is struggling.  After three failed attempts at IVF, Ellie and her husband, Nick, have come to the realisation that they are not going to be parents, which has made them grow further and further apart.  Now Nick has been offered a new job, which could be the making of the couple, the only problem is they need to up sticks and move from their London home and live across the pond in New York City.  Ellie soon needs to decide on what matters to her most, her job or her marriage.  Can Ellie find out how to keep her own marriage together or is she too busy trying to keep her clients together to focus on her own relationship?

This is the first book that I have read by Haley Hill and I must day that I absolutely adored it.  Love Is... is such a funny, light hearted read that had me crying with laughter throughout.  The hilarious scenes and witty comments are what made this book that diamond that it is and kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish.  The pages seemed to turn themselves and I had the book finished in next to no time.  One more chapter turned into two and before I knew it the book was finished.  Everytime I picked this book it was impossible to put it down again.

Ellie is just the most delightful character and I fell in love with her from the very first page.  Having been through a lot in her personal life, I admire how strong and independent she is, and I loved her fun, bubbly personality.  Ellie's best friend, Matthew, is so charming and funny.  I found his characters sense of humour to be amusing and hilarious.  I want him as my own best friend! The chemistry between Ellie and Matthew seemed to just flow off the page and I love how brilliantly their friendship is penned. I'm still not sure what exactly I think of the character of Nick.  While his character did nothing to make me dislike him, I found him to be a bit cold at times and it wasn't until I got to the last twenty percent of the book that I started warming to his character.

I think that this is a fantastic story and I just love the idea of it.  It was a huge pleasure to read this book, as it genuinely made me laugh out loud and left me with a huge smile on my face.  The greatest gift an author can give a reader is laughter and Haley Hill has given that by the bucket load.

Love Is... is effortlessly funny.  I cried so many tears of laughter during the course of reading this book.  Unputdownable from start to finish, Love Is... is a great summer read, but will also brighten up those dark winter nights by the fire, that are just around the corner.  There is nothing left for me to say about this book except that I loved it and I can't recommend it enough.

4 stars

Friday, 9 September 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche by Kate Forster

I would like to thank the publishers for an arc copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

The Last Will and Testament if Daphne Le Marche begins when Daphne is eighty years old and on her death bed.  Focusing on Daphne's life, the book takes us to Paris in 1956, where an eighteen year old Daphne steps off a bus into the bright and bustling city of Paris, armed with a suitcase full of her own homemade cosmetics, knowing and hoping that she is destined for more than what life has already given her.  Now, in 2016, Daphne, the creator of one of the most iconic scents in the world and owner of her own cosmetics company has dies and has left her business to her two Granddaughters.  But, not even they could have guessed the secrets that their Grandmother was hiding and what is to come their way next.  The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche takes us on an trip to London and France, spanning decades, that is full of secrets, heartbreak, scandal and teaches us that their is nothing more important than family.

Surprisingly, this is the first book that I have read by Kate Forster, but it definitely won't be the last! I'm not sure how this author managed to stay under my radar for so long but now that I have found her, I am looking forward to discovering her back catalogue.

I thought that this book would be a lighthearted, chick-lit book, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  This book is so much more than that and has taught me not to judge a book by its cover.  I was so pleasantly surprised at what was contained inside the pages of this book.  The story had such an air of mystery  and scandal to it, which really sucks the reader in and spits them back out again.  There are so many twists and turns in this book, which is hard to find in books of any genre, that the reader is kept entertained and on the edge of their seat throughout.  I read this book in one sitting, a feat that I have not been able to achieve before now.

I just adored Daphne and everything about her.  More books should have strong independent main females characters like her.  Her character was so wise and stopped at nothing to achieve her dream.  Yes, she did have her own fair share of scandal, but she really is a role model in that she knew what was important to her and she let nothing and noone stand in her way.  I also loved her Granddaughters.  The way that they were able to pull together and find strength when the going got tough is very insightful, even with all that they are faced with in the aftermath of Daphne's death.

The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche is a beautifully written, spellbinding tale or how one woman chased her dream.  Brilliantly written, showing that the author has a serious talent for storytelling that I just want to shout about from the rooftops.  Easily one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  An utter delight from start to finish!

5 stars

Thursday, 8 September 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Ex Factor by Eva Woods

I would like to thank the publishers for an arc copy of this book via netgalley in return for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

When Marnie returns home to London after spending two years travelling to different parts of South America, she's single and looking for love.  To Marnie's surprise she soon finds out that she isn't the only one.  After the breakup of her friends various relationships, Helen, Ani and Rosa are all single too.  With the four women now in their thirties, they decide that there is no time like the present to find love.  Rather than follow the latest craze and join an internet dating website, the girls decide to set each other up with one if their own exes.  We follow the girls on their quest for love, dating each others exes and having fun along the way.

After reading a few heavy crime novels, this was exactly the light hearted read that I needed.  The Ex Factor had me in fits of laughter throughout and I found that I had the book read in no time.  The pages seemed to turn themselves and one more chapter was never enough.  The Ex Factor is a total breath of fresh air and I love that it doesn't take itself too seriously.

