Thursday, 31 October 2013

So You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef? - Caroline James

 
Today I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for So You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef?, the new release from Caroline James.  I had heard this was a hilarious book that would have me chuckling out loud, so was really looking forward to tucking in.

The blurb...

Mix together…
A tough-cookie media agent who's clawed her way to the top, and a con-man who wants to open a cookery school. Add in a washed-up celebrity chef whose career needs re-building…

Flavour with…
An aging rock star fresh from rehab, and a Sloane Ranger food writer who gets her own TV show…

Bring to the boil…
At a Gourmet Food Festival, in Ireland, where anything goes!

When media agent Hilary Hargreaves travels to Ireland to look at a campaign for a new cookery school, she meets a blast from her past - the romantic but feckless chef Mickey Lloyd, who is hell-bent on resurrecting his flagging career. Her tough demeanour is rocked as it becomes apparent Mickey's intentions involve more than a stint behind a stove in his quest to pursue her. But as plans for the school gain momentum, she realises that she's developing more than a passing interest in reformed alcoholic Long Tom Hendry, who owns the crumbling old mansion where the school will be homed. Hilary has many ingredients to juggle with her demanding client list - which looks set to boil over if she doesn't keep control. From London's bustling Soho, to Southern Ireland and the sunny shores of the Caribbean, has Hilary got too much on her plate and is she really prepared to risk it all for love?

My thoughts...
 I enjoyed So You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef?, an escapist, farcical read that had me laughing out loud at some points.  I felt it took a while to really pick up pace, but when it did I was immersed in a world very different from my actual life!  Hilary is an interesting character, and I felt she developed well throughout the novel, although I did get frustrated at how the characters were all larger than life-although from watching many of the cooking programmes on TV, I can quite believe that many celebrity chef's actually are like those in the book!  I really liked the elements of travel in the novel which added extra interest. 

Overall, I felt this was an original book with fresh ideas, laughs and scandal.  I admit to not being a huge fan of the influx of TV chefs, so am probably not the audience Caroline James is targeting, but So You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef? may well be a dish 'foodies' gobble down in one helping.

So You Think You're A Celebrity ...Chef? is out now, published by Thornberry Publishing.

6.5/10
With thanks to Caroline James and Fiction Addiction tours.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

It's Got To Be Perfect- Haley Hill

I am absolutely delighted to be part of Haley Hill's blog tour for It's Got To Be Perfect

 
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book.  The subtitle 'The Memoirs of a Modern-Day Matchmaker' lead me to expect a diary format, which I sometimes find hard to get absorbed in, but I needn't have worried- this was set over a four year period but written in only two main sections.

Based on the author's personal experiences of running a successful dating agency, It's Got To Be Perfect is an amusing look at dating in the twenty-first century.  Ellie Rigby starts up a dating agency as her own relationship falls apart.  Determined to find if true love is a reality or a myth, Ellie's matchmaking skills sometimes leave a lot to be desired, and the a few of the characters looking for love are challenging...

Entertaining and fast paced, I enjoyed the comical stories of the nightmare dates and especially liked the feuding between Mandi and Mia, Ellie's assistants.  Anyone who has ever had to work with someone who has opposing viewpoints to themselves will be able to relate to their disagreements!

This isn't a book I would necessarily have chosen for myself, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This may well appeal to fans of Imogen Edwards-Jones's Babylon series, or anyone looking for a light hearted, fun-filled read.

It's Got To Be Perfect is out now.

7/10

Monday, 28 October 2013

Autobiography-Morrissey

Always known for courting controversy, Morrissey managed to cause a stir with his autobiography.  Long-awaited by fans and the music industry, the release of Autobiography was delayed and then subjected to an embargo, giving added publicity to a book which surely didn't need it.  Published under the Penguin Classics imprint, usually reserved for established, successful authors, there has been much debate about Morrissey's right to sit alongside Austen, Joyce and Waugh.  Yet for over thirty years Morrissey has been capturing the imagination of his audience through his lyrics, a poet with a power to encapsulate emotion and touch the deepest, darkest thoughts of recent generations. 

I am a Morrissey fan.  I am a Smiths fan.  I've been fortunate enough to see Morrissey live three times.  I share some of the same political views as Morrissey (although certainly not all) and believe that meat is indeed murder.  However, I don't fit into the Mozza stereotype.  For me Morrissey is not a godlike figure who can do no wrong, he is human and fallible. 

To actually hold Autobiography in my hands after such a long, drawn out wait felt momentous.  I didn't want to be disappointed, and most of all I hoped beyond all hope that it would be entertaining, anecdotal and free from bitterness.

Written in prose, yet in no means prosaic, Autobiography gives an insight into Morrissey's family background, and on a wider scale also acts as a social history- Northern life in the reasonably recent past that seems so far removed from the regeneration projects taking place in Liverpool, Sheffield and of course Manchester.

Sometimes Morrissey comes across as coy and guarded, at other times like a petulant child spoiling for a fight.  Autobiography inevitably covers Morrissey's time in the Smiths, although there are perhaps less pages dedicated to this pivotal, formative stage in his career than fans will hope.  Contrastingly, the section around the Joyce trial is scathing (as expected) although is rather longwinded and repetitive.  I can completely understand that Morrissey has used Autobiography as a platform to convey his side of the trial, and for what it is worth I completely agree with his arguments, but to this reader it did come across as acerbic and sardonic, and felt at odds with much of the rest of the book.  Obviously this is Morrissey's story and he can write it how he wants, but the beauty and lyricism of the rest of the book is completely missing from what is one of the most memorable sections of Autobiography.

So, did I learn about Morrissey from Autobiography?  Yes, certainly.  His vulnerability and flaws are presented plainly to be seen and when writing about his experience of depression Morrissey touched a nerve with me and probably many others who have suffered the affliction of this malady.

