Sunday, 25 June 2017

My Favourite LGBT+ Books

Today is the start of the fab LGBTQIA Readathon hosted by my lovely friend Faye and the brilliant George Lester, this paired with the fact that Pride has officially begun here in the UK means that I wanted to share with you some of my favourite LGBT+ books for anyone looking for some recommendations on what to read.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan 

This is the perfect book to read during Pride given the fact that it takes place in San Francisco over Pride weekend following two LGBT main characters. Nina LaCour and David Levithan are two of my favourite writers and them writing together works incredibly well. This book had its sunshine and its showers which by the end created a rainbow of a finale. You Know Me Well features the largest LGBT+ cast that I've ever read about and coming in at 247 pages makes it the perfect little read that packs a powerful punch for this readathon.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

What I loved about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is that despite being a LGBT book it doesn't feel like a LGBT book and what I mean by that is that this is simply a love story that just happens to be between two guys. There are so many fantastic books out there about coming out and what it's like to be a gay teenager that are so profound and moving and important but with this book the focus was on the romance and I loved the normality of it. This book felt like a turning point in LGBT fiction for me and I adored everything about it.

A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke 

I read A Kiss in the Dark way back in 2014 and it's still one of my absolute favourite LGBT books. The book follows the love story of Alex and Kate but underneath their perfect relationship lies a secret so explosive that if discovered it will tear their relationship apart. This book explores themes such as identity and love being gender free. A Kiss in the Dark is so utterly consuming that once you start it you won't be able to put it down!

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

As I mentioned before, David Levithan is one of my favourite authors especially when it comes to LGBT fiction and Two Boys Kissing is one of my favourite books by him. The book is based on a true story and follows ex's Craig and Harry as they attempt to break the world record for the longest kiss. What I loved about this book was its look at history and how far we've come in terms of LGBT rights and how much further we still have to go. It's a short, important, beautifully written book that is essential reading for everyone.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson 

My last recommendation is for the brilliant The Art of Being Normal this book follows David who has always identified as being a transgender girl whose life changes forever when he makes friends with Leo Denton the new boy at school. I loved David so much, Lisa Williamson is an incredible writer and I felt all of David's feelings and experiences as if they were my own. This was the first book I ever read from the perspective of a trans character and it really opened my eyes. The Art of Being Normal is a beautiful book about living your life unapologetically and being true to who you are.

 I'm so looking forward to getting stuck into some brilliant LGBTQIA books over the readathon and I hope these recommendations encourage you to pick up some of these wonderful books!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

May Favourites: Feminism, Bookstagram and Conspiracy Theories

Hello everyone! It's been ages since I did a monthly favourites post mainly because I keep coming down with various illnesses since catching flu at the start of the year (it's true what they say, it really does throw your immune system out of wack) so a favourites post would mainly consist of cough sweets, sleeping and other boring sick person things that nobody wants to read about. But now summer is almost here and there has been lots of things I have been enjoying in May so let's take a look at what I've been loving this past month.

Favourite Books


In May I fell head over heels for two very different books. First up was Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh a YA Fantasy Mulan retelling. I loved the sound of this one but was a bit hesitant to pick it up because I wasn't the biggest fan of this authors previous book The Wrath and the Dawn but I'm so glad I decided to give this book a go because I absolutely loved it! I posted a review for this one so if you'd like to find out more do check that out here.

Half way through the month I found myself in a bit of a reading slump and fancied reading something light and enjoyable. I'd been hearing good things about Paige Toon's latest The Last Piece of My Heart so when I spotted a copy going for cheap in Tesco I decided to pick it up and read it right there and then. This book completely swept me away, I was so invested in the main character Bridget and her journey. I absolutely loved the romance and even had a little cry over the ending. Like Renée Ahdieh, Paige Toon's books can be a bit hit or miss for me but this turned out to be my favourite Paige Toon novel to date! This months reading has definitely shown me that sometimes giving an author a second chance can really pay off.

Favourite to Listen to


Recently I've been really loving the new single from Hailee Steinfeld Most Girls. Hailee's music is so fresh carrying a really strong feminist message and Most Girls is no different. It's a song that confronts the backhanded "you're not like most girls" compliment and celebrates different kinds of girls and how they choose to express themselves. The music video for this is fab and I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch if you haven't seen it!

Favourite to Watch

As I type this only the pilot episode has aired so far in the UK but it was so good that it had to make my favourites post. So, can we just talk about The Handmaid's Tale for a second!? I have yet to read the book (more on that in a future blog post) but I'd heard enough about it to know that it's a dark, harrowing look at a near-future where women lose their rights and become walking wombs for rich and powerful men, yet nothing could prepare me for how relevant this show is to things that have and are currently happening in the world at the moment. Sitting here writing this, the scene where one of the handmaids has been raped immediately comes to mind. She's sat in the middle of the room, closed in a circle by her fellow handmaids, who are pointing at her and chanting "her fault" that scene gives me goosebumps to think about and brings to mind what goes on in our own courthouses today. I have a feeling that The Handmaid's Tale will be one of the most important, most talked about shows of the year and I already can't wait for the next episode.

