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Friday, 28 April 2017

Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - with added penguin!


Hello all!  I trust you have all had a fairly decent week! Been a good one here as I finally got to visit the penguins at Southend Sea Life Centre! I am so easily pleased!!  Now I'm just trying to figure out a way to snuggle one home with me on my next visit!!  Not sure Archie the bunny would be too pleased!

Bookwise it has been a very good one!! Managed to take part in the #cosyreadingnight on Sunday night hosted by Lauren and the books (check out her YouTube and Twitter channels!), and that was lovely just to sit for 3 hours with a few books I'd chosen before, and lots of snacks and a candle burning, and just read!  Must do that more often I think and not be distracted by the evil internet!! 


BOOKS FINISHED

5 books in total all finished this week! Please click on the title for a link to my GoodReads reviews!












Books Bought


Zero!!! Yes you've read that right!! Thought it best this week with the haul I got on my birthday that I should steer well clear of any temptation! See my previous blog post if you'd like to see the beauties I did get for my birthday book haul!

Book Post



The lovely people at Readers First were kind enough to send another 2 wonderful looking books my way this week so here is a little more about both....


See You In September by Charity Norman


Cassy blew a collective kiss at them. 'See you in September,' she said. A throwaway line. Just words, uttered casually by a young woman in a hurry. And then she'd gone.

It was supposed to be a short trip - a break in New Zealand before her best friend's wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they'd see her again.

Having broken up with her boyfriend, Cassy accepts an invitation to stay in an idyllic farming collective. Overcome by the peace and beauty of the valley and swept up in the charisma of Justin, the community's leader, Cassy becomes convinced that she has to stay.

As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group's rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home - before Justin's prophesied Last Day can come to pass.

A powerful story of family, faith and finding yourself, See You in September is an unputdownable new novel from this hugely compelling author

Out 1st June 2017



Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell


"There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things."

Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after a failed magical duel results in the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee with the help of a mysterious foreign woman who may in fact be a spy in service to an enemy country. Unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magic even as he seeks out the true source of the curse. But when Kellen uncovers a conspiracy hatched by members of his own clan seeking to take power, he races back to his city in a desperate bid to outwit the mages arrayed against him before they can destroy his family.

Spellslinger is heroic fantasy with a western flavour.

Out 4th May 2017


Currently Reading


The Walworth Beauty by Michele Roberts

Downloaded this from the library via the Borrowbox app, and am really loving what I've read so far! Hope to finish it over the next couple of days.



We all Begin As Strangers by Harriet Cummings

The author very kindly sent me a copy of this and I'm currently racing through it and will be finishing it later today!


So there we have it! More weeks like that please!!  Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!


HAPPY READING


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Birthday Book Haul

It is that time of year again!!!  Time for me to pretend that I'm still 21 - oh, ok then 22!! - and dealing with all the aches and pains that come with getting another year older!!  Thankfully no grey hair.... yet! Must be the reading keeping me young!!  

But with getting older comes the bonus of books as birthday presents!! Was really stuck for ideas again this year so books are always a great present for me as I always seem to want ALL THE BOOKS!!  And the lack of shelf space never stops my need for 'collecting' so here's a little peek at the books that my lovely family (with the aid of a very long list from me!) have treated me to this year!!



A tower of 11!!!  Should keep me amused for a little while eh!!  So let's take an individual peek at each one!


 A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

have loved this series so much that I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all ends!

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

seduced by the cover on this one! Just hope what is inside is just as stunning!!


The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag
The Witches of Cambridge by Menna Van Praag

Was highly recommended this author by a friend who adored reading the House at the end of Hope Street, so I found this set of 3 with such cute covers!!



Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Anything Alice In Wonderland related is fine by me!!  Not read anything by this author before so hoping for very good things!!

The Little Bookshop of Promises by Debbie Macomber

I have always loved reading and escaping into the books of this author - add a bookshop to the mix and I'm sold with bells on!!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon  

One of those books that I'd not normally choose but have heard so many good things that it got added to the list!  Hope it doesn't let me down!

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham     

I love watching Chris Packham on TV and can't wait to read more about his childhood and the issues he has gone through growing up

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill

Another book I've heard so many good things about via BookTube that it just sounded right up my street! And another gorgeous cover!!