The thing that I loved the most about this book is that it switches between the point of views of each of the four characters.  I love a book that is told in this way because I feel that it allows the reader to get to know the characters better than if the story is told from one characters viewpoint.  As far as main characters go, Marnie, Helen, Rosa and Ani are some of the best developed characters that I have read in this genre to date.  Each came with a brilliantly developed back story.  From the very beginning of this book, I felt as though I knew each of the girls for years and that they are close personal friends of mine.  Each character is so different and their individual personalities really shine through to make this book the gem that it is.

The cover is bold and beautiful and signifies the perfect summer read, which is exactly what this book is.  The Ex Factor has a cover that would definitely attract my attention for the shelves in the bookshop.

The Ex Factor is a fantastic read that takes a look at dating in the modern world, with lots of twists and turns thrown in along the way, taking the characters and the reader on one hell of a journey.  Full of witty comments and funny scenes that will have the reader laughing out loud from the word go, The Ex Factor is a superb read from start to finish.  If you are looking for the perfect read to accompany you to the beach or to cuddle up on the sofa with, then look no further than The Ex Factor.  Eva Woods has written one cracker of a story and she must be applauded for her ability to make people laugh.  I loved every moment that I spent with this book.  I really can't recommend The Ex Factor enough, who doesn't need to lose themselves in a hilarious and highly entertaining book for a few hours.  You won't regret reading it.

4 stars

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington

I would like to thank the publishers, Harper Collins, for an arc copy of this book in return for a honest review.

Olly Guinness hasn't had it easy lately, his thirteen year old daughter nearly dies from alcohol poising just weeks before he tragically loses his beloved father, Pops, to Cancer.  Olly realises that he has lost control of his life, he had no job, due to  being made redundant a year previously and he and his wife, Mae, are growing further and further apart with every passing day.  But Pops wasn't going to leave his family without giving them one last surprise.  When the Guinness family return home from Pops' funeral, there is a camper van waiting for them in the driveway.  They soon learn that Pops is sending them on an eight week trip around Europe, in Nomad, their new campervan.  After a few false starts, we follow Olly, Mae and their to children, Evie and Jamie as they take the trip of a lifetime around Europe.  What follows is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of how one family learned how to enjoy every moment and to 'leave nothing unsaid'.

This was the book that I was most anticipating this year, and I am more than a little bit delighted to say that it exceeded my expectations in every way possible.  I am a huge fan of Carmel's books and I feel that The Things I Should Have Told You is her best so far.  This is beautifully written book, that I loved from start to finish.  I loved the idea of this book, and ordinary family, not without their fair share of problems, setting off on the adventure of a lifetime, guided by Pops, who is sadly no longer with them.

I adored that the first chapter of the book is told from Pops point of view.  This gives us a little insight into Pops life and I think that it really helped to set the story.  From chapter two onwards, each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the four members of the Guinness family.  I love that the story is written like this, because it allowed me to get to know each character better and it allows us to follow the family's adventure from the point of view of both the adults and the children.

The biggest appeal in this book is without a doubt the characters.  Olly, Mae, Evie, Jamie and Pops are some of the most relatable characters that I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  There are so many people in Ireland, and indeed all over the world, who can relate to what the family are going through.  There are not many people left in the world today, who hasn't been affected by Cancer in one way or another.  For many, who have lost a loved one to this horrible disease, they will be able to relate to what Olly and the rest of his family are going through.  Likewise, there are many people who can relate to Olly being made redundant and Mae having to work twice as hard just to make ends meet, while Olly becomes a stay at home dad and pushes his family away, due to shame and frustration.  It is Evie who I can relate to the most.  Having been bullied myself when I was younger, I found that I was really able to relate to Evie and what she is going through at the beginning of the book.  Carmel was able to get the feelings of the characters in relation to these issues across, while still dealing with that in a sensitive light, and for that she must be applauded.

The Things I Should Have Told You made me cry tears of sadness and of joy, sometimes simultaneously.  It is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures.  It was such a pleasure to join the Guinness family on their trip through France, Germany, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Italy.  I cherished how the letters from Pops lead the family through their journey and his gorgeous letters left me with a huge lump in my throat on more than one occasion.  One of the best things about being a reader is that you get to travel to many different places with many different people, without ever leaving your home and I can honestly say that the time I have spent with the Guinness family is one of the best adventures that I have ever been on.

The Things I Should Have Told You was everything I wanted it to be and more.  It's funny, smart and insightful.  Beautifully written and it is evident that Carmel has put her heart and soul into writing this gem of a book.  I could have easily have devoured this book in one sitting, but I am so glad that I chose to savour this book over the course of a few days.  Everytime I closed the book, I imagined that the Guinnesses were happily involved in whatever activity I left them at, and that made me smile.  This book has the most beautiful ending that I never would have seen coming.  The Things I Should Have Told You left me with a huge smile on my face and when I closed the cover or the final time, a little bit of my heart remained between the pages.

5 stars

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