Favourite Online


Don't you just love when you find a new favourite YouTuber and you spend a whole weekend getting caught up on their entire backlog of videos? So that's basically what I did one weekend with YouTuber Kendall Rae when I fell down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole on Youtube. Kendall produces some of the most interesting, well researched content that I have ever watched on YouTube and covers everything from conspiracy theories, to murder mysteries, to body confidence videos, to astrology. Since watching her channel I now believe in so many things that I didn't this time last month so if like me, you are fascinated by the unexplainable I would definitely recommend checking out her content - just be warned that once you start you won't be able to stop! I've shared one of my favourite videos from her to get you started. You're welcome.

 Favourite Thing

From my Instagram JessHeartsBooks

My favourite thing in May has to be Bookstagram! At the moment I love nothing more than creating pictures of the beautiful books I get in whether that's by creating a set or playing around with filters and editing. Sometimes if my mental health is bad I can find social media pretty stressful but Bookstagram is my happy place where I can step away from online conversations and get lost in a world of pretty books. I think that Bookstagram is such a fun and creative way to share what you are reading and I love scrolling through the hashtag on Instagram to become inspired and look for new ways to improve my own content. I'm getting close to 1,000 followers so I'd really appreciate if you could give me a follow over there at JessHeartsBooks if you'd like to see more bookish posts from me!

Favourite Memory

Photo credit to RayReadsaLot

Early last month Ray, Chelle, Faye and I had a Girlhood reading party where we sat around with snacks, Chinese takeaway and the new Cat Clarke book for an entire Saturday reading out loud to each other and chatting. Our reading parties are always one of my favourite things that we do together as a group and this one was particularly fun because we were all reading the same book. Girlhood is a book that heavily focuses on female friendships so it was a really great choice for a group of friends to read together. We're talking about hosting another reading party in June and I already can't wait!

What were some of your favourite things in May?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The Summer House by the Sea Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Summer House by the Sea blog tour! Today I have author Jenny Oliver on the blog sharing a guest post on her top holiday reads.

My Top 5 Holiday Reads by Jenny Oliver

1.) My favourite pool-side read has to be Polo by Jilly Cooper. I remember when I was younger I’d take stacks of Sweet Valley High on holiday, then my mum told me there were these books called Mills & Boon which I then took stacks of away with me, then I saw my sister reading this giant book called Polo and, daunted by the size, I turned my nose up, only to discover it much later on and absolutely LOVED it! I am a huge Jilly Cooper fan – it’s the ultimate escapism.

2.) Last summer I read Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi and, while the story was completely different to what I was expecting, I couldn’t put it down. Hilarious, poignant, painful and brilliant.

3.) The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett is the book I keep recommending at the moment. It shines a light on parenting, envy and middle-class snobbery in such a sharp, clever, insidious manner. I thought about it for ages afterwards. I think it would have me sizing up all the other people lounging by the pool.

4.) My favourite crime recently has been Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Intelligent and gripping with a great female detective.

5.) I’ve never met anyone disappointed with Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park – funny, touching and completely absorbing.

And of course, all the Jenny Oliver books you can cram into your suitcase! ;-)

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Summer at Conwenna Cove Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Summer at Conwenna Cove blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from author Darcie Boleyn on why she writes romance.

Why I Write Romance by Darcie Boleyn 

Life can be pretty full on at times, and reading is one of my favourite ways to relax. I enjoy all genres but when I want something to make me smile, something that I can rely on to lift my mood and to transport me away to another time and place, I turn to romance novels.

A romance novel takes readers on a familiar journey. That’s why I always smile when a novel is described as being ‘predictable’, because yes, romance readers do want a happy ever after. Or at least, a happy for now. And as much as I enjoy reading romance novels, I enjoy writing them. I love creating the complex main characters with their baggage, their lost hopes and dreams, and bringing them together. They might not always like the other character at first, but by the end of the story, they will do. However, the journey they go on mustn't be easy; there must be plenty of conflict, both internal and external, and there will always be a black moment, when the conflict is at its highest and it seems as though there couldn’t possibly be a happy ending.

I love the dance that the two characters perform… the will-they, won’t-they build up as their relationship develops. I love to build the physical and emotional tension between them, to convey how the other character makes them feel just by being close. I love describing how they feel when it dawns on them that they are in love, even if at that point it still seems like they can’t possibly be together. Because when they eventually do admit their feelings, it will be all the sweeter.