So, there we have it!!  Not sure what one to read first as they all appeal so if you think I should start with a certain one in particular then please leave a comment!  I need all the assistance I can on the choosing front right now as it is just getting more and more difficult! Maybe that is an age thing too?!!!  

Off now to set the zimmer frame up...... HAPPY READING!!













Wednesday, 26 April 2017

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt - book review



THE BLURB


When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden - thirty two years old and still living at home - immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie's unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie's uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.



Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.


'Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away' Paula Hawkins


Out May 2nd 2017


More about Lizzie Borden via Wikipedia


Hive.co.uk - buy online and support your local bookstore - £10.65 hardback pre-order


Amazon UK  £6.49  Kindle Edition


Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

MY REVIEW

I do love the books I read to be a little out of the ordinary - in subject matter or writing style - and this book certainly fits into that 'out there' category !!  You might remember the story as more of a skipping rope song than just a grissly murder, and I have to say that I knew very little of the Bordens' or the events of that night, but since finishing this wonderfully dark book then I've been obsessed with reading all I can about that event and those involved!

It is an astonishing debut as I found that the author tells the story in a really compelling way.  Taking it in turns with each chapter to share the viewpoint of the main protagonists, and that really built up the backstory and the present so well.  There is very little empathy to be had with many of the characters but there are little glimpses into their lives that shows you how they had seemingly suffered that you find yourself warming, only a little!, to their situation.  It shows life in a very unhappy family and just how resentment, hatred and tension builds up and festers within people, until they reach a tipping point and then......

The story centres around events leading up to and that day in question in 1892 when Lizzies' father and stepmother were brutally murdered in their home, and we follow the plot via the viewpoints of four different characters, the main ones being Lizzy and her sister Emma.  I found the story from Bridget, the housekeeper, a fascinating one too!  And their stories are enthralling and captivating with a very dark edge that just keeps you turning the pages wanting more details - or maybe that's just my twisted side showing itself again!

I'd highly recommend this to those of you looking for something different from a read and one that allows you to peek behind the net curtains as to the events that led up to such an awful crime.

Thank you to Georgina Moore, Publicity Books and Tinder Press for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull Blog Tour - excerpt and review




Extremely delighted to be part of this wonderful  Blog Tour today and to share my thoughts, as well as an excerpt to give you a little taster of what is in store for you if - that should be when! - you get hold of this book.  Trust me!! You need this book on your shelves!


THE BLURB


In Edwardian England, aeroplanes are a new, magical invention, while female pilots are rare indeed.

When shy Della Dobbs meets her mother's aunt, her life changes forever. Great Auntie Betty has come home from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, across whose windswept dunes the Wright Brothers tested their historic flying machines. Della develops a burning ambition to fly and Betty is determined to help her.

But the Great War is coming and it threatens to destroy everything - and everyone - Della loves.

Uplifting and page-turning, THE WILD AIR is a story about love, loss and following your dreams against all odds.


Publication Date  4th May 2017


Amazon UK £18.99 hardback




Rebecca has kindly allowed me to share an excerpt from the book so without further ado...


prologue


 1918 



‘I’m not going to die here,’ she said.
      Della talked aloud to herself. She did that when it was marvellous and she revelled in the complete wonder of flying, the secret joy of it. Or when it was bad. When the mist came down or the wind got up something terrible and she was fighting the weather in order to come back alive. There’d been patches of thick fog over the Channel that morning, a scrap here and there of blue-sky clarity but otherwise a freezing soup of white. The effort to stay straight and sane in that blindness was gruelling.

 It was bitterly cold up there. Despite the woolly scarf covering her mouth, she could still taste the smoke. Sprits of black oil were flung back at her, not much but constant, insidious, landing inky on her goggles. But she mustn’t try to wipe it yet; the oil would just smear and then she wouldn’t be able to see a thing; she’d have to lift them and expose her eyes to the smut and the filth. The airflow from the propeller alone assailed her at a hundred miles per hour or more. The wind was the air turned angry. It swatted and swiped at her.

