Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Blog Tour: And Baby Makes Four by Tilly Tennant



Mishaps in Millrise – a four-(novella)-part romantic spin-off from Mishaps and Mistletoe

Part 4 - And Baby Makes Four

Could Phoebe and Jack finally have put their troubles behind them? All is calm at Hendry’s toy store, and Jack’s mother has even developed a grudging respect for Phoebe. If Archie is serious about addressing his issues, then things are really starting to look rosy for the couple again. But when did Phoebe’s life ever go to plan?

As they prepare for what should be the happiest day of their lives, fate decides to throw them yet another curve ball. What they face will test them to the limit, but Phoebe might just believe in miracles before it’s through.


Buy links: Amazon UK    Amazon US

Review 
I'm always a little sad when a series comes to end, particularly one as good as this! Throughout the course of the four installments I've become quite attached to the characters, especially Phoebe. My favourite characters are still the adorable Maria and Midnight - so wacky that she deserves her own series- so I'm glad that they made an appearance! I've never been quite sure what to make of Jack, but he manages to redeem himself here, and he and Phoebe do make for a realistic couple, facing the trials of life together. Everything is wrapped up nicely in this final installment, but I do hope that we might read more about the characters in the future - I'd be interested in checking in with them in a couple of months to see how things are getting on! 
4/5 stars -  A great conclusion to the series, written with hunour and heart.

About the Author
Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing, graduating in 2009 with first class honours. She wrote her first novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. It was followed by Mishaps and Mistletoe and The Man Who Can't Be Moved. Find out more about Tilly and how to join her mailing list for news and exclusives at www.tillytennant.com
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Monday, 26 October 2015

Review: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming / Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

With the much anticipated film release of SPECTRE just around the corner, tonight in fact, this lifelong James Bond fan is in her element. However, I have to admit that I have actually read very few of the original books - Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd have both written credible additions to the Bond canon, Devil May Care and Solo respectively, and those I have read - but The Spy Who Loved Me was, until recently, the only one of Fleming's books that I remember reading! Around this time last year I was lucky enough to grab the boxed set of Fleming Bonds for £10 (yes, a tenner for the whole set, thanks The Book People!), but for some inexplicable reason they remained untouched, until now.

Again, it was around this time last year that I found out one of my all time favourite writers, Anthony Horowitz, had been commissioned to write the next James Bond book. For those unfamiliar with him -although regular readers of my blog will have seen many a post talking about his greatness - he is the man behind the frankly brilliant Alex Rider series of books, the books which actually got me into spy fiction in the first place! He's also written for TV shows including Midsomer Murders, Foyle's War and Agatha Christie's Poirot, all of which I love, and has written not just one but two Sherlock Holmes novels to boot. The man is a genius. Fangirling over, I reserved my library copy of Trigger Mortis the day it appeared on the catalogue. Then I discovered that it is written as a kind of sequel to Goldfinger. What better time to read an original James Bond book than right before it's sequel? As I read them back to back, it seemed only right that I wrote the reviews that way too - so here we go with my thoughts on Goldfinger and Trigger Mortis:

Yes it's sexist, misogynistic and every other feminist buzzword going, but original Bond is a product of it's time, and as with the films you have to read/watch them with that in mind. Personally I loved Goldfinger! In fact I would even go so far as to say I prefer the book to the film. As is always the case the James Bond books are far more detailed, and we got a much deeper understanding of Bond's psyche. Another huge surprise for me was that I actually found myself picturing Daniel Craig as Bond. I've always been a Pierce Brosnan girl myself but I have to admit that, minus the black hair, Craig suited Book Bond very well. Film Bond and Book Bond are almost two completely different characters, and while Craig doesn't quite fit in with his predecessors of the former, he encompasses the latter completely. Fleming's writing style is addictive, action packed and to the point - there's no fluffing around with too much description, or indeed character development which is perhaps the only downside. I couldn't put it down, and to be honest I didn't even notice the lack of character development until I thought about it just now, that's how absorbed in the story I was!