Is it worth the hype?  For fans, yes.  For anyone interested in the music industry, yes.  For the general public or someone looking at it purely on literary value?  Maybe, maybe not.  Whilst the imagery Morrissey conjures up is as evocative as anyone who has heard his music will expect, sometimes the sentence structure and punctuation is awkward and unnatural.  It reads much like a freewrite, a splurge of words and emotions spewed onto the page.

This probably reads like a fairly negative review, when really it is not at all.  Quirks and obsessions are beautifully recorded; longing and emotion for normality, acceptance and love are insightful and intense. 

I did say I wouldn't stoop to the cliché of a Morrissey lyric to end this review, and certainly not that he is human and needs to be loved, but somehow that seems fitting.  The allure of Morrissey continues to reign.

Autobiography is out now, published by Penguin Classics.

9/10

With thanks to Penguin for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Bunny at Salford Lads Club, 2005

Where We Are, Our Band, Our Story- One Direction

I am slightly reluctant to admit that I, a thirty four year old woman, have developed a rather large crush on Louis Tomlinson.  Yes, I am just about old enough to be his mother (if I had had him extremely young!) but those exquisite cheekbones and that chiselled jawline... I can certainly see why girls have their hearts set aflutter by One Direction.

Where We Are is an 100% official book, and is, as I expected of very high quality.  Hardbacked and printed on thick, heavyweight paper, it will definitely stand up to having the pages repeatedly drooled over and stroked, not that I have tried...  There are a great selection of pictures of the band, from portraits to shots of them in the recording studio, from their time in Africa with Comic Relief to pictures of their adoring and dedicated fans.

Although almost a coffee table book in style, fans will be able to get an insight into the lives of Louis, Harry, Zayn, Niall and Liam through the sections on each member and a whole band interview.  I do feel it would have benefitted from a bit more of this, however, the photographs manage to capture each of the group and their individuality perfectly, which is a great testament to the bands official photographer Calvin Aurand.

This book is a must for Directioners and I am sure any fan would be delighted to find Where We Are in their Christmas stocking, although this fan is hoping to find Louis himself wrapped up under her Christmas tree (I have been a good girl this year, honest!)

Where We Are is out now, published by Harper Collins.

9/10

With thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

'You've Never Read Jane Eyre?!' by guest blogger Yvonne

Today I am welcoming Yvonne onto my blog.  Yvonne is an old friend (in that I have known her a while, not that she is aging especially quickly!) and has her own book blog.  Here she is...

Hi, I'm Yvonne and my typical book genres to read are chick lit or crime thriller.  
 
I have always loved reading and throughout my time in education it never featured what I would call 'the classics' which can commonly lead to people saying 'You've Never Read ANY of the classics'?  Sure I read some Shakespeare and one of my all time favourite books is Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian but I've never delved into the world of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters and the like.  
 
I have always wanted to read these kinds of books but for some reason the language, settings, clothing and lifestyle just don't appeal to me at all- this even extends to the big screen in that I have never watched Pride & Prejudice and small screen having never seen Downton Abbey.  It's not to say I'm not cultured in any way I loved nothing more than watching Les Miserables at Queens Theatre in the West End or visiting the birthplace of Dylan Thomas when I was in Wales.  
 
When Kate asked for volunteers to take part in this feature I thought it gave me the perfect opportunity to have a go at reading one of these books loved by millions of people worldwide.  I took a while to decide which book to read for my first foray into the classics so after reading a bit about them and some advice from the lovely Kate I plumped for Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  Putting my reservations aside I purchased a copy of the book and settled down to get stuck in, I made it to chapter 11 (not in one go) before I had to admit defeat- for now.  
 
I don't have much time to devote to reading in one sitting and I found it really challenging to get used to the writing style so by the time I had done that I had to hang up my book for the night making it difficult to really get into what was happening, I feel I didn't even really get into the meaty part of the book either.  
 
I would say I will give this book another try but probably when I am on holiday so have more time to devote to reading and being able to absorb myself in the story.  I read an article by Malorie Blackman not long after she has become the Children's Laureate and she said she felt forcing children to read the classics put them off books- and I think the same can be said for adults too, it is usually a great surprise to other readers like myself I have never read any of the classics (yet) but that doesn't mean my reading isn't as well rounded as theirs, it just isn't a genre that I have really discovered.  I was hoping this feature would allow me to read the book and love it and others like it as so many other people do, maybe its just not the right time for me yet.

Thanks for having me Kate- its been fun :-). 

You can contact Yvonne Kidd about her blog via-
Twitter: @mrskidster

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Guesting on Laura's Little Book Blog

Today I am the guest blogger on Laura's Little Book Blog.  Laura is one of the most influential bloggers to me, she is so encouraging and always happy to help out anyone looking for articles and reviews.

So I was more than willing to return the favour by taking part in Laura's spooky reading reviews for Hallowe'en.  You can see my review of Doll Bones by Holly Black here.

Thanks Laura, for all your support and friendship and also for allowing me to invade your beautiful blog! x

Begin with Goodbye- Volume 1 - Lilly Wright


Begin with Goodbye is a serialised novel, expected to be completed in seven parts.  This first part is 18 pages long, and introduces the reader to Samantha, who is reluctantly back in her hometown for her sister's funeral.  Samantha is not only learning to live with her bereavement but is also having to face her sister's husband, her own former lover Julian.

Whilst I enjoyed the first person narrative which allowed some astute observations, I found Begin with Goodbye a bit rushed at times and the plot felt far-fetched.  I am a fan of romantic fiction, but I just didn't feel like I bonded at all with any of the characters.  The sudden ending, which is perhaps to be expected in a serialised book, left me unfulfilled, which was a shame as there were parts of this book which really appealed, especially some of the more emotive aspects.

I wouldn't rush out to get the next instalment of Begin with Goodbye, but can imagine that it may do well if they ever get published in one complete volume.

Begin with Goodbye is out now, published by All Night Reads.

6/10

With thanks to the publisher who gave me a copy of this in return for an honest review.