 The engine was roaring, the rushing wind deafening. When she spoke to calm herself she couldn’t hear the words, but just mouthing them gave comfort. She could hear them in her mind. They were the only things there. Her head was empty when she flew, as empty as the sky above. It was your body that did the flying. You have to feel it in every muscle, be a part of it, become it.

She spoke again: ‘I’ve got the touch.’

    They always said that about her, She’s got the touch. She can feel yaw in her bones, knows where the air is coming from and how it’ll lift or drop. She can step into an aeroplane and strap it on and fly. It’s a kind of magic trick. After all, it’s simply deflecting air. It’s preposterous. Only a fool would do it, some said. There’s no road to steer on like an automobile, no brake to apply, no side track to save you. It’s freedom and it’s fear, all at once.

 ‘Not far now,’ she told herself, as if comforting a child. ‘The sea’s behind us.’

 The land scrolled beneath like a toy farm, glowing squares of light here and there marking life and habitation, hearth and home. It would be peaceful if it weren’t for the clamour of the wind and the engine. But then, she smelt fuel. Stronger, keener. Then sputtering, then the engine stopped. Failed utterly. The horror of it froze her. Within a second, the aeroplane was pitching forwards, its power gone. Her hands gripped the stick. Terror took hold and the animal part of her mind longed for the ground to come, for the impact and the destruction, for it all to be over. The exertion necessary to fly, to concentrate, to save yourself, was exhausting. At least death would mean rest.

 ‘Must keep the nose down. Must land,’ she said, her voice high and shrill, shocking her out of her stupefaction, and she grasped the stick and eased her feet on the rudder bar to bank into position for landing. Seeing a field to the right, with its flat acres of mud beckoning to her, she pitched the nose down and hoped to heaven the undercarriage wouldn’t smash into that line of poplars edging the field. As she struggled to maintain control, her machine pitched forwards, the ground hurling itself at her face, and the thought leapt into her mind that she had failed him, by crashing, by abandoning him to his fate, by dying.



My Review

It is always a reading delight to find a book that both entertains, enthralls and informs, and Rebecca Mascull has done it again with this story that features a young girl who has a passion for flight. Not so usual for a young girl in the Edwardian period but along the way she finds plenty of inspiration and never gives up on her dream.

Della Dobbs is at the heart of this story and is such an quiet, unassuming young child that as a reader you are immediately drawn to her in the hope that she finds her way and is set free from the constraints of her home life which are very much controlled by her father who is very strict, set in his ways and extremely boorish. Della finds her escape by riding her bike and learning to fix it - all very unladylike!

Her Aunt Betty is soon a visitor to the UK from America, and Della seems in awe immediately by this woman who isn't afraid of her brother in law and has seemingly lived such an exciting life. Betty takes Della under her wing and gives her a new found confidence through flying and building kites and soon talks of the planes she saw in flight in America - Della is smitten! Della has so many insecurities as a child thanks to her home life that it is amazing the effect that some attention from another family member has on her and allows her to flourish and find her feet.

The relentless determination and passion Della shows to become a female pilot is extremely inspiring and nothing is ever going to stop her - she does encounter a number of knockbacks and hurdles but they only seem to spur her on to achieve greater things.

Her career as an Aviatrix is soon halted due to the First World War and this added another dimension to the story - the fact that less qualified pilots were allowed to fly as they were male, and women such as Della were grounded through that time. 

At the end of the book the author has also included notes about her research and some amazing women she encountered along the way and it is fascinating to read of these inspiring women who we know very little of. And how the fear of women pilots is still being played out today in the modern world.

This is a wonderful blend of historical fiction and romance, as we follow Della from childhood to first loves and all her accomplishments, and such an inspiring read which has been so well researched and beautifully written that you are totally swept up in her world and I couldn't put this book down until I had finished it!! Highly Recommended!!


It has been such a delight to be part of the Blog Tour today!  Please head over to www.alwaysreading.net tomorrow for more and check out the Blog Tour poster below for where else to stop by!



Other books by Rebecca Mascull

The Visitors    



Friday, 21 April 2017

Bookish Weekly Wrap Up!


Good Day to you! And Happy National Tea Day!!  Ooh I do love a nice cuppa and have to thank my grandparents for that addiction - I still remember being served very sweet tea in the most beautiful bone china tea cups whenever we went to visit!  That's why I always do my best to hunt out a cafe where they serve Tea the proper way!  None of your plastic cup rubbish for me!!