Setting Trigger Mortis straight after the events of Goldfinger was a great idea - not least because it gave me an excuse to read Fleming's work first! However this also inevitably leads to a close comparison between Horowitz and Fleming. The 'tick-list' mentioned in the blurb for Trigger Mortis immediately sets the book up as a bit try-hard, desperate to appeal to the fans of the original books. Keeping Pussy Galore in admittedly adds to the continuity of the two stories, but having her and Bond together in London, living together no less, did seem a little far fetched and out of character for both of them. Horowitz should have had confidence in his own characters, and indeed the story only really got going for me once Bond arrived at Nuburgring race track. Jai Seong Sin, or Jason Sin as he is known by the Western World is a worthy adversary, and as dangerous and deadly as any other Bond villain I've come across. Without giving too much away, I LOVED his playing card 'choose your fate' method of dealing with any potential threats, and as macabre as it may sound I can't help but feel that it was underused! That said the card Bond drew, and his subsequent experience, is literally the stuff of my worst nightmares, and I'm very glad I didn't read that particular chapter late at night that's for sure! The novel definitely had a feel of classic Bond about it - fast cars, heart stopping suspense, memorable villains, and beautiful women. Jeopardy Lane is a refreshingly different Bond Girl - without her Bond would almost certainly have failed in his mission. She is feisty and independent - Bond is actually in awe of her at one point- yet she is still a woman, and the way things ended between herself and Bond was perfectly bittersweet. I know the tendency these days is to get a new writer for each James Bond book, but if Horowitz wanted to write another that would be fine by me! Or even better, how about some grown up Alex Rider books for the original fans of the series?! A girl can dream.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Review: The First Wife by Erica Spindler

Despite the ten-year age gap and the differences in their backgrounds, Bailey was meant to marry Logan - she's sure of it. But when Logan brings Bailey home to his magnificent estate, her dreams of happily ever after begin to unravel. She can't ignore the rumours about what happened to Logan's first wife and then when a local woman goes missing, all signs point to Bailey's husband.

Suddenly Bailey is facing an impossible decision: should she believe what everyone is saying, or should she bet her life on the man she loves, but hardly knows?


I knew immediately from the blurb that I would love this book. And I was right. I was so utterly gripped that I raced through it in a day! After a whirlwind holiday romance Bailey Browne finds herself married to Logan Abbott. Only once they arrive back at his estate does Bailey become aware of the rumours and secrets that plague the life of Logan and those closest to him. Logan was dark, mysterious, and downright gorgeous! Like Bailey, I really wanted him to be innocent, and to believe him when he said as such. Even as the mystery begins to unravel it is still impossible to predict what happened to True (Logan's first wife) and to the other missing women. Looking back on it now it seems obvious, but I honestly didn't guess until the very end. I tend to shy away from modern thrillers, often because they are too gory/graphic/grisly. I was worried that this would go that way too but thankfully it didn't. It's more of a suspense packed whodunit, which can only be a good thing! Bailey was a brilliant character. Thrust into a world so alien to her, rife with rumour and speculation about the man she has entrusted her life to, her strength and bravery impressed me. She was determined to find out the truth, as much to reassure herself as to prove her husband's innocence.

5/5 stars: Packed with drama and suspense; when a book keeps you up reading half the night you can't give it anything less!


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Review: The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

Family secrets. Forbidden love. And the true price of wealth.

Thomas is a small-town boy and when Lily invites him to a dinner party, he gains access to the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. As he enters a world of private jets and sprawling mansions, his life and career take off beyond his wildest dreams.

Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.

Beautiful and mysterious, Matilda has spent her entire life within the walls of her powerful father’s Bel-Air estate and Thomas is immediately entranced by her. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon threatens to destroy their lives and the lives of everyone around them.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was immediately reminded of The Great Gatsby, one of my all time favourite novels. Young reporter Thomas Cleary is sent on an assignment to meet Lily Goldman, the daughter of the late Hollywood great Joel Goldman, to get some quotes for his obituary. A seemingly routine encounter, but one that will change his life forever. Through Lily, Thomas gains access to the opulent world of the Bel-Air elite, and he finds himself increasingly drawn into their lives, their confidences, and their secrets. Suddenly Thomas is the hot new talent on the journalist scene, and as the social invitations pour in he can't believe his luck. Then he meets Matilda Duplaine. Matilda has spent her entire life on her father's estate, shut away from the dangers of the outside world. Thomas is immediately beguiled by her and suddenly nothing else in his life matters. As romance blossoms between them, questions begin to form in his mind. Who exactly is Matilda, and why is she a secret? His journalist instinct kicks in, but what he discovers has the potential to rock Hollywood, and the lives of his new found friends, to its core.