'You've Never Read Harry Potter or Twilight?!' by guest blogger Tanya

Today I am introducing Tanya from the After the Final Chapters blog.  I can't quite believe she has never read Harry Potter OR Twilight, but she hasn't!  Here's why....

I have never read..

…well most of the books that you would expect a book addict/reviewer to have read. I used to read an awful lot in my teens and tweens, even my early twenties. However like with a lot of people life got in the way and I was having my family. While I was popping out babies (3 in less than 3 years) I am sure you will forgive me for not reading. Sure I tried a few times but nothing grabbed my interest long enough. Until…yes you guessed it Christian Grey came along with his flogger and his red room of pain and just like that I was hooked. Now instead of life getting in the way of reading, reading is getting in the way of life. Just the way I like it ;)

However my little hiatus from reading also means that I haven’t read all those books that people assume everyone has read. I haven’t read Twilight nor have I read Harry Potter.  I have both of these in my Kobo and I can honestly say hand on my heart. NO I will not be reading them.  Why. Well for a start , I do my best not to do paranormal/fantasy. If it can’t happen then I don’t want to know about it. I honestly do not see the appeal. I haven’t watched the movies either. I can maybe see the attraction with twilight, I’ve heard it’s all angsty and stuff, which I will be the first to admit I love in a book. It’s why I love the New Adult genre and Indie authors so much. They give it in spades. The only problem I have with it is the vampires. I’m guessing that would be a big problem.

Again with Harry Potter, just don’t get it. And I know there are legions of fans out there who will probably want to hunt me down – what is the big deal? They aren’t even characters you can crush on, they are kids :/ In saying that, my oldest son is about to turn 6 and something tells me he is the very one that is going to introduce me to Hogwarts!


@aftrthfnlchptrs



 
With thanks to Tanya for taking the time to be part of 'You've Never Read....?!' week..
 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Incoming #8

I have tried so hard not to bring more book into my house this week as I have a pile as tall as a small mountain waiting to be read.

I failed.

This week the following books have arrived-

For review-
 
 
 
 
 
And I bought...
 
 
 
 
 

'You've Never Read The Lord of the Rings, The Cement Garden or Fifty Shades of Grey?!' by guest blogger Emma Louise

I 'met' Emma Louise via the wonderful world of twitter and have always enjoyed her take on the world relating to reading.  Today she shares with us the books that people are always surprised she hasn't read.  Over to Emma Louise...

I’d just like to thank Kate for kindly having me on her blog today! It’s an unusual topic, one that many people never stop to think about. There are so many books in the world and unfortunately, we can’t read them all. I wish we could. However, there are certain ones which I have avoided...


Fifty Shades Of Grey by E L James

This is a bestselling book and I’m puzzled why. From what I have heard, the spelling and punctuation is awful but readers have seen past this and enjoyed the trilogy. But why do I see women on trains hiding the front cover behind a magazine? Perhaps they’re ashamed. I mean let’s face it, everyone has sex and we all love a good bonkbuster from time to time – I mean I adore Rebecca Chance who is the Queen of sexy books, nobody can top that lady!

            So why have I avoided the trilogy? Simple; it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t mind people talking about it but quite frankly, I don’t have an opinion on it. I’ll be honest, when I was writing a very saucy scene for a novel I’m working on, I did purchase a sample copy on my Kindle. My eyes widened when I read a couple of sentences. I’ve been called a frigid prune for not reading it, which is funny actually, because I’m not. Some people haven’t read Harry Potter (god knows why!) and some haven’t read the sex trilogy like myself.

 

The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

During my third and final year of my Bachelor Honours Degree, we were given a list of set novels which I had to read and watch for our Text To Screen module. For those wondering, I did a split degree of Creative Writing & Film Studies. This set list was for Film Studies. Can I just say how much I loved that module, I’d be happy to do it all over again and I got a First in my HP essay!

            So, why did I avoid this particular book? Actually, I didn’t. I read the first couple of pages and ended up being sick. It’s about incest. Put it this way: when the father dies, the boy is masturbating in the mirror whilst thinking about his little sister. Horrible, isn’t it? Well, you guys didn’t have to hide behind your hands whilst your lecturer forced you to watch the film! Some things aren’t worth a degree...

 

Lord Of The Rings by JR Tolkien

I know that this is a well loved series but for me, it was the language which I found hard to get into. Again, this is a text which I had to read for my Film Studies Degree. I watched the second film as this was the chosen text from the series but that is three hours of my life which I will, sadly, never get back.

            So, why did I avoid this particular book? Like I said above, it was because of the language but also, I’m a big fan of characters. For me, the characters are extremely important for me. If they don’t jump out at me (and I don’t mean literally), then I close the book shut and I probably won’t pick it back up.
 

I can’t think of any more books which I have purposely avoided, but these are definitely the main three. There are fans all the over the world who have different opinions of different novels and we’ll all entitled to our own say. Some like horror, I prefer romance. Although I have watched The Woman In Black and that is another one book which I will never read! In case you’re wondering, I only watched the film because Daniel Radcliffe was the main actor and everyone knows I’m in love with him!

Again, thank you to the lovely Kate for allowing me to guest post on her blog. I’ve had an absolute blast sharing my choices with you all.

If you’re interested in my opinions or if you’re a romance/chick-lit fan, pop over to my blog: www.emmaiswriting.wordpress.com where you can find book reviews, author interviews, guest posts, cover reveals, my schedule for the rest of the year and of course, my TBR list!

Lots of love,

Emma Louise xx

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Secrets of a Chalet Girl- Lorraine Wilson

After the success of Confessions of a Chalet Girl (read my thoughts on it here) , Lorraine Wilson has come back with another short book about love on the slopes.

This time we find Flora in Verbier alongside the wealthy playboys. From the start of the novella I wanted to know more about her, she seemed to be quietly confident and on a journey of self discovery.  Flora has been betrayed before, but surely Verbier is the perfect place to meet an eligible batchelor?

Enter Zac, devilishly good looking and fully aware of his charms, Flora is immediately attracted to him.  When her friends dare her to approach him, she plucks up the courage to take the plunge and the story begins...