Most films and TV series feature at least one love story. Take Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Jim and Pam, Glen and Maggie, Carrie and Big, Harry and Sally, the list goes on. Many of us enjoy watching characters we like and care about getting together and reading romances is no different. We become invested in the stories and in the characters’ lives and want them to be happy.

The point of a romance isn’t just that everyone has someone, but that everyone is fulfilled, and when I write romances, I want the characters to evolve to a state where they don’t need someone else but are finally ready to be with someone. They have to be strong enough and confident enough and developed enough to be in a fulfilling relationship.

I want the reader to feel satisfied when they finish reading one of my novels, to believe that the two main characters have overcome the obstacles I put in their way and that they deserve to be together. I want the reader to feel happy and hopeful, because life is tough enough, and a happy ending in a romance novel can be something for them to hold close when real life is not quite so perfect.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Review for Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: Hodder
Release: 18th May 2017
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Proof copy received from Amazon Vine

"Mariko has always known that being a woman means she's not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden - the emperor's son - Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued... or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.

Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan's hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she's ever known."

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ahdieh’s previous YA fantasy offering The Wrath and the Dawn but I loved the sound of Flame in the Mist so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! Sometimes giving an author a second chance really pays off.

The book follows Hattori Mariko a seventeen-year-old girl who is on her way to marry the Emperor’s son when she is ambushed by the disreputable bandits the Black Clan who have been hired to kill her. All her life Mariko has been a pawn in a world ruled by men but now believed to be dead she decides to carve her own path and escape the clutches of her father and the political marriage he has arranged for her. Disguised as a boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan so that she can discover who paid to have her murdered and to earn the clan’s trust so that when they least expect it she can get her revenge on those who would have killed her.

Flame in the Mist is a retelling of Mulan and I found it to be such a refreshing take on YA fantasy. A lot of the Japanese mythology used in this book was new to me and I loved exploring a different kind of fantasy world. The authors writing and descriptions were vivid and luscious making it so easy for me to get lost in the world around me.

Mariko was hands down my favourite aspect of this book. She’s a badass feminist heroine who questions the society she lives in and constantly uses her intelligence and ideas to prove herself equal to the men around her. There were so many quotes throughout this book from Mariko on feminism that I just loved.

My main issue with The Wrath and the Dawn was that I didn’t like the romance and felt that there was too much of it but in Flame in the Mist Renee Ahdieh gets it exactly right. There is a gorgeous slow burn between Mariko and her love interest and I appreciated how it played a smaller role and didn’t overshadow Mariko’s personal development or the adventure that she’s on.

With Flame in the Mist Renee Ahdieh has really upped her game as a writer and has created a lavish fantasy world with a dark mystery at its heart. This book really ticked all of the right boxes for me and I am already eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Review for The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter 
by Karen Dionne 
Publisher: Sphere
Release: 29th June 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Source: Proof copy borrowed from the lovely Broadbean’s Books

" 'I was born two years into my mother's captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn't have adored my father.'

When notorious child abductor - known as the Marsh King - escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena's past: they don't know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve - or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don't know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone... except, perhaps his own daughter."

The Marsh King's Daughter was nothing like I expected it to be but in the best possible way! The book is narrated by Helena a woman born into captivity who spent the first twelve years of her life hidden away in the marshlands. Her whole world is made up solely of her teenage mother, her captor - who is also her father - and their daily struggle to survive in the wilderness.

Skip to the present day and Helena is a grown woman with her own husband and two young daughters who after her escape has severed all ties to her childhood in the marsh. But when her father escapes from prison she knows that he'll come after her and that it could be her daughters that he takes next.

In order to outsmart her father she has to become the daughter he raised - ruthless, feral, a skilled tracker and murderer so that she finds him before he can find her. But when it comes down to the love of a manipulative parent and the instinct to protect your children which would win?

Helena is far from your typical victim. Throughout the book we see her struggle with the side of her that is very much her father's daughter and her own complicated feelings towards him. It took me a while to really understand Helena as a character but once I did I found her fascinating to read about. I found it so interesting to read a book where the victim isn't scared of her kidnapper and instead struggles with feelings of adoration and love towards them despite knowing that she shouldn't feel that way. Helena's characterization and growth throughout the novel was the real highlight of this book for me.

The story is told in both the past and the present which kept the plot moving along at lightning speed. Although I loved the game of cat and mouse that Helena and her father played in the present day, it was the chapters set back when they lived together in the marsh that really held my attention. I loved learning about what Helena and her mother's lives were like and the cruelties that they'd experience, not only at the hands of their kidnapper, but also from the hard-living conditions of a life of solitude in the marsh.

