Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Tag

Happy belated Christmas everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful day! I've been a bit absent lately, and so as the lull between Christmas and New Year begins it's time to finally have a catch up!

I came across this tag over on Jillian's Books and thought it might be fun to have a go!

How much do you love snow?
Easy question, A LOT. Waking up and opening your curtains to find the world covered with snow is one of the most magical feelings in the world. And I actually had that feeling this morning! It was only a light dusting but it made my day!

How do you eat your gingerbread men? Head first or feet first?
I have to eat the head first and get it out of the way. I'm one of those people who feels bad eating things shaped like people/animals. Jelly babies, chocolate rabbits, you name it and I have to eat the head first. Silly but true.

Do you like seasonal reading? Do you specifically seek out books set around winter during winter?
I do but I hardly ever get them all read haha! …

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Read this Year!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This past year has flown by - I've just realised that I actually missed my first blogiversary two days ago! I've read many great books this year, but I actually found this list relatively easy to compile, you know a good book when you read one! So without further ado, here are my top picks that I've read this year:

There are two books I read this year that went straight onto the all-time favourites list, and interestingly they are very similar in theme, Full of 'magic', mystery and illusion, thy transport you completely into another world. The Illusionists has a plot that will grip you from the very first page, whilst the feats of imagination described in The Night Circus are just stunning. I can't recommend them enough.

I won The Secret Place in a Goodreads giveaway, and admittedly it isn't to my usual taste, but I found myself  hooked! Gripping, tense, and brilliantly written. 

Season of Li…

Blog Tour / Giveaway: The Twelfth Night Wager by Regan Walker

Now that December is here I can finally break out the Christmas themed books. I've had to restrain myself until now and have quite a list to get through this month, so watch this space! Today I'm excited to be hosting the blog tour for The Twelfth Night Wager by Regan  Walker. I really loved this book, and now can't wait to read the rest of Regan's work! Read on for a synopsis, review and a giveaway to win a Twelve  Days of Christmas Bracelet. I know I'll be entering!

It was a dull day at White’s, the day he agreed to the wager: seduce bed and walk away from the lovely Lady Leisterfield, all by Twelfth Night. This holiday season, Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, planned to give himself a gift.

She was too proper by half—or so was the accusation of her friends, which was why her father had to find her a husband. But Lord Leisterfield was now gone a year, and Grace was at last shedding the drab colors of mourning. The hous…

Review: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Meet Johanna Morrigan, an embarrassment unto herself and her family. It's time for Johanna to die. Not literally of course. She must die so a that new girl can be built, rising from the ashes of her former self.

Meet Dolly Wilde, a wild child music critic renowned for her devil-may-care attitude, her scathing reviews, and her trademark top hat. At sixteen years old she is a smoking, drinking 'Lady Sex Adventurer', determined to save her family from financial ruin and make a name for herself in the process. But as her exploits gets wilder and her reputation gets worse, Dolly starts to doubt herself. Is this really the kind of girl that she wants to be? Or is it time to tear herself down and start again?

I was lucky enough to see Caitlin Moran at Cheltenham Literature Festival this year (free front row tickets - being a volunteer certainly has its perks!) and she was just hilarious. Since then I have been desperate to get my hands on her debut novel, and I wasn't disappoi…

Review: Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

I, along with I suspect the majority of all English Literature graduates, am well versed in all things Jane Austen. Admittedly I'm not her biggest fan (some of her books I love, others not so much), but when I heard about The Austen Project - the idea of popular authors updating her work and setting it in the 21st century - I was intrigued. I enjoyed Val McDermid's interpretation of Northanger Abbey (my review of which can be found here), and so I was eager to see what the next installment in the series would bring. Sense and Sensibility isn't one of my favourite Austen novels, but I did see an excellent stage adaptation of it this summer by Chapterhouse Theatre Company which reignited my interest in it. Despite her impressive back catalogue, I hadn't read any of Trollope's work before, so I had no preconceptions of what to expect from her.

Of course I knew exactly what to expect from the plot, which made it very easy to follow, almost too easy. The county estates, …

Review: The Chestnut Tree by Jo Thomas

When Ellie Russet leaves home and her restaurant in the wake of disaster to housesit in the Kent countryside, the last thing she wants to do is cook for a living - ever again.

Ellie's new neighbour, Daniel Fender, is struggling to make ends meet as a furniture maker. Could the answer to his problems lie in the chestnut orchard at the bottom of the garden?