Handsome Zac set my heart aflutter and there is definitely something about the winter landscape, log cabins and roaring fires that appeals to my romantic side.  Although he comes across as a bit cock-sure I still found myself drawn to him and he makes a great love interest for Flora.  This one is definitely raunchier than the previous Chalet Girl book, and whilst not veering right over into erotica there are definitely elements of this book that will appeal to fans of that genre too.

I also loved how the friendship between the girls was portrayed, they seem like so much fun and I wished I had a group of friends who looked out for each other the way they do.  Although I'm not convinced I could keep up with their partying!

For pure escapism and raunchy romance, Secrets of a Chalet Girl is a great wintery read-grab a hot chocolate and warm croissant and cosy up with it under a duvet. Now I'm off to dream about my latest book crush...

Secrets of a Chalet Girl is out now, published by Harper Impulse.

8/10

With thanks to Harper Impulse for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Do You Remember?- Mandy Baggot

 
Harper Impulse are fast becoming one of my favourite romance publishers.  They manage to offer a wide variety of books within the genre, and I'm yet to be disappointed!

Do You Remember? is a story of the all encompassing nature of first love.  Set in France in 2005,the book follows the relationship between Emma, who has recently lost her mother and Guy.  They are swept away by their feelings for each other, falling quickly and deeply.  However, love rarely runs smoothly and Emma returns home from her holiday with a broken heart...

Fast forward to the present day and Emma is raising her young son and working crazily hard in her job as an English teacher.  She is settled with a boyfriend who adores her.  So when Guy reappears in her life Emma is completely unprepared for the emotions that overcome her.

I absolutely loved this book!  I'm a bit of a sappy romantic at heart and this book ticked all the boxes.  I thought Emma and Guy's relationship came across as very real, especially the portrayal of their time in France where the longing and desire oozes off the page.  The plot was simple but had enough little twists and turns to keep me guessing about aspects of it.  I was desperate to find out if there would be a happy ending and would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a heartwarming read.

8.5/10

With thanks to Harper Impulse for providing me with a review copy of this book.

'You've never read Twilight?!' by guest blogger Clare

Today I'm welcoming Clare from the A book and tea blog.  She's here to tell us why she's never read Twilight....


Vampires don't sparkle!

You might be surprised to know that I haven't read 'Twilight'. Well, that's a little lie; I've read some and didn't like it, so stopped. I guess you could say I’ve never read it, right?

I love the fantasy genre and weirdly there's nothing sexier than a male vampire, but with Twilight, I just felt it didn't make much sense. Since when did Vampires sparkle? Never! I'm a firm believer in living in your imagination, but no, it doesn't work so, stop it!

Now, don’t get me wrong I think the story is a great one and that’s why I started it in the first place and I would happily have carried on if it wasn’t written so poorly. The hypercritical siren is probably blaring at me right now because I am not the best at grammar and sometimes I’m sure my sentences make sense, but I’m not a published author.

I always feel bad that I don't finish a book because in reality it means I don't give it a fair judgement, but from watching the film and reading other reviews I don't think I'll bother. I just don't understand how so many people could hate a book so much for the comments not be justified.

I'm surprised at how against the book I am because I like lovey-dovey romance sometimes but I mustn't be falling for it anymore? Plus, do Robert Patterson and Kirsten Stewart really need that much magazine space?

I think it is safe to say I wouldn’t be reading it again. I hope I'm not insulting anyone because I didn't intend to. If you enjoy something it shouldn't matter what I say.

Clare

abookandtea.wordpress.com
@abookandtea

 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

'You've Never Read Bridget Jones's Diary?!' by guestblogger Laura


Today I'm welcoming the lovely Laura from Laura's Little Book Blog to share that she has never read Bridget Jones's Diary...
 
Why I’ve never read… Bridget Jones's Diary


Diary Entry no.1

 

10:56am

 

As I am talking about why I have never read Bridget Jones Diary, I thought I would write this as a diary entry- clever huh- no? OK, so no it’s not that clever. Fine, I’m going to carry on anyway.

 

So why have I not read Bridget Jones Diary, the book that has had women talking for years.

 

Well the main and boring reason was the books came out when I was 7 years old in 1996, so it was kind of unlikely that I would read the book at that age! I heard about the film release when I got older, but then I was still only 12, so didn’t appeal to me. But over the years I’ve caught bits of it on TV and it is definitely watchable and is very funny. I don’t think I have ever sat down and watched both films the whole way through, but they have been on the TV so much I must have watched them both from beginning to end by now, even if it has been a collection of different parts at different times.  The films were really good though and as I am getting older I can definitely relate to her struggles with men! There are also some hilarious quotes in the film:

 

[answering phone]

Bridget: Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess, with a very bad man between her thighs... Mum... Hi.

 

[Bridget glimpses Mark for the first time]

Bridget: Perhaps this is the mysterious Mr. Right I have been waiting my whole life to meet.

[sees reindeer sweater]

Bridget: Maybe not.

 

Bridget: Resolution #1: Uggg - will obviously lose 20 lbs. #2: Always put last night's panties in the laundry basket. Equally important: will find nice sensible boyfriend and stop forming romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, sexaholics, commitment-phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts. Will especially stop fantasizing about a particular person who embodies all these things.

 

When I heard that Mad About the Boy was going to come out, I was actually thinking of giving the books a go and then she announced beforehand that she had killed off Mark Darcy!! What the actual F**K?!!! OK I have only watched the films, but I loved Collin Firth in them and the Mark Darcy character that he played so I am bitterly disappointed because I was genuinely going to give Mad About the Boy a try, but now I’m not even going to bother.

 

 


So Helen Fielding, I think you have massively disappointed your fans and not only killed Mark Darcy, but killed off any more potential readership as you have certainly lost mine.