Overall this is a story of our internal struggle between right and wrong and how that perception can become skewered for somebody who grew up idolizing and loving such a cruel parent. It's about survival and what it means to be a survivor. It's about the relationship we have with our parents and the thin line between love and hate, and it’s about the effect that our experiences as children have on our development. The Marsh King's Daughter is a phenomenal thriller and one that I'd recommend to fans of Room and anyone looking for something different and unexpected from the genre.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Night Visitor Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Night Visitor blog tour! Today I have an extract of the prologue to share with you to give a taste of what you can expect from this brilliant book. Enjoy!

The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, London 

Olivia huddled behind Arteries, Heart and Veins. Through the gaps between the tall specimen jars in the cabinet she could see the faces on the ground floor, looking up at Joy on the balcony. It was such a long way down.

The room was packed: all two hundred guests must have come. She couldn’t see their faces properly because the jars of hardened arteries and diseased heart tissue were acting as a screen and she didn’t want to look as if she was peering through them. She watched Joy’s animated profile instead. Joy was saying very kind things. Olivia felt sick.

‘Straight in at number two! That’s what we consider a triumph!’ Joy’s scarlet and gold earrings caught the light as she raised her champagne flute and cried, ‘A bestseller in its very first week. So, how about it? Shall we take it to number one?’ A cheer rang out through the museum; raucous voices lifted, echoed off the high ceilings and shivered through the glass display cabinets and medical oddities – faces torn by bullets and bombs, dissected limbs, diseased and malformed organs suspended in cloudy fluid. Bones, so gigantic that they must surely be from whales or mammoths, were displayed between the ground floor and this, the mezzanine. Under the clever, bleached lights they looked so curved and smooth-lined that they seemed more like sculptures than fragments of anatomy. ‘In case you missed it, there’s a table by the entrance where you can get the book for Olivia to sign,’ Joy said. ‘But that’s enough of a sales pitch from me. Let me hand you over to the woman of the hour, Britain’s favourite history professor, Olivia Sweetman!’ There was nowhere to put her glass so she held on to it as she stepped forwards. Joy squeezed her arm and moved out of the way. Olivia walked up to the Perspex-covered railings and looked down.

It really was too high – ridiculously so. What were the publicists thinking, putting her all the way up here for the speech? She would have been better off standing on the stairs or even on the ground floor with the guests gathered round her. But it was too late, all their faces were turned up, flushed with champagne and the energy of the night and this spectacle – her – standing alone in a yellow dress, glowing and supposedly triumphant. They were all waiting for her to speak.

She took a deep breath. She longed to unfurl wings and soar off this edge, over their heads and away to somewhere remote and hidden where none of them would ever find her, but she forced herself to speak. ‘Thank you so much, Joy, what a kind introduction. And thank you, all of you, for coming tonight to celebrate the launch of my book.’ Her voice came out clear and calm even though the glass in her hand was trembling. She rested that on the barrier too. She was used to public speaking, to facing a crowd and being listened to, but it was different to be looking down at friends, family, colleagues, journalists, TV people, bloggers and critics with this awful, sickening secret pressing in her gut like a tumour.

‘I hope you can all hear me? It’s an awfully long way down and as some of you will know I’m not that good with heights.’ There was a ripple of laughter, voices called up in encouragement. ‘We’ll catch you!’ someone – a man – yelled from the back. She wondered if the people directly below her could see up her full-skirted dress. She crossed her legs.

‘OK! Well, it’s amazing to be here with you tonight in this wonderful Hunterian Museum to celebrate the launch of Annabel.’ She noticed David standing at the front. His face was a mask of neutrality. Jess was at his side, her bobbed hair held back by a hairband. She was holding his hand. There was no sign of the boys. Olivia smiled directly down at her daughter but Jess didn’t react; perhaps she was more interested in the grisly objects in the cabinets that framed the balcony.

‘It seemed fitting to have the launch at the Royal College of Surgeons.’ She gestured at the cabinets. ‘Isn’t this an extraordinary museum?’ She knew she was stalling, unable to bring herself to talk about the book. She scanned the crowd for Dom and Paul but she couldn’t see either of them. She had to control this sick panic inside her – she had to sound relaxed. She’d prepared the speech about Annabel and they were all expecting it. She could, she would, deliver it.

Intrigued? Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Guest Post: My Guilty Little Secret by Cat Clarke

I've been a huge fan of Cat Clarke's books since her debut Entangled was released back in 2011 so I'm chuffed to bits to have her on the blog today to celebrate the release of her new novel Girlhood. Today Cat is telling us all about her guilty little secret and the role guilt has to play in her books.

My Guilty Little Secret by Cat Clarke 

I tend to write so-called ‘dark’ books, often dealing with subjects like death, grief and depression. But something I keep coming back to again and again is guilt. It features in almost everything I’ve written, most notably in Torn and A Kiss in the Dark. My guilty little secret is my obsession with guilt.