Only Ellie can help Daniel unlock the delicious secret that will bring them the fresh starts they need. And as autumn approaches, romance will blossom amid the glowing embers of the chestnut fire...

I started this story as soon as I finished The Oyster Catcher, also by Jo Thomas. The themes in both are very similar: outsider girl meets outsider boy and they try to integrate into the local community. Being from a tiny village myself I can completely relate- we too have a few 'blow-ins' from towns and cities; some happily throw themselves into village life whilst others we barely see! Suspicion of newcomers is therefore entire…

Review: The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas

Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.
But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.
One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.
Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...

As I have mentioned in previous posts I had got myself into a bit of a rut with chick-lit; I'd read so many that even the not so predictable ones had become predictabl…

Review: The Proposal by Tasmina Perry

A magnificent, moving epic with a haunting secret love story at its heart, which will sweep you from present-day Manhattan to London in 1958 - the year of the last debutantes. 1958. At eighteen, Georgia Hamilton is sent to London for the Debutante Season. Independent, and with secret dreams to be a writer, she has no wish to join the other debs competing for a husband. But when tragedy strikes, her fate appears to have been sealed. 2012. Hurrying to meet her lover, Amy Carrell hopes tonight will change her destiny. And it does - but not in the way she imagined. Desolate and desperate to get out of London, she accepts a position as companion to a mysterious stranger, bound for Manhattan - little knowing she is about to unlock a love story that has waited fifty years to be told. And a heart waiting to come back to life...

I had never read any of Tasmina Perry's other books prior to starting The Proposal, so I had no idea what to expect! The book was very well written with great char…

Blog Tour: Third Time Lucky by Pippa Croft

Today I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for Third Time Lucky by Pippa Croft! I've really enjoyed reading this series!
Third Time Lucky – #3 in the Oxford Blue Series by Pippa Croft
Published by Penguin (October 9, 2014)
Each book in the series can also be read as a standalone
Previous novels are available on NetGalley

'It's Sister Dixon from the Royal Infirmary here. I'm sorry to tell you that Captain Hunt has been involved a serious incident.'
Lauren Cusack should be on her way home for an holiday in Washington before her final term at Wyckham College, Oxford. But this call changes everything. Her relationship with impossibly handsome aristocrat Alexander Hunt has been turbulent and Lauren knows she needs to walk away. Yet now as she rushes to his side she knows she will be inevitably sucked back into his world. And sure enough, Alexander - even a seriously injured Alexander - is an intoxicating cocktail Lauren cannot resist and despite everything that is…

Blog Tour: The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels

Today I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for the Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels!

Publication Date: October 21, 2013 | Booktrope Editions | Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p Genre: Historical Fiction READ AN EXCERPT.
2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction.

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova's luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? Casanova's will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

Praise for The Secrets of Casanova
“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels's debut novel puts a brilliantly original s…

Cheltenham Literature Festival

I'm very excited to announce that I'm part of the volunteer team at Cheltenham Literature Festival this year! I stumbled upon it quite by accident last year (I just happened to be in the city visting my boyfriend when it was on) and fell instantly in love with it. I think this was primarily to do with the fact that Emma Thomspon was in town! I jumped at the chance to volunteer this year and now here I am, sat next to my suitcase preparing to travel down there tomorrow- it's a hefty five hour train journey from my home on the North Yorkshire Moors!

Celebrity highlights at the festival this year include Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral / Notting Hill), Dame Judi Dench, Brian Blessed, and Damian Lewis of Homeland fame (although I know him best as Soames from the Forsyte Saga). On the more traditional side of things there's talks with Ian McEwan (Atonement), David Nicholls (One Day), Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall), Nick Hornby (About a Boy) and Sarah Waters (Fingersm…

Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

'I know who killed him.'

Could these few words, posted on a notice board in an exclusive girls' boarding school, be Detective Stephen Moran's passport to the Murder Squad?

Moran is about to be plunged into the single most intense and nerve-shredding day of this life, investigating the story of a boy whose murder has remained unsolved for a year, and a group of girls on the verge of womanhood, who all seem to have something to hide.

Comtemporary crime fiction isn't usually my thing; the glamorous world of the 1930s and Agatha Christie are about my level when it comes to mystery and murder. But the premise of this story lured me in.The boarding school setting appealed instantly to me. It's strange how in children's literature boarding schools such as St Trinian's and Hogwarts are places of mayhem and cameraderie, but they become altogether more sinister and somewhat sordid in adult fiction.