 

Laura x

 

 


 

 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lauraslittlebookblog?ref=hl

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Meet the Author event- Ben Aaronovitch (Off the Shelf Festival)

I mentioned last week that I had been to an event as part of the Sheffield Off The Shelf Festival of Words (you can read about it here).

Last night I, along with around 45 others, went to an event at Highfield Library to meet Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Rivers of London series.  I forgot to take my notepad with me to scribble down all the points I wanted to, so ended up desperately squeezing as much as I could onto the back of an envelope!

Here's what I found out about Ben Aaronovitch...

- He describes his family background as being 'intellectual but poor' and was a dedicated user of Highgate Children's Library as a child.  He hates to think of a generation without libraries, admitting that he loves 'that smell of old books'.  He compared libraries to dodo's, saying that if we don't protect them then one day we'll look back and wonder what on earth happened to make them all disappear.

- Ben is naturally a quiet person and often hides in his room 'not writing' (when he should be!).  He is reluctant to share his opinion on political events etc as there are 'too many opinions in the world', both from those who have knowledge and those who don't.

- He loves reading books that are part of a series.  He also enjoys audiobooks.  However, he is not keen on the Booker Prize and the like, saying he places value on what he enjoys (predominantly sci-fi).  He is a fan of Terry Pratchett.

- There is going to be a Rivers comic series, and possibly also short stories.  When asked about the possibility of 'spin offs', ben said he does have this in mind, particularly Abigail's story.

- Book 5 of the series is a departure from London and will be set in rural Herefordshire (I was very excited by this as it is my old stomping ground!).  Ben also says that this was going to be book 2, but it was suggested he would be better focusing on London as it was what readers had come to expect.

- He had a dyslexia test as a child, but the assessment was that he was 'not dyslexic, just lazy'.  Ben still struggles with spelling, saying 'there/their/they're is a bugger'.

- He used to get up at 4am to write as he was working in Waterstone's and struggled to fit in time to write.  He believes all writers make sacrifices, and that he had his 'son, job and writing-no other life'.

- He believes he had a lot of luck in that his books came out at the right time, had excellent covers and he got an interview slot on the Simon Mayo show which raised his profile hugely.

I had a fantastic time and was delighted to meet Ben Aaronovitch.  He came across as a genuine guy, affable and unable to process the success he has had.  He signed a book for me and took the time to listen to a personal story related to when I was reading Rivers of London, as well as posing for the following photo. 



Ben's advice for writers

1) You must write!  Having a novel in you is worthless- you have to get it out of you
2)  Writing is a craft skill- you get better at it by doing it
3)  Don't worry about spelling and grammar- you can get copy editors to do all that for you afterwards!
4)  Sometimes it helps to have a musical playlist, particularly film music which is emotive but often is without the distraction of lyrics
5) Remember who your protagonist is and don't be distracted by minor characters.  Ben said he has a sign that says PETER IS THE PROTAGONIST in his writing area.
6)  Ben says that characters can come to you in one of three ways.  Firstly they can spring into your mind complete (he said this happened with Peter), secondly they can be 'constructed like lego blocks' and finally they 'open the door but never leave'.  He says many of his minor characters 'urge to live' and then get extended roles in his books.
7)  If you want to write, even short stories, write at least 5,000 words to get out of the habit of writing '3 sides of a4'.
8)  Get used to rejection
9)  Don't try to predict your audience.  Ben expected only 'sci-fi geeks' to enjoy his books, but they are often chosen by book groups, WI, Grandmothers etc!
10)  Write what you want to write

'You've Never Read Jane Austen, The Lord of the Rings, The Notebook or the Karma Sutra?!' by guest blogger Kirsty

The wonderful Kirsty from Love of a Good Book blog is joining us today to share the books she's never read.  Big thanks to Kirsty for supporting Books With Bunny and writing such an entertaining piece (with a bit of added eye candy for the ladies!).  Here she is...
 
 I've always been an avid reader and my bookcase is full of genres, yes I have quite a few books in the chick lit genre but if something sparks my interest then I will read it! 
So I guess in a way I've never been a follower of book hype, if I want to read it, I want to read it! 

Because I'm a book reviewer, people assume I've read every book going (I wish) 

But there are many books I've not read, like the classics! 
I've not read anything by Jane Austen *ducks from flying objects*.
I have no excuse to give you, I just haven't read them.

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I've also never read The Lord of The Rings trilogy, I've seen all the films and loved them but I've never got around to reading them.
Both my mum and brother assure me they are fantastic books, so maybe one day I will get around to reading them.

Speaking of books that were made into films, I haven't read The Notebook and honestly I never will.
I will read other books by Nicholas Sparks, but I could never read The Notebook, knowing that I could put the film on and submerge myself in the world of the gorgeous Gosling just seems to appeal to me more. 
It's a wonderfully romantic film and yes I'm sure the book is better but Gosling wins I'm afraid! 
And all this talk of the sex god that is Gosling leads me to my next book.

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I've never read the Karma Sutra and in all fairness unless I meet a Gideon Cross I doubt I ever will.

The thing with books is that everyone takes away something different from everything they read and for every person that's not read them like me, there is someone who is currently raving about them.
All I say is, read a book today! 


Twitter: @loveofagoodbook
Facebook page: Love of a Good Book
Facebook account: LoveOf A Good Book

Monday, 21 October 2013

'You've Never Read Captain Corelli's Mandolin?!'

It's 'You've Never Read....?!' week on Books with Bunny, and I have some lovely guest bloggers coming later in the week sharing the books that they have never read.  As book bloggers, people seem to think we have read every classic, every bestseller, every current chart smash, when of course in reality there isn't the time (and sometimes the inclination) to do this.  Like anyone who reads, we have to be choosy, infact possibly moreso as we are so aware of the array of books that are released. 

I'm kicking off 'You've Never Read....?!' week with one of the books I haven't read.  Actually, I have tried, numerous times, to read Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres but I just cannot get into it.