I really enjoyed this book. As I mentioned earlier there are definitely echoes of Gatsby about it, and although it is set today there is a real old Hollywood feel about it. Matilda is an intriguing character. She is undoubtedly enchanting, but she has a real 'spoilt princess' quality about her that made me wary of her. She is Rapunzel waiting in her tower of an estate for a prince that may or not ever come for her. She is a naive childlike girl who thinks life in the outside world is like an Audrey Hepburn movie. In the time she spends with Thomas she quickly matures first into a stroppy adolescent (and a horrid one at that!), and finally into a young woman.

Thomas on the other hand is a very likeable character. Like Nick Caraway in Gatsby he is the outsider seduced by the glamorous life of his rich associates. For those of you familiar with the TV Show Gossip Girl (I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read the books), Thomas is also comparable with 'lonely boy' Dan Humphrey - the aspiring writer who happens into the social circle of New York's Upper East Side, and becomes involved with the society golden girl. Just as Thomas, Nick and Dan were seduced by the wealth surrounding them, so we the reader are seduced. There is a real opulence in Alex's descriptions of the lavish parties, the sprawling real estates and the beautiful landscapes, that makes us yearn for the lifestyle ourselves - however superficial it may seem.

I wasn't all that keen on the ending when I first read it, but, sort of spoiler alert, as both Thomas and Matilda reiterate, life isn't like the movies. On reflection, the ending actually works really well!

5/5 stars: The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is an enchanting read about love, life and Los Angeles.

*Thanks to Netgalley for providing an e-copy of this book in exchange for a review!*

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review: The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

Gwenni Morgan is not like any other girl in her small Welsh town. Inquisitive, bookish and fill of spirit, she can fly in her sleep and loves playing detective. So when a neighbour mysteriously vanishes and no one seems to be asking the right questions, Gwenni decides to conduct her own investigation.

I'll admit, it was the beautiful cover that first drew me to this book. The blurb sounded unusual so I was excited to give it a go. This book was not at all like I was expecting, but then maybe that was the author's intention. The plot is as much an exploration of mental illness as a a detective story - I won't say any more so as not to spoil it. It's clear to the reader from the start exactly what's happened to Ifan Evans, Gwenni's neighbour, so the 'detective' side of things is simply Gwenni finding out the truth for herself, growing up along the way. It is darkly compelling and a quick read. The child narrator, first person present, worked really well and I grew to really like Gwenni. Her naivety and ability to always see the best in people, her childlike view of the world and her boundless imagination really endeared her to me, even if the other villagers considered her 'odd'. From the cover and blurb I expected a novel set in the present day, but from what I read I would guess that it is set in the 1950s. The date is never actually stated. but Strachan paints a charming picture of rural nostalgia, of a Wales long gone. There is a real sense of community about the novel, everyone knows everyone and there's plenty of gossip and curtain-twitching going on among the adults. There are a few loose ends at the end of the novel, things I expected to be explained but never were -again I won't say what- and again I'm not sure whether it was deliberate. A thought provoking novel about life, secrets, and growing up.

4/5 stars: Very well written, unique and compelling, just not at all what I was expecting.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Blog Tour / Giveaway: The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen!
Read on to find out more, and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win yourself a copy!


Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family. Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding. Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-over-heels in love with him. The journey will make you laugh, cry and want to pull your hair out from frustration! Mimi eventually learns that she is quite remarkable in her own right and never needed to worry that she lived in her sister’s shadows.

The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is the perfect laugh-out-loud, feel good book for any woman who has ever felt that she wasn’t good enough.

Buy links: Amazon UK    Amazon US

About the Author
While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband. When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele (www.WhitneysGoodies.com). During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor. In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is available now.  Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

Her first rom-com, She Sins at Midnight recently won 2015 Reader's Favorite silver medal in chick-lit and Mimi was #1 or #2 in humor satire on Amazon for over 2 weeks.

Author Links: Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads    Website


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