The writing style drew me in from the very first page; it's incre…

Review: The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty

Through a massive stroke of luck, editorial assistant Alice Roberts finds herself on a plane to Sicily to work on the autobiography of Hollywood mega-star and bad boy Luther Carson. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and no-one is going to stand in her way, least of all Luther's bitchy co-star  Annabel or his arrogant agent Sam. But in such a beautiful location with such beautiful people, Alice can't help but feel out of place. With Luther off gallevanting and reluctant to spill his life-story, Alice needs to step up to the challenge and make this summer one to remember!

After spending some time in Italy this summer, I'm finding myself drawn to books set there. Call it a remedy for the post holiday blues; reading about it means I can pretend I'm still there! I got myself into a bit of a rut with chick-lit so I decided to avoid it for a while, but when I read the blurb for this novel I knew that I had to give it a go! I'm so glad that I did. Once I got into it I r…

Blog Tour: Ravensdale by Lucinda Elliot

Publication Date: April 18, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 260p
Genre: Historical Regency/Comedy-Spoof

When the group of highwaymen headed by the disgraced Earl of Little Dean, Reynaud Ravensdale hold up the hoydenish Isabella Murray’s coach, she knocks one of them down and lectures them all on following Robin Hood’s example.
The rascally Reynaud Ravensdale – otherwise known as the dashing highwayman Mr Fox – is fascinated by her spirit.
He escaped abroad three years back following his supposedly shooting a friend dead after a quarrel. Rumour has it that his far more respectable cousin was involved. Now, having come back during his father’s last illness, the young Earl is seeking to clear his name.
Isabella’s ambitious parents are eager to marry her off to Reynaud Ravensdale’s cousin, the next in line to his title. The totally unromantic Isabella is even ready to elope with her outlaw admirer to escape this fate – on condition that he teaches her how to be a highwaywoman herself.

Blog Tour: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth

Today I'm excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth. I really enjoyed this book, and you can can check out my review of it below! Publication Date: September 20, 2014 | Madison Street Publishing Formats: eBook, Paperback Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency/Romance

Synopsis From the author of the widely acclaimed The Widow's Redeemer, comes a new Regency romance from Philippa Jane Keyworth. Six years after being jilted without a word of explanation, Julia Rotherham finds Lucius Wolversley standing before her once again–unexpected, unannounced, unwelcome. With her heart still hurting and, more importantly, her pride, Julia must chaperone her younger sister, fend off fortune hunters, orchestrate a fake engagement, and halt an elopement–all whilst keeping the man who jilted her at arm’s length. But what Julia doesn’t know is that this time, the Earl has no intention of disappearing, and this time, he has more than an explanation to offer…


September Library Haul

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­former…

Personality Test: Which fictional characters are you most like?

So I came across this idea on tumblr, and thought it might be fun to do it over here.

The rules are simple: take the personality test here, then find out which characters share the same personality traits as you here. List the characters that you find relevant and tag a bunch of bloggers to do the same!

So, according to the test, my personality is INFP:
"You are one of the Diplomats - an empathic and idealistic individual who enjoys exploring interesting ideas and prizes morality. You are known for your poetic nature, intuitive skills and pure, childlike enthusiasm. "

These are just a few of the characters listed that matched my personality type:

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia
Frances "Baby" Houseman from Dirty Dancing
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby
Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon
Marius from Les Misérables
Christian from Moulin Rouge!
Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice
Romeo from Romeo and Juliet
Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility
The eponymous m…

The Book Reading Habits Tag

So a few weeks back the lovely Girl with her Head in a Book nominated me for the Book Reading Habits Tag. I'm not brave enough to booktube - that and it's difficult to get a quiet moment here with family lurking around - so for now written answers will have to suffice!

#1 - Do you have a certain place for reading at home?
Most of my reading is done in bed, although when I have a particularly gripping book on the go I have been known to carry it with me around the house and read it anywhere I get the chance to!

#2 - Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?
I have loads of bookmarks but they always seem to just disappear when I need them! I use tickets, old lists, basically anything that I have to hand when I need one. If I manage to actually find a bookmark even better.

#3 - Can you just stop reading or does it need to be at the end of a chapter or a certain number of pages?
The end of a chapter, always. Unless of course I fall asleep mid sentence, which I very often do!

#4 -…

Review: Ice Creams at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

Georgie Hart seems to have her life on track. The perfect job, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect life. Then she is given the challenge of
organising the first summer regatta for Mulberry-on-Sea, sponsored by Carrington's Department store! With the regatta looming, her father loose on the continent in a camper van and an opportunity state-side that is just too good to miss, Georgie finds herself pulled in all directions. This is the summer when Georgie will discover what she truly wants out of life.