I wanted to love it.  It was in the BBC Big Read list and my best friend raves about it.  Another very close friend asked me to do a reading at her wedding, which was a massive honour, and- you've guessed it- it was from Captain Corelli's Mandolin!*

I love a good love story and had been promised that this was right up there with the best of them, but I just couldn't get past all the war talk.  I really don't like books about wars, unless they are more about the people rather than the politics.  The characters in Captain Corelli's Mandolin seem to be caricatures and held no appeal to me. 

I've never seen the film either, despite it being a box office hit. 

This one just isn't for me.

*This is the reading that I did at Helen and Ashley's wedding in 2009.  It is completely beautiful and rereading it now makes me think perhaps I should try this book again.  But then I remember the pea in the ear and the monotony of the war and history talk and I think I probably won't.

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Husband's Secret- Liane Moriarty

 
The Husband's Secret has been one of the runaway success stories of the summer.  Being chosen as a Richard and Judy Bookclub choice gave the book plenty of exposure and the attractive cover seemed to be staring out at me from every bookshelf in bookshops, supermarkets and libraries.

I am part of a small book group and The Husband's Secret was our October choice.  I had been planning to read it anyway, and when I won a copy from the lovely Anne at the Random Things Through my Letterbox blog I took it as fate!

The book explores curiosity, guilt and secrets.  When Cecelia finds an letter from her husband in a box of paperwork, addressed to her with the instruction 'to be opened only in the event of my death', she is torn.  Should she open it when her husband is very much alive?  Or should she put it back and pretend it has never been found? 

The Husband's Secret very cleverly entwines the stories of Australian families within a small town and the characters are well crafted and believable.  It is very much a book focusing on relationships and how the actions of one person can impact on a wider circle.  I was definitely gripped by the plot and wanted to keep turning the pages to discover how the story would end.  I can't say too much more without giving away the whole story, and that would definitely spoil it for any of you that haven't read it, but I will say this- buy this book!

Our book group described it as 'intriguing' and 'thought-provoking', giving it an average rating of 8/10 . All six members said they would recommend it to a friend.

The Husband's Secret is out now, published by Penguin.

8/10

Friday, 18 October 2013

Incoming #7

Review copies received this week...
 
Bought this week...
 
 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

My Top 10 Books (Guesting on Erin's Choice)

When I was asked to write something for Erin's blog I was thrilled, it is always a delight to be allowed to be part of someone's blog as I know how protective I am over mine!  When Erin told me that she was wanting my top 10 books though I thought 'oh heck' and had to decide which of my darlings to kill.

My top 10 is available to view now on her website, here.

Meet the Author event- Jack Sheffield (Off the Shelf Festival)

I am very fortunate to live in a city that has an annual 'festival of words'.  The Off The Shelf festival happens every autumn in Sheffield, and I have been fortunate enough to hear readings from and meet some fabulous authors over the years. 

On Monday night I (along with around 30 others) went to Sheffield Central Library to hear Jack Sheffield talking about his Teacher books. If you aren't familiar with them, they are humorous, nostalgic tales of a headmaster in 1970s/1980s Yorkshire.  Jack was a headteacher at a small school in North Yorkshire himself, and if you work in a school you'll definitely empathise with some of the tales!

So...what did Jack share with the bibliophiles?

- he loves libraries, describing them as 'the cornerstone of cultural society' and a 'wonderland of books'.

- his first book wasn't published until he was 61.  He had recorded stories from his own days as headteacher, and his last promise to his Mother was that he would write them down and try and get them published.  He says his work is 50% biographical, 50% fictional.

-Although his Mum placed a lot of importance on education, he grew up in a house without books.

- Jack reads a book a week, and has done since he first joined the library as a child.

- Jack spoke about the importance of a good teacher, naming one that inspired him.  'You never forget how a teacher makes you feel' says Jack, and told us how he was given a copy of White Fang which made him want to write.  His teacher told him that in order to write, first you must read.

He also read sections from his books, including my favourite chapter about a dance lesson at a school for children with physical disabilities (if you have read it, I am sure you'll know what I am talking about!)

Jack Sheffield is extremely likeable, very down to earth and an inspiration to all writers and teachers.  I can't wait to get stuck into reading his new book Silent Night (out 5th December, published by Transworld)-watch this space for a review!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Every Eye- Isobel English


Beautifully written in a poetic style, Every Eye is a rich book full of imagery.  However, I found it hard to read in long stints as it was quite verbose- a lot was packed into a short book. 

Every Eye is the overlap of two stories, Hatty on her Ibiza honeymoon with her younger husband and a story from the past.  As Hatty looks back on her life and reflects, the reader learns how the past is affecting her in the present day.

I'm not entirely sure that I understood it properly, and would benefit from another reading to fully understand the complexities of the plot.  However, I didn't warm to Hatty or her husband Stephen throughout the book and am not sure whether I will ever reread Every Eye.  I will seek out further writings by Isobel English though, as reading her work reminded me of the first overpowering hit when gulping mulled wine- powerful, with a long lasting impact.  Her writing made me want to read chunks out loud, to taste them in my mouth.

This wouldn't be a Persephone book I would particularly recommend, but the writing style was eloquent and impactive.

6/10 (Beautiful tone of writing, but marks lost as the plot had me confused).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Secrets and Rain - Cally Taylor

 
Secrets and Rain is a collection of stories written by Cally Taylor, author of Heaven Can Wait and Home for Christmas.  I sometimes find short stories frustrating as there are obviously limits to how much you can learn about characters and how much empathy you can have for them when reading just a few thousand words.  However, Cally Taylor has managed to write beautiful short stories that capture the quirks and emotions of the characters within them.  Dealing with the search for love, bereavement and infertility amongst other subjects that women will relate to, Secrets and Rain is a thought-provoking collection that will make you appreciate what you have.
 
I read the stories over two sittings as I was enjoying them so much.  I could have devoured them all in one go but for pacing myself.  As stand alone stories they would also be perfect for reading in those quiet five minutes- coffee breaks, bus journeys, sat on the loo!  The stories are all well structured and I felt satisfied by the endings, something I don't always say when talking about this genre.
 
