Monday, 30 January 2017

The Things I Should Have Told You Blog Tour

Hello everyone! Today I'm so excited to be kicking off The Things I Should Have Told You blog tour. I absolutely love Carmel Harrington and am thrilled to have her on the blog today sharing a guest post on the time she met one of her own favourite authors, Jilly Cooper.

Meeting Jilly Cooper by Carmel Harrington 
I’ve always been a self professed, proud, book geek. As a child my favourite place to visit was our local library and every night I transported myself to new and exciting worlds, with just a flick of a page. Then, one rainy Sunday afternoon, when I was fifteen, I picked up a copy of Rider’s, by the author Jilly Cooper. I had to hide this one from my mother, who wouldn’t have approved. That cover, with the cheeky hand! By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of the shenanigans of Rupert Campbell Black. Like a child given just one chocolate button, I craved more. You see, Jilly Cooper’s raucous romps set in the beautiful English countryside, are glorious. Her writing is witty, funny, romantic, corny, sexy and unputdownable.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I’d get to meet her. But guess what? I did! Brace yourselves, there’s no way around this, I’m going to have to get all boasty mcboasty for a bit….

You see it all came about because I was shortlisted for a BGE Irish Book Award in 2016, for The Things I Should Have Told You. I can’t explain how much that meant to me. But then, to top that, news leaked that Jilly Cooper was being honoured with a LifeTime Achievement Award and my giddiness levels skyrocketed.

On the awards night, holding Charlotte Ledger’s hand, (my gorgeous editor), we made our way to Jilly’s table. A crowd had formed around her, as other writers and publishing folk took their turn to say hello.

L-R, Carmel Harrington, Jilly Cooper, Charlotte Ledger

Finally she turned to us. I think we both curtseyed. I know I did. We were meeting book royalty after all.

I breathlessly told Jilly how much I adored her books, how I devoured them as a young adult, how loved she was here in Ireland, how much I loved her.

And do you know what she did?

She leaned down and kissed my hand, then said in that beautiful, terribly posh, lilting voice, ‘Oh you are heavenly.’

Me. Heavenly. Words that she would have used to describe beloved characters like Taggie. I shall never forget that.

I didn’t win an Irish Book Award on the night. But I didn’t walk away empty handed.
I met one of my heroines and she didn't disappoint one tiny bit. 
To rob her phrase, she was heavenly.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Review for My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon
Publisher: Penguin
Release: 12th January 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"I want to make my husband fall back in love with me. 

Let me explain. This isn't an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven't been reading articles in old women's magazines. 'Twenty ways to keep your man'. That couldn't be further from the truth. 

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he'll care. He won't just think, 'Oh good'.  
I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert's back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he's one of the nation's most popular actors. And Paula's just discovered he's having an affair.

She's going to remind Robert just what he's sacrificing. And then she's going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. Isn't it?"

I’ve been hearing great things about Jane Fallon’s books for years so when My Sweet Revenge dropped through my letterbox for review I was so excited to give it a go. I’m an absolute sucker for stories about revenge and this book, true to its title, is one of the sweetest, most satisfying revenge stories that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

When Paula finds out that her husband is having an affair she has two options:

1.) Confront him, get a divorce, and watch him ride off into the sunset with his mistress


2.) Make her husband fall back in love with her before telling him to sling his hook for good

Paula has already sacrificed so much for Robert and their marriage, hurt and angry she decides that she’s going to show Robert exactly what he’s missing so that when she leaves she’ll hurt him like he’s hurt her. It’s time to give her darling husband a taste of his own medicine. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

My Sweet Revenge is the most entertaining book that I’ve read in a while. Paula is such an easy character to love and you root for her from start to finish. This book has so many twists and turns that it could give a thriller a run for its money! It’s an incredibly moreish read that I found myself returning to at any spare moment because I just had to know what would happen next.

The only thing that stopped this book from getting a 5 star rating from me was the fact that Paula lost weight to make Robert fall in love with her again. It’s a trope that I’m tired of seeing and made this book slightly less enjoyable for me personally. I’d much rather Paula have got her revenge staying exactly as she was, because even at her heaviest she deserved better than Robert.