In my latest book, Girlhood, Harper feels guilty about the death of her twin sister, Jenna. Her guilt is so deeply felt that it’s completely intertwined with her grief; it threatens to drown her. The guilt isolates her from her parents, who are too busy grieving to even realize. It isolates her from her best friends, since she’s never talked to them about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s death. When the new girl arrives, Harper finally feels like she’s found someone she can confide in. Of course, this is a story written by me, so things don’t quite work out as planned.

Lots of people feel guilty following the death of someone we care about. We feel we should have treated them better, told them we loved them. In extreme situations, we might even blame ourselves for the death. It would never have happened if… If only I’d…

‘If only’ is a very powerful thought. A pointless, toxic thought, but one that we all have from time to time, because all of us feel guilty about something. I think it helps to talk about guilt. To confess, if you prefer to look at it that way. If you choose the right person to talk to, chances are they’ll reassure you and help put things in perspective. If you can’t face confiding in someone, then imagine your best friend, or someone you love, confiding in you. You’d reassure them, wouldn’t you? (Unless you’re an evil monster, in which case, what are you doing reading Jess’s lovely blog? Be gone, monster!) It never ceases to amaze me that we’re so much harder on ourselves than we are on other people. Humans are weird like that.

Of course, being an evil author, what interests me most is what happens when you confide in the wrong person… And you can read Girlhood if you fancy finding out.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today Cat! 
For more from Cat you can follow her on Twitter @cat_clarke 
Girlhood is available to buy now in all good bookshops

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Dreaming of Venice Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Dreaming of Venice Blog Tour. Today I have a guest post from author T.A. Williams on how much of him he writes into his books.

Me in My Books by T.A. Williams 

Well, they say you should write about what you know. And I suppose I should know lots about me. So it’s pretty inevitable that I’m going to transpose stuff from my life onto my characters. Let’s take a look at Dreaming of Venice, my second book for publishers Canelo. Where does Trevor Williams rear his bald and wrinkly head? For starters, like with my previous books, I didn’t make it easy for myself. I once again chose to write this one from the standpoint of the main character, Penny. Penny is a woman. I’m not. So not much chance of overlap there, I hear you say. Well, that’s not strictly correct.

You see, first of all, Penny falls in love with a black Labrador called Gilbert. My old Lab definitely slotted in straight after my wife and daughter in my affections (outstripping both of them on occasions, but don’t tell them I said that).

Second, Penny has dreamt all her life of going to Venice. Well, many, many years ago, I spent eight years living and working in Italy and, since then, I have returned to visit Venice on a number of occasions, most recently just before last Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, Penny shares my love of that wonderful city. I hope my description of it manages to do justice to somewhere that will always be very dear to me. If I wasn’t married to the only Italian in the world who prefers to live in England rather than in Italy, I would, without doubt, be writing this in a little house somewhere in Italy, hopefully not too far from La Serenissima, Venice.

So that’s the dog and the city. Now, what about the story? The main premise of the story is that Penny has to put her thespian hat on and act the part of reclusive billionaire, Olivia. Now, I’ve never done any acting, but I know only too well how hard it is to go to meetings and receptions, a smile permanently bolted on and a ready supply of small talk to hand. Poor Penny comes right up against it when she has to go to a cocktail party for the rich and famous and she feels like a fish out of water. I know the feeling.

Penny is an artist and I’m not, but my wife is. All the details of famous artists, painting with oils, compositions and exhibitions are gleaned from her. I’ve never lived in London, but my daughter does. So, when she gets round to reading Dreaming of Venice, she won’t be totally surprised to find some of the places being described strangely familiar. As for Penny’s love of Venice, that is definitely all me. I love the place.

In my previous book for Canelo, Chasing Shadows, the action takes place on the pilgrims’ way to Santiago de Compostela. I did that whole trip myself on a bike a few years ago and inserted any number of incidents that actually happened to me. In Dreaming of Venice, lots of events, like getting lost in the narrow alleys of the old city, actually happened to me. Penny loves champagne and Prosecco. Snap. Like me, she speaks Italian and is fascinated by history and the history of art. And we both like rabbit stew.

Above all, however, I would like to think that Penny is like me in the way she faces up to the problems that life throws at her. She doesn’t drop her head into her hands and spend a week or two sobbing. She takes a deep breath and gets on with it. It isn’t easy for her with her long-distance boyfriend, her struggle to break into the London art scene, or having to share her accommodation with a big, bold rat. But she manages. Penny, like so many of my heroines, is a very determined character. I suppose you could probably say that about me, too.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Blog Tour: Review for Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman Walking 
by Sharon Bolton 
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release: 20th April 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all..."

As a surprise for her sister's 40th birthday, Jessica Lane takes Bella on a hot air balloon ride over the beautiful Northumberland National Park but what starts off as an idyllic trip soon turns into a living nightmare as they witness a man murdering a woman in the park below them.