If you are a fan of short stories or women's fiction in general, I'd recommend Secrets and Rain.  Cally Taylor's novels have been popular and well read, but in my opinion her short stories are her triumph.
 
9/10

Friday, 11 October 2013

Let's Find Mimi (Around the World)- Katherine Lodge

 
Around the World is the latest in the Let's Find Mimi series.  The idea is similar to the Where's Wally? books.  Mimi and her family are on a world trip, visiting landmarks such as the pyramids, the Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China.  Readers are invited to find Mimi, along with items she has lost on her journey.  Children will enjoy searching the illustrations and delight when they are successful.  The only negative for me is that it might be slightly too challenging for some young children as the mice all look very similar in features (especially as they are small) and it is only their clothes that differ.
 
The illustrations make use of bold, vibrant colours guaranteed to catch the eye of even the most easily distracted of children.  The images are also a great starting point for conversations about the world, different cultures and environments.  It strikes a good balance between being education as well as entertaining.
 
I especially like how these type of books encourage reluctant readers, allowing them to engage in the pleasures of books without feeling pressurised into decoding words.  Best suited to children aged 4-7, this book has a lot to offer.
 
Around the World is out now, published by Hodder.
 
8/10
 
With thanks to Hodder for providing me with a review copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Incoming #6

Only review copies in this week- I am being very good!

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Sophie King Prize

Interested in trying your hand at writing romantic fiction?  What better way to get started than by writing a short story and entering *The Sophie King Prize*

This romantic fiction short story competition aims to discover a great new romance short story. The winning story will be chosen by best-selling novelist and short story writer Sophie King.

The competition is free to enter, and is open to both published and unpublished writers worldwide. The winning story will be recorded by a professional actor, and broadcast from a dedicated online audio player. The winner will also receive a pair of Silver-Plated Life Long Champagne Chalices and £50 (approx $79) gift voucher courtesy of www.handpickedcollection.com. One runner up will receive a £25 (approx $39) gift Handpicked Collection voucher.

The Sophie King Prize is now open for entries. Entrants must submit a short story of between 1,500 to 2,500 words with a romantic theme. The submissions deadline is January 10th 2014 and the winner will be announced on February 14th 2014.

To enter, go to: www.thesophiekingprize.com

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I was really keen to find out how Sophie started writing and what inspired her in the early days.  Here's what she said...

Nearly sixteen years ago, before any of my novels were published, I entered a short story competition run by The Lady magazine. I had never entered one before and  - even though I was earning my living as a journalist - I was beginning to despair about getting my fiction into print. Even so, I thought I'd have a go...

I took inspiration from a then-recent family holiday, when we arrived back at Gatwick and saw lots of drivers holding placards for arriving passengers. It made me wonder what would happen if a confused little old lady pretended she was one of those names. But how would she get away with it?

Then it came to me, while walking the dog later on in the week. What if a family were expecting a great-aunt from Australia, whom they'd never met? And supposing the old lady wasn't confused at all but quite calculating, in a good way. She is on a mission to help families get on with each other - and it so happened that this argumentative family needed help...The old lady also needed somewhere to stay!

She was indeed able to knit the warring personalities together and help everyone get on.The family loved her! But how was I going to end this?

Another walk and another idea. A week after the great-aunt left, the real one turned up, apologising for being delayed. At the same time, the family received a note from the imposter, apologising for her little trick. It ended with the family adopting the first 'great aunt, who was much nicer than the first!

I've gone into detail because I was later told that the combination of the twists, warmth, humour and unusual characters helped me to come second in the competition! Part of the prize was lunch with the judges, Rosamunde Pilcher, Arthur Hailey and the then-editor of The Lady, Arline Usden (as well as the winner).

It was a day I will never forget! Not only did I meet two famous authors but I also had my self-esteem boosted. During my subsequent search for an agent, I was then able to mention the prize.

Not long after that, I did indeed get taken on by an agent who secured me my first novel deal: The School Run, published by Hodder & Stoughton. My ninth novel (under my other pen name Janey Fraser) comes out next May and my latest Sophie King ebook, Second Time Lucky, is just out too.

Since then, I have always encouraged others to enter competitions. Even if you don't win, there's always next time. It also gives you a goal...

Good luck!

Sophie King x

You can find out more about Sophie at her website, www.sophieking.info .

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Eleanor and Park-Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park is a rare find for me- a book that I stumble across without reading any hype, any book reviews, seeing any posters for it.  A book that is sat there on a shelf just willing me to pick it up.  I read so many book blogs and follow lots of publishers, publicists and authors on twitter, and most books I read are recommendations I get from these fellow bibliophiles.



I was drawn to Eleanor and Park by the cover, simplistic and classical in style, yet with a contemporary feel.  The strapline 'You never forget your first love...' appealed to me and for some reason I just knew that I'd love this book.

I did.

Eleanor, a flame haired misfit from a dysfunctional family, meets pop culture fanatic Park on the school bus.  Slowly but surely they progress from reluctantly sitting next to each other to that first frantic love that consumes you whole.  Very much focussed on emotions, this character-driven novel made my heart sing.  There isn't much of a plot, other than following the relationship of the two protagonists, but it doesn't need anything else.  Relationships started via mix tapes is very much something I can relate to, and the power of music is eloquently illustrated.  I found myself longing to be Eleanor, discovering The Smiths for the very first time, desperately racking my brain for the emotion I felt the first time I heard The Queen is Dead.  Rainbow Rowell managed to transport me back to being a teenager; acutely painful, yet with opportunity stretching out before you.

Eleanor and Park has a similar feel to The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I have previously reviewed here) or Love Story, an intense novel about love, lust and desire and how they can be affected by outside pressures of dictating family and judgmental peers.  I know that if Eleanor and Park had been released when I was a teenager I would have been shut in my room reading a well thumbed copy over and over.  This generation is so lucky to have such a wealth of high quality fiction that encapsulates the awkward adolescent years.  I'm really quite envious. 