That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed My Sweet Revenge, so much so that I immediately went out and bought Jane Fallon’s Strictly Between Us after finishing this one.

My Sweet Revenge is smart and sassy women’s fiction at its best. Jane Fallon has a new fan in me!

Monday, 23 January 2017

Wing Jones Blog Tour: Photo No. 37 - Significant Life Events

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK.

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites 

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

Today I am so excited to be hosting a stop on the brilliant Wing Jones Photo Blog Tour! I absolutely loved this book, you can check out my review here for my full thoughts on it. Today's photo features three of my favourite authors and I am so excited to share it with you as part of this tour.

Photo No. 37 - Significant Life Events

I love a book launch. And I especially love a book launch for author friends! Getting to celebrate my friends’ successes is one of my favorite parts about being in this community. This was at Sara Barnard’s launch for her beautiful debut, Beautiful Broken Things. I love that book, and I love the idea of a Significant Life Event. Getting a book published is certainly one of my biggest Significant Life Events!

Make sure that you check out the rest of the blog tour stops here
Wing Jones is available to buy in all good bookshops across the UK now

Friday, 20 January 2017

Chasing Shadows Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Chasing Shadows blog tour. Today I have a guest post from author T.A. Williams on writing a blind character.

T.A. Williams On Writing a Blind Character 
I’m not sure when or why I decided to make the main protagonist of Chasing Shadows blind. Normally with my books I can recall some seminal moment in which an idea occurred, but with this one, nothing. It just sort of happened. I think it makes the book a lot more powerful as a result, but, for a writer, it certainly threw up a load of unexpected problems.

Firstly, there’s very little body language or non-verbal communication that doesn’t involve the power of sight. Yes, there are squeezes on the arm, clicks of the tongue, murmurs of approval and whistles of surprise, but so much revolves around visual clues. In a story where one person is blind, there are no nods of the head, no shrugs of the shoulders, no knowing looks. In fact, as I wrote it, I found myself realising for the first time just how difficult it must be for blind people not just to find their way around, but to interact with other people. In Chasing Shadows, Amy, the blind heroine, reflects on this point.

Her mind strayed to the Welsh nurse. What was her name? Nicky? Jackie? She couldn’t remember exactly, but she recalled the occasion. It was when she was sent home from hospital. Or, more precisely, when she was sent back to a near empty house, echoing with the memories of her family who would never again share the house with her. The visiting nurse had told her the problems she was encountering with her boyfriend, Wayne or Duane or some such. 

Throughout the whole sad story, Amy had listened sympathetically, while deep inside her she would have given a lot for a Wayne or a Duane of her own. But when you’re blind - or at least recently blinded - there are very few occasions to meet Waynes and Duanes. And even if you ever did, the chances of them treating you as a normal girl are as good as non-existent. The chance meeting, the casual coffee, the proverbial glance across the crowded room were all things of the past. And as for a casual affair… Being visually handicapped, she had learnt early on, could also mean being physically handicapped in other ways.

The other difficulty that Amy’s blindness threw up as far as the writing is concerned, was the whole question of description. Luke, her companion on the journey, has to describe everything to her as they go along, and that includes such vitally important matters as where the toilet paper is situated in the bathroom and how hot the food looks. Of course, it also gave me the opportunity to imagine myself in the position of a blind person, using her enhanced senses to locate a car even though the engine is turned off, find a coal shed in a blizzard or try to determine what sort of wood a table is made of, by touch alone. It was a fascinating, and sobering experience and I am greatly indebted to Darren from local sight loss charity Devon In Sight for his input.

In the course of the book, Amy seeks to establish some sort of equilibrium in her life and to come to terms with her handicap. As I wrote Chasing Shadows, I learnt a lot about just what it means to be blind. So, next time you see one of those lovely Labradors wearing a hi-viz jacket walking down the road, spare a thought, and some time, for the person holding the reins. That person could be you.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Review for The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper
Publisher: Little Brown
Release: 12th January 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets."

In the small dried up country town of Kiewarra Australia, three gunshots are fired on another blisteringly hot day. Three lives are taken and the smoking barrel is found next to the corpse of Luke Hadler, the husband and father of the other two victims. All evidence points to Luke Hadler killing his family before turning the gun on himself.

When policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for his childhood best friend Luke’s funeral he can’t help but get caught up in the case, but Kiewarra is a ghost town of bad memories for Aaron after him and his father were run out of town many years ago when Aaron was a suspect in the death of local teen girl Ellie Deacon.

Despite being hounded by the locals upon his return, Aaron is determined to find out what really happened to the Hadler family, because in a town as desperate as Kiewarra everyone has a motive to kill.

The Dry was such an accomplished crime debut, Jane Harper’s writing is so vivid that I could almost taste the dirt and feel the heat of the sun on my skin as I was reading. The setting was so clear and vivid to me that it made the reading experience feel cinematic. The farming town of Kiewarra practically becomes a character in itself, it’s a place where desperation hangs heavy in the air making you feel like anything could happen.

The plot is incredibly well crafted intertwining the build up to the death of Ellie Deacon all those years ago and the fall out of the Hadler murders in the present day with effortless ease. Every character in this book felt so well developed with their own agendas and secrets which made me suspect everyone at some point or another.

Overall The Dry was an atmospheric and compelling study on what people are capable of when they’re pushed to the brink.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Review for Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber 
Publisher: Walker Books
Release: 5th January 2017
Genre: UKYA, Contemporary, Diverse YA
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants."

Wing Jones was easily my most anticipated YA debut of 2017 so my expectations for this book were already sky high to begin with and yet I was still taken aback by how much I loved this book – it’s seriously that good.

The story follows Wing Jones, a biracial teenage girl with a huge heart and a loveable family. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, Wing doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere and is content to stand in her big brother Marcus’s shadow cheering him on from the sidelines as he wins game after game as the star quarterback.

When Marcus is involved in a drink driving accident that kills two people and leaves him in a coma, Wing has to deal with her brother’s fall from grace in their community, her family’s mounting medical bills, and the possibility that her big brother might not wake up.

To deal with her problems Wing takes up running and to her surprise finds that she’s good at it, better than good. Wing started running to escape but as word of her talent gets out she’s suddenly the one thrust under the spotlight.

When a life changing opportunity presents itself Wing has to decide: does she continue to run away from her problems? Or find the courage to run towards her dreams?

Wing is one of the most inspirational young heroines that I’ve ever read about. Her voice is incredibly well written balancing the right amount of uncertainty and quiet inner strength of a young woman coming into her own for the first time. Despite not being interested in running in the slightest I connected strongly with Wing’s passion and determination, I’m sure that her story will spark a fire in the heart of every reader who has ever took the lemons life has handed them and made lemonade.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was Wing’s family life. Every character in this book sparkles in their own special way but none more so than Wing’s grandmothers Granny Dee and LaoLao. Despite coming from two different backgrounds and cultures the two women are more alike than they realize sharing a love for food and their family. I really appreciated this subtle and timely message from Katherine Webber on how we’re all more alike than different where it matters.

Wing Jones has sprinted on to the YA scene with a heroine whose heart leaps off the page touching the readers own. This debut novel about losing your way, finding your feet, and chasing your dreams is not to be missed!

Friday, 6 January 2017

5 Unmissable Books to Look Out For in 2017

Since October I have been working my way through the 2017 proofs that I've been sent and let me tell you, 2017 is looking great for books! Today I wanted to share with you five of the best 2017 releases I have read so far that you won't want to miss this year!

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Publication Date: 26th January 2017
Synopsis: "Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules.

After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession."

Why It's Unmissable - I'm a huge fan of psychological thrillers and this is the freshest, slickest thriller I've read for some time. The story is told in alternate chapters between Jane the current tenant of One Folgate Street, and Emma the girl who lived there before. One Folgate Street seems to have a presence of its own with its cold, minimalist style and odd set of house rules enforced by the architect who designed the house. As Jane and Emma's chapters become more and more entwined you can't help but wonder what happened to Emma? And is Jane destined to follow in her footsteps?

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Publication Date: 5th January 2017
Synopsis: "With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants."