Anyway, getting back to the books!  Hope you've all had a lovely bookish week!  Been a mixed bag here! Some good reads, some not so good and only one new addition to the bookshelf chaos! See, told you I can be good! Probably won't be the same next week as my birthday (21st yet again!!) is next week and all I've requested is books!! What else is there to get??!!  Now, on to the books that have kept me amused this week!

BOOKS FINISHED

Mixed things up here this week with some graphic novel reads and loved the experience so will definitely be looking out for more to read! Any suggestions always welcome of what are the best graphic novels to read! Click on the title of each book if you'd like to see my GoodReads review!




















Always a little disappointing not to enjoy a couple of the books, but I guess  you have to experience the bad (in your opinion as others might love them!) to appreciate the good even more!!

BOOKS BOUGHT

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees

Left to perish on a bank of snow as a baby, Amy has never known love, never known family.

Reluctantly given shelter at nearby Hatville Court, she is despised by the masters and servants alike.

The beautiful Hatville heiress, Aurelia Vennaway, is Amy's only advocate - she becomes the light of Amy's life, and the centre of her existence.

So when Aurelia dies young, Amy's world collapses. But Aurelia leaves Amy with one last gift.

A bundle of letters with a coded key. A treasure hunt that only Amy can unlock.

A life-changing secret awaits... if only she can reach it


Current Reads

Somehow she'd always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name...

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat, on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the carpet. A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back to the city of her birth, her future uncertain, her past in tatters. But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know is that in investigating the death of one friendless old lady, her own life will become enriched beyond measure. 

The Other Mrs Walker - a detective story with no detective - is a beautiful, beguiling and intensely moving debut.



COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It's about never following the herd.
And everyone is going to be talking about it.
 


The job of the skin is to keep things in.

On the buttoned-down island of Here, all is well. By which we mean: orderly, neat, contained and, moreover, beardless.

Or at least it is until one famous day, when Dave, bald but for a single hair, finds himself assailed by a terrifying, unstoppable... monster*!

Where did it come from? How should the islanders deal with it? And what, most importantly, are they going to do with Dave?

The first book from a new leading light of UK comics, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is an off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl. It is about life, death and the meaning of beards.

(*We mean a gigantic beard, basically.)
 




There we have it!  Hope you've enjoyed a little peek into my reading habits this week!  

Happy Reading!!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh - Book Review



THE BLURB

Timothy Gandy has kept his lifetime's ambition secret for forty years.

Now, suddenly (if tragically) released from the hen-pecked tedium of his ordinary existence, he is unexpectedly free to realize his dreams.

He will embark on a Grand Tour of Europe, following in the footsteps of the aristocrats of the eighteenth century.

He anticipates high art, culture and pleasant weather. He never expected to encounter new friendships - and possibly even love - along the way.

It seems that Mr Gandy has embarked on the journey of a lifetime...

Hardback - out now
Paperback - out 4th May 2017

 £7.25 paperback pre-order

  £7.99 paperback pre-order





My Review

They say you find the right book for the right time, and this was definitely one of those experiences! A grey cloudy bank holiday, and feeling under the weather I was looking for an escape read and this delivered rewardingly on that front!

This is the story of Timothy Gandy who has lived a very normal and comfortable life, with his wife and 3 children and never seemed to really expect much out of life. But a sudden sad event gives him the momentum to live out his dream of experiencing a Grand Tour and to travel throughout Europe. And for a quiet, recently retired man it brings about some unexpected revelations!

I love the way Alan Titchmarsh writes as he really allows the reader to connect with the characters and the circumstances they find themselves in. We get glimpses of family life, and it is fascinating to live inside Timothys' head as he encounters new experiences and how life ends up often surprising you. 

His children are all so different and it was fascinating to see how he interacted with all of them, and how his thoughts about them could be so far from the truth - when space and time apart allows them all to be honest with each other.

This was a really enjoyable read and did a wonderful job of brightening up my grey day!!

Thank you to the publishers and BookBridgr for the paperback copy in return for a fair and honest review.