The ending was the only disappointment for me.  After the soaring love portrayed throughout the novel I felt almost cheated and unfulfilled.  If there had been just one more chapter to fully 'finish things off' it would have been a nigh on perfect read for me.  However, I'd still highly recommend this book, particularly to 14+, although I am sure this will also have a large crossover following.  It is a heart-wrenching read and I know it will stay with me for a long, long time.

Eleanor and Park is out now, published by Orion.

9/10

Monday, 7 October 2013

In the book house...

I'm a guest blogger today on Kirsty's blog The Love of a Good Book.

I was asked to imagine that I was going into the Book House (like the Big Brother House!) with six characters and that I needed to vote them out.  You can see exactly how it panned out here...

Big Book House!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Am I a blogger or a frustrated author?

I am studying for an Open University degree and today is officially the first day of my new module.  My degree is in Humanities, and this new module is a creative writing course. 

I've been thinking a lot about writing and blogging since signing up for the course.  Are bloggers really all frustrated authors, desperate for our writing to be viewed by the masses? Is this why we dedicate ourselves to our blogs, sharing our thoughts, feelings and viewpoints with people on the other side of the world to ourselves, people we will never meet?

When I first started Books with Bunny I did it purely to record my reading habits. Every book I read was recorded anyway on book forums and I'd often write reviews of the books I'd especially enjoyed, so it made sense to start a blog and keep everything in one place.  Occasionally I will write a small piece relating to blogging or reading in a more general sense, but my blog still remains a dedicated book blog rather than covering wider themes and other aspects of my life in detail. 

So am I writing in the hope of being published?  I know lots of bloggers who are also writing their own novels, but I don't necessarily aspire to that.  I blog to voice my opinions.  I also strongly feel that what we bloggers say isn't any less valuable just because it's not in a book- there are plenty of books out there that aren't my cup of tea and equally, many bloggers that make me laugh, cry and feel.  My vision was to blog about books to promote the novels and authors that I enjoy.  I would absolutely love to be able to take this further and have my book reviews reaching a wider audience, and this is why I also post my reviews to goodreads and Amazon.  I'm also fortunate enough to have been asked to review for other websites and blogs, most notably Making Them Readers and Mojomums.  However, I can't deny that my ultimate dream would be to have a regular review slot in a magazine or newspaper, and I would love to have my name in a by-line.  Maybe I'm a frustrated reviewer.  Although I do review, so maybe I'm just frustrated?

So do I really want to be an author?  Probably not.  I have explored creative writing on and off since school, predominantly poetry, although will admit to also attempting a novel a couple of times before becoming completely overwhelmed by the process.  Blogging is an extension of journaling and diary keeping, admittedly in a public domain, but still a different world to creative writing.  Yes, it is a case of juggling words, seeing where they best fit to convey the meanings you are aiming to impress, but that is not the same as actually writing a piece of fiction from scratch. 

I admit it, I'm scared about this course.  And I'm overthinking.  Never a good sign.

I'm going back to reading...

Friday, 4 October 2013

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream- Abby Clements

Amelia Grey is a woman with a dream.  Desperate to escape city life, a poky flat and her stressful life as a secondary school teacher, Amelia persuades her husband Jack to bite the bullet and move to the countryside.  Buying a property in rural Kent in need of a complete facelift, Amelia and Jack soon realise that life in the country is not all roaring fires and Hunter willies.  Is village life everything they expected it to be?  Can they make the ramshackle, dated cottage a home? And will the previous owner ever be able to accept that Amelia and Jack are now living in 'her' house?

I was really excited to receive a review copy of Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream as Abby Clements has been one of the most talked about chicklit authors of the year.  I was told to expect a light, romantic read and a chatty, conversational writing style.  Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is a simple tale of friendship, big dreams and the strains that everyday life can put on a marriage.  I mostly liked Amelia and admired her determination to create a cosy, welcoming home, and could relate to impact of distance between her and her closest friends.  The subplot surrounding the previous owner of Jack and Amelia's house was interesting and I would have liked it to have been explored in a more detail.

The storyline was predictable at times, but I don't mind that in a chicklit book.  Infact there is something quite reassuring about expecting a plot to go a certain way when you are reading a book specifically as a gentle, easy read to wind down after a day at work.

If you like Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and Freya North, give Abby Clements a try.  A cosy read to warm your heart as you snuggle by your own fire. 

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is out now, published by Quercus.

7.5/10

With thanks to Abby's publicist for providing me with a review copy of this title in return for an honest review.

The Night Train- Sara Sheridan (Mirabelle Bevan short story)

I downloaded The Night Train as I have absolutely adored the two full length Mirabelle Bevan books.  I was thrilled to bits to realise I'd be able to get another dose of my favourite sleuth before the release of the next book early next year. 
 
 
I'm not always a fan of short stories and this really is very succinct- around the same length as a short chapter.  Whilst I had hoped it would be a bit longer because I am such a fan of the books, the writing was the usual fluid, perceptive style that I have come to expect from Sara Sheridan, and was a thought-provoking insight into the possibilities of a journey, especially a night train (going on a night train is on my Bucket List and I am even more keen to complete it now- I love the idea of the sun setting as you leave one place and rising as you arrive in another).
 
For fans of Mirabelle who are looking to get a peek at her softer side, The Night Train offers this opportunity. Brief, but wonderfully worded, I would love Sara Sheridan to compile a collection of Mirabelle short stories with snippets of her encounters, as this is one woman who leaves a lasting impression on everyone she meets.  A charming glimpse into a fleeting moment.
 
7/10

Incoming #5

Bought-
 
 
And 3 Persephone Books (the covers don't show up well on here)-
The Fortnight in September- RC Sheriff
Miss Buncle Married- DE Stevenson
Few Eggs and No Oranges- Vere Hodgson
 

Reviews-
 
 
And the two new Persephone titles released later this month-
The Two Mrs Abbotts- DE Stevenson
 
 

Won-