I reviewed the previous book in the series, Christmas at Carringtons, here, in fact it was my first ever review on this blog! It's not necessary to read the Carrington's books in order -I haven't read the first one yet - but personally I enjoyed this story a lot more than the previous one.

As in the previous book, the slang annoyed me a bit; I've had enough of 'emosh' and 'amazeballs' to last a lifetime as it is so I don't want them in my books too (plu…

Review: Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Edinburgh, 'a city of infinite promise.'

For those of you unaware of the plot of the original Northanger Abbey, written by the great Jane Austen, it is a Gothic parody novel depicting the adventures of Catherine Morland, a young girl with an over-active imagination, and her relationship with a certain Mr Henry Tilney. In her re-imagining of the classic story, Val McDermid moves the action to modern-day Edinburgh during its world famous book festival, a literature lover's dream.

I went into this novel with high expectations, and to be perfectly honest the writing didn't grab me instantly. I found the narrative a little patronising towards Cat, but in hindsight perhaps this is intentional to highlight her naivety. It is more a retelling than a re-imagining as other reviewers have pointed out, with perhaps too much effort made to stick closely to the original plot instead of telling its own story.

That said, moving the setting from Bath to Edinburgh was a genius idea! The ch…

Blog Update: Kitten Shenanigans

After an unexpected mini-hiatus from blogging, I'm back! The reason for my absence can largely be
explained by this little fellow. His name is Walter and I found him out in a barn abandoned by his mother, stone cold and barely breathing. A week and a half of hot water bottles and cuddles later and he's toddling around the house biting everyone's toes. So cute! So now that he doesn't require quite as much constant attention it's time for a catch up - and I'm sure my laptop will provide a cosy place for him nap on too! I've a huge backlog of posts to write up, so expect to see a lot from me over the next few days!

August Library Haul #2

Yesterday brought my second library trip this month. It's always such a great feeling when you walk through the doors and not just one but TWO of the books at the top of your tbr list are sat on the 'just in' shelf waiting for you. Can't wait to get stuck in!

Petite Mort - Beatrice Hitchman
A silent film, destroyed in a fire in 1913 at the Pathé studio, before it was seen even by its director. A lowly seamstress, who makes the costumes she should be wearing, but believes her talent - and the secret she keeps too - will soon get her a dressing room of her own. A beautiful house in Paris, with a curving staircase, a lake, and locked rooms. A famous - and dashing - creator of spectacular cinematic illusions, husband to a beautiful, volatile actress, the most adored icon of the Parisian studios. All fit together, like scenes in a movie. And as you will see, this plot has a twist we beg you not to disclose...

India Black and the Gentleman Thief - Carol K Carr
India Black’s doub…

Review: Summer in Sorrento by Melissa Hill

Maia and her husband Jim, in a moment of spontaneity, bought an old farmhouse in Sorrento and moved their from their native Ireland for a change of pace once they hit their forties. A few years later and Maia is alone, mourning her husband and struggling to make ends meet. Along with her friend and house helper Camilla, Maia opens up her home as a Bed and Breakfast, and is surprised not only at the popularity of her home, but also by how much she enjoys being hostess. Each of her guests have their own stories to tell and problems to solve, and Maia finds herself loving every minute of it.

Having spent a few days in Sorrento myself this summer I couldn't help but be excited when I heard about this book. It  is one of the most magical and beautiful places I have ever visited and I would return there in a heartbeat. It is therefore not hard for me to believe Maia's story of her and Jim falling in love with the place and deciding to move there. Maia is a very likeable character, an…

Release Day / Giveaway: Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase

Today I'm excited to be part of the release day launch for Reluctantly Royal by Nichole Chase. This book sounds right up my street and I can't wait to read it! LOVE the cover too! Read on for a synopsis and excerpt, and don't forget to enter the giveaway. There's some brilliant prizes to be won: a signed set of the Royal trilogy, a gorgeous crown necklace and a $25 gift card!  I know I'll be entering!
Maxwell Jameson Trevor, prince of Lilaria, hates his royal role. Despising the limelight, he takes solace in his art studio and steers clear of any drama. But when one of the newly discovered royals passes away, Maxwell's brother Alex asks him to break the news to the old man's granddaughter. Though he hates to be the bearer of doom and gloom, he doesn't want the poor girl to find out from the tabloids. For Maxwell knows all too well how devastating that could be.

Coming from a broken home and modest background, newly ordained Lady Meredith Thysmer has se…