Why It's Unmissable - I have been anticipating Wing Jones for the longest time and it surpassed my already very high expectations. Wing Jones has sprinted on to the YA scene with a heroine whose heart leaps off the page touching the readers own. It's a book about losing your way, finding your feet and having the courage to chase your dreams. This is the kind of book that makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy whenever I think about it and I am already craving a re-read, it's that good.

This Is How It Always Is 
by Laurie Frankel
Publication Date: 9th February 2017
Synopsis: "Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time - and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?"

Why It's Unmissable - This Is How It Always Is is such a special and important book following Claude, a little boy who wants to be a little girl. It's a book about family, acceptance and having the courage to show the world who you truly are. I loved Claude/Poppy, I loved his/her rambunctious, supportive family and I loved the messages about living in the middle, not conforming and being kind. A timely book for 2017 and a must read for all.

Everything but the Truth 
by Gillian McAllister 
Publication Date: 9th March 2017
Synopsis: "It all started with the email.

It came through to her boyfriend's iPad in the middle of the night. Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack, and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment, or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?"

Why It's Unmissable - We've all Googled a new boyfriend, but what if you found something sinister? Something that didn't add up. Something they can't explain away. Something that makes them a monster. What if you were pregnant with his child? This is the situation our heroine Rachel finds herself in. This book kept me guessing throughout, I constantly felt on uneven footing and was never sure what or who to believe. Everything but the Truth is a brilliant psychological thriller that makes you question everything you think you know about these characters and asks the impossible question: how well do we ever really know those we love?

The Upside of Unrequited 
by Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: 11th April 2017
Synopsis: "Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she's lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. 

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?"

Why It's Unmissable - I absolutely loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda so when I received Becky's new novel The Upside of Unrequited I had to read it straight away and dare I say I loved this even more than Simon!? Once again Becky writes with her trademark warmth and humor this time following Molly Peskin-Suso an overweight teenager who has fallen in unrequited love one too many times. When her twin sister Cassie finds the girl of her dreams, Molly is left behind, that is until Cassie sets her up with her new girlfriend's super cute best friend Will. But this time Molly isn't content to tag along in her twin sister's shadow. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to carve her own path in life, even if it means letting Cassie go. I loved every single thing about this book and know that fans of Simon vs will not be disappointed in this new offering from Becky Albertalli!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A New Year, A New Way of Reading

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and a great New Year. I can hardly believe that it’s the 4th already and I’m so excited to begin another year of blogging. It’s that time of year where everyone is setting their Goodreads challenges and sharing their reading goals so today I wanted to talk a little bit about how I plan to read in 2017.

For the past seven years I have taken part in some reading challenge or another whether it was vowing to read a certain number of books by the end of the year, or to read more from a specific genre, for the last seven years I have pushed myself to meet targets and deadlines and whilst that was really fun and helpful to my reading a few years ago, I have since fallen out of love with the idea of reading challenges.

Over the last half of 2016 I found myself reading very differently to how I have been. I’d started stressing out about how many books I’d read and would feel pressure from myself to be reading a certain type of book to meet a challenge I set for myself and that suddenly made reading feel like a chore.

I noticed that last year if I wasn’t reading a book quickly enough or was falling behind with my goals I’d start to feel really anxious when I was reading and instead of focusing on the story I’d be paying more attention to the number of pages read and how many chapters of the book I had left. Something I’ve always loved to do began to feel really stressful and nobody was putting that pressure on me except myself.

So in 2017 I have decided to ditch reading challenges all together. Other than trying to stay on top of review books and reading books for blog tours I am going to have a free reading year to read as much or as little as I want. Reading challenges are a great way of keeping track of your reading, pushing yourself to read more and discovering new books but for me recently they’ve done me more harm than good.

Because of this new way I’ll be reading in 2017 I will no longer be doing a monthly round up of all of the books I have read each month and where I am on my reading challenge, but I will be replacing this feature with a more personal monthly favourites post highlighting not only the books I have loved but other personal favourites in my life too be them bookish events or bloggers that I have loved following. I hope you all understand and will enjoy the new changes. I will still be sharing everything I read on Goodreads and Instagram as I read it so you can follow me there if you’d like to.

Life is too short to be feeling anxious and stressed over a hobby and I’m looking forward to trying a new, more laid-back way of reading in 2017.
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