When the killer catches sight of the hot air balloon his gun swiftly turns on them killing their pilot, as they crash from the sky most of the passengers are killed on impact. When the police arrive on the crime scene it becomes apparent that Jessica Lane is the sole survivor of the crash and she's gone on the run because although she saw the killer's face he's also seen hers and he'll stop at nothing to make sure that every witness to his crime is dead.

Wow, wow, wow! Dead Woman Walking is an immensely clever thrill ride of a read! The first fifty pages were perhaps the most intense opening to a book that I have ever read. What starts off as your typical cat and mouse chase between the killer and his victim quickly twists and turns adding layer upon layer of mystery that overtime creates a complex plot so that by the final page all of the little threads come together creating a bigger picture. I thought I knew where I was going with this book but I was completely wrong!

The story is told from multiple points of view and alternates between different timelines using short, snappy chapters so that you're slowly drip-fed small amounts of information at a time. This kept the pace moving at breakneck speed and it was so easy to think 'just one more chapter' which of course led me to read several more than I intended. I love a good twist in a book and this one had several that made me gasp out loud. It certainly gave me a good runaround!

The only thing that stopped Dead Woman Walking from getting the full 5 stars from me was that there were a few instances where I had to suspend belief and I couldn't always understand the actions that the characters made but this is only a small complaint as I still enjoyed the book immensely.

Dead Woman Walking is one of the best crime novels that I've read so far in 2017. With an intricate plot, fleshed out characters and twists galore it ticks all the boxes that make up an outstanding thriller. Don't miss it!

Follow the rest of the blog tour!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review for The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found 
by Trisha Ashley 
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release: 9th March 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick-lit
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Alice Rose is a foundling, discovered on the Yorkshire moors above Haworth as a baby. Adopted but then later rejected again by a horrid step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking – the scent of cinnamon and citrus and the feel of butter and flour between her fingers – brings a comforting sense of home.

So it seems natural that when she finally decides to return to Haworth, Alice turns to baking again, taking over a run-down little teashop and working to set up an afternoon tea emporium.

Luckily she soon makes friends – including a Grecian god-like neighbour – who help her both set up home and try to solve the mystery of who she is. There are one or two last twists in the dark fairytale of Alice’s life to come . . . but can she find her happily ever after?"

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found follows the story of Alice Rose a woman who hasn’t had the kindest start to life. Abandoned on the Yorkshire moors as a baby she’s adopted by a wonderful father only for him to pass away. So when her fiancé is also killed in an accident at work distraught Alice decides to use the money left to her in his will to start over in the village where she was found. 

Calling upon her talent for baking, Alice opens up a little teashop to make ends meet by day and by night she escapes into the fairytale stories that she writes about. As Alice searches for her birth mother and digs deeper into her own history she finds that how she ended up on the moors above Haworth is very much a mystery. So far Alice’s life has been far from a fairytale but will unlocking the secrets of her past and following her dreams lead her to her very own happy ending?

I found The Little Teashop of Lost and Found to be such a page turner! I loved the Yorkshire setting, the proper Northern locals and Alice’s adventures in setting up her own teashop but what really kept me gripped was the mystery running throughout this book surrounding Alice’s past and the identity of her birth mother. Between each chapter we are given little snippets from her birth mother’s point of view and I loved trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together.

Alice is incredibly hard working and I enjoyed the fact that outside of her day job she’s also a writer. Seeing her juggle two jobs and pursue different hobbies made her feel a lot more real to me than your average Women’s Fiction heroine. There’s also a fantastic cast of secondary characters who I fell in love with from Tilda and Nell the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire, to the Giddings family who take Alice under their wing I loved being in the company of so many warm and interesting characters.

Overall The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is a heart-warming and charming adult fairytale about family, starting over, self-discovery and finding a place to call home.

Follow the rest of the blog tour

Monday, 20 March 2017

Spring Releases: The Highlights

Hello everyone! Today marks the first official day of Spring here in the UK and there are so many books coming out this season that I'm excited for. To celebrate the beginning of spring I wanted to share with you the creme de la creme of the spring releases on my wishlist and review pile. I hope it helps you decide what should be on your TBR for the coming months ahead. I'm so looking forward to sitting outside in the sunshine with a picnic lunch and these brilliant books!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman 
Publication Date: 18th May 2017 
Synopsis: "Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I've been hearing wonderful things about Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine since last year and when I read the synopsis I knew I had to read it because it sounds like such a Jess book. I've already been told by several people that I'll love it so I've been counting down the days until release when I can finally get my hands on a copy!

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins 
Publication Date: 2nd May 2017 
Synopsis: "A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - This is the book that I think is on everyone's wishlist this spring and that is the highly anticipated new thriller from Paula Hawkins author of The Girl on the Train. Early reader friends have already told me that Into The Water is utterly fantastic and totally lives up to its predecessor. I absolutely can't wait to see what Paula Hawkins has in store for us next!

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo 
Publication Date: 18th May 2017 
Synopsis: "Two people. One choice.

What if?

Every love story has a beginning…

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet in New York on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. As the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

As Lucy is faced with a devastating choice, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny or chance.

 …what if this is how their story ends?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I'm a sucker for a good love story and The Light We Lost looks set to be one of the big ones of this year with early comparisons to Me Before You and One Day. This book is right at the top of my review pile for May!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 
Publication Date: 6th April 2017 
Synopsis: "Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - If you haven't heard of THUG yet where have you been!? There has been so much early excitement for this book and it recently hit the number one spot on The New York Times’s Young Adult best-seller list. This is easily one of my most anticipated releases of the year and if it's not already on your TBR then it should be! The Hate U Give is set to be one of the most important books you'll read this year.

This Love by Dani Atkins 
Publication Date: 23rd March 2017 
Synopsis: "Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a long time ago, but could this love change all of that?

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, 31-year-old translator who works from home in her one-bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in dreams when she was a teenager and tragedy struck her family.

So, to be safe, she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a passer-by, Ben, sees her and rescues her.

Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - Our Song by Dani Atkins was one of my favourite books of last year so I can't wait to read another by her. My blogger friends who have already read this have been raving to me about it,  so needless to say this is currently at the very top of my review pile for this month!

Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse 
Publication Date: 20th April 2017 
Synopsis: "The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret. Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhiannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

 A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge. 

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I've been a long time fangirl of C.J. Skuse and will read anything she writes but I am particularly excited for Sweetpea C.J's first adult thriller. I love books about female killers and revenge so I can't wait to meet Rhiannon and get inside her head.

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter 
Publication Date: 6th April 2017 
Synopsis: "Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O’Porter needs to be talked about.

COW [n.]

 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.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice."

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I absolutely love feminist fiction, particularly books about female friendships. This is set to be one of the biggest books about women of the year and I can't wait to dive in!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 
Publication Date: 28th March 2017 
Synopsis: "The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. 

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?"

Why I Can't Wait to Read it - I've been waiting for this book for such a long time! I fell in love with Laini Taylor's writing way back in 2011 when I received a proof of Daughter of Smoke and Bone to review from the publisher and since then I've been a huge fan of this author. This book sounds absolutely magical and I'm so excited that I only have eight more days to wait for this one!

 I hope you have a lovely springtime full of plenty of books and sunshine!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Blog Tour: Review for The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman 
by Mindy Mejia 
Publisher: Quercus
Release: 9th March 2017
Genre: Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she's found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie's dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del's, Hattie's high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life. . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity; about the line between innocence and culpability; about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman was an incredibly addictive read that completely surpassed my expectations! Despite being marketed for adults, I can see this book being popular with mature teen readers too because of Hattie’s strong YA voice. It’s a book shrouded in mystery and intrigue and every chapter ends in a way that leaves you wanting more. I found myself flying through this book desperate to know the real Hattie Hoffman and her secrets.

The book follows the life and death of Hattie Hoffman, a small town girl with big dreams of becoming an actress and making it big in New York City. Little do her friends and family know, Hattie is already getting in good practise as she plays the roles of star pupil, the Jock’s girlfriend and the wholesome girl next door whilst inside she hides a dark secret that could ruin the lives of several people.

When Hattie’s body is discovered local Sheriff and Hattie’s father’s best friend, Del Goodman, digs into Hattie’s life and learns that she was not the girl she appeared to be. As the final curtain closes on Hattie’s last act, Del must unearth the secrets of Hattie Hoffman and deal with the fallout of a small town shook by his findings.

The story switches between following the last few months of Hattie’s life to the present day when her body is first discovered. I really enjoyed the shifting timeline as we got to hear from Hattie herself meaning that we as the readers are the only people who really get to know the true Hattie Hoffman before her death. I loved getting inside Hattie’s head and witnessing her make the choices that you know will later on have huge consequences. In the present we get to hear from Del as he investigates Hattie’s murder and although I didn’t find his voice as compelling as Hattie’s, I loved watching him unearth the remains of the true Hattie Hoffman and bring them into the light for everyone to see.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a fascinating read that looks at manipulation, blame and desire and leaves you with plenty to think about. If you like books with complex characters that have you questioning everything you think you know about right and wrong you won’t want to miss this book!

Follow the rest of the blog tour

Friday, 10 March 2017

See How They Lie Extract and Giveaway

Hello everyone! Today I have an extract of the highly anticipated new book from #ZoellaBookClub author Sue Wallman for you and if you like what you read then you're in luck as I have three copies of See How They Lie up for grabs over on Twitter!

For your chance to win 1/3 copies of See How They Lie head over to Twitter

Monday, 6 March 2017

Feb Faves: Books, Beauty and Black Girl Magic

It only feels like two minutes ago since I was sat here typing up my January favourites and here I am again back with another batch of things I've been loving this past month. February is typically my least favourite month of the year but this February was actually pretty good to me and there have been lots of good things happening and things I have been enjoying so let's get started shall we?

Favourite Books


February was a mostly good reading month for me and I ended up reading a lot of thrillers but between them I decided to pick up The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond for a bit of a lighter read and I absolutely loved it! The book follows Georgie, Charlotte and Rosa who are all living in the same house on the Brighton seafront and each of them has their own story about how they've come to live there and why they have decided to have a fresh start by the sea. I loved all three characters and enjoyed seeing a friendship blossom between them as the story continued. It's a beautiful and uplifting book about friendship, starting over, second chances and is perfect for spring time. The second book that I loved this month was The Breakdown by B.A. Paris, I was a huge fan of Behind Closed Doors when it was released last year and so The Breakdown was one of my most anticipated thrillers of 2017 and it didn't disappoint! B.A. Paris does suspense and tension so, so well and she's quickly becoming one of my favourite crime writers. I wrote a review for The Breakdown here and also interviewed B.A. Paris for the blog tour last month so do check those out if you're interested in the book.

Favourite to Listen to 

When I was growing up I absolutely loved the animated movie Anastasia so my eight-year-old self was bursting at the seams when I found out that it was being adapted into a musical on Broadway and since then I've been following all of the latest news. In February their YouTube channel uploaded this video of Christy Altomare who will be playing Anastasia singing one of my favourite songs from the movie Journey to the Past and she absolutely smashed it! I really hope that the soundtrack gets released so that I can listen to some old favourites plus the new tracks and I have my fingers crossed that it will come over to the UK at some point because I need this musical in my life.

Favourite to Watch

Hidden Figures - where do I even start with this movie!? From beginning to end I sat in the cinema teary eyed, my emotions switching from horror, to anger, to happiness and then finally to pride. As a woman, this was an incredibly empowering and emotional film to watch and so I can't even begin to imagine how it would feel to be a black woman watching this movie. Hidden Figures is pure black girl magic from beginning to end. It made me check my privilege and evaluate the ways in which we have changed, but more importantly it made me think about the ways we have not and the progress that still needs to happen. I'm completely awestruck every time I think about this film. It's essential viewing for all!

Favourite in Beauty

Last month Charlotte Tilbury released two new lipsticks for Valentine's Day and being the lipstick and Charlotte Tilbury fan that I am I knew that I had to invest in them! The first lipstick on the left is called Valentine and is a pretty light pink nude colour. It's made with the glossy K.I.S.S.I.N.G formula leaving a nice sheen on the lips. And on the right is Pillowtalk, my personal favourite of the two, which is honest to God the best nude lipstick I have ever tried! I'm more of a bold lip kinda gal but this month I have been obsessed with Pillowtalk it's the perfect every day go-to lipstick that goes with everything and the matte revolution formula means that it lasts for hours without budging even after eating and drinking. Charlotte Tilbury's lipsticks really are the best of the best and are the only thing I put on my lips these days. If you're considering giving her lipsticks a go then I'd say these are two great, wearable shades to start with that would suit any skin tone.

 Favourite Online 

I've been trying to spend less time online and on my phone in general over the past month or so but one thing that I loved online in February was this collab video featuring two of my favourite YouTubers Laci Green and Ingrid Nilsen talking all things lesbian from stereotypes to sex to coming out. It was such a great and informative video and is well worth a watch.

Favourite Thing

The best thing to happen to me this month was managing to get Ed Sheeran tour tickets! Me and my lovely friend Chelle from Tales of Yesterday tried both the presale and the general sale only to come away empty handed but I finally managed to get us tickets on Valentine's Day via Twickets Ed's official partnership website for the tour. Seeing Ed perform live has been on my bucket list since way back in his + days. He's my favourite artist and I was actually shaking whilst filling in my details I was that excited. I know so many people who struggled to get tickets and so I feel very, very lucky that we'll be going to see him in April.

Favourite Memory

Photo credit to Tales of Yesterday

Last month I went to the Falling in Love and Fandom event hosted by Waterstones Birmingham to support Chelle who chaired the event and to hear authors (left to right) Lauren James, Miranda Dickinson and Maggie Harcourt talk everything romance for Valentine's Day and to get my books signed. It was such a great event and lots of bloggers turned up so it was really good to put names to new faces and to catch up with old friends at the same time.

What were some of your favourite things in February? 
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