Saturday 31 May 2014

Review ~ Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis by Jana Misho.

Title: Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis.
Author: Jana Misho.
Genre: Chick Lit.
Release Date: May 4, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

*Free download today on Amazon, May 31, 2014*

A girl in a loving relationship with Paris, with two best friends and a father figure she found in Pigalle, leads a perfectly designed life, in her Gare du Nord apartment, wonderful job and a lot of coffee. After some irritating, peace-wrecking things happen, her life is suddenly chaotic, and as if that’s not enough, she finds herself batting her eye-lashes at a man she didn’t even notice before. Right before she has a fight with him, and right after her best friend stops speaking to her for something that isn’t her fault. And then, there’s the risk of losing the apartment. And not knowing what to do next.

Escaping yourself is hard. As hard as being a person who squirms at cheesy romance stuff, at the same time living in the city people paint and write poetry about. The question is, are you supposed to keep running, or just be an adult about it?

I started reading Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis not really knowing what to expect but hoping for some fun chick-lit to brighten up my day. It was very witty from the start although it took me a little while to actually know what was going on. But once I got through that stage, I really loved it.

It possibly isn’t the most unpredictable plot in the world but it was such a fun book. It’s funny, light-hearted and very entertaining. The protagonist finds herself in a crisis, or what is considered a quarter-life crisis – she’s lost her job, found herself with feelings for the wrong person and is left with no sense of direction in her life. In what could be a straightforward book on finding yourself, the main character instead finds herself in some ridiculous situations, a lot self-inflicted, and she was the perfect character to read – humorous, easy to root for and laugh with (at).

There was a lot to like about this great chick-lit – the humour, the Paris setting, the likeable main character but what I loved the most were the supporting characters. Max, Edith, Cesar, and Hugo are just a few names in this fab cast. They were all really amusing characters and livened up the story a lot. They were all mad too but this just made the book more entertaining. I love reading books where you just wish you knew the characters in real life – the friends and not just the love interest – and this book was ideal for that reason. They were the kind of characters I just knew that if they were real life people, life would never get dull.

Coffee, Cigarettes and Crisis was a quick book which took me a day out in the sun to get through and I couldn’t have thought of many better ways to spend the day. It was light-hearted reading which had me laughing and smiling and cringing at times but it was just the kind of feel-good book I was hoping for.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon

Author Q&A ~ Pippa Croft.

Delighted to be hosting a Q&A with Pippa Croft today, author of the fabulous The Second Time I Saw You which I reviewed here last week.

The first time I fell in love, I was:

At Oxford! This may seem really lame (as Lauren might say) but I had a massive crush on a boy from my VI form but it wasn’t until I went away to university that we got together. He turned up one night very late at my room, having driven down from Manchester as a ‘surprise’. Well, I could hardly let him sleep out in the Quad, could I? And ... er... Reader, I eventually married him.

You might not know this about me, but I:

Am terrified of heights. You know, the whole sweaty palms/heart racing/compelled to jump off type of terror. I decided to go abseiling as research for my first novel and while I survived, I would never ever do it again. It didn’t help that the radio was playing ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ as we drove up to the rock face, but I did use the terror in the book...

When I’m feeling down, I find that I’m always cheered up by:

A phone call from my daughter, finding my husband has booked a surprise day off work or checking the surf conditions on (I can’t really surf but I do try very hard.)

The person whose opinion matters most to me is:

my husband. After that my agent, Broo or my mum or both.

If an unpublished writer asked me for advice, I’d tell them:

Read a lot, hone your writing skills, find supportive but honest writing buddies and never give up going for your dream.

The one thing I wish I’d known 10 years ago is:

that my first book would be made into a movie and my tenth would be published by Penguin.

The best advice I ever got was:

join the Romantic Novelists Association – the professional association for romance writers. From them I learned how publishing really works, how to develop my writing skills and how to drink a bar dry.

You went to Oxford, does this story have any personal context?

Absolutely! My time there was one of the most exciting, fun and terrifying periods of my life: it was a massive culture shock at first and has influenced the way I think ever since. I learned to stand on my own two feet and have the confidence to be my own person, like every student does. Many of the friendships I made, have lasted to this day and some of the people I knew have helped me with the book. I’m also very proud that my daughter chose to go to the same college as me and in fact, we’re the first mum and daughter ever to do that.

What would you like for readers to take away from the book?

The thrill of riding a rollercoaster of emotion, the feeling that they’ve actually been on the whole sexy, maddening, exciting journey with Lauren and Alexander. Plus a desperate need to read the next book in the series.... I’m not asking much, am I?

What was that first moment that you realized you wanted to become a writer?

I can tell you exactly. I was watching a BBC period drama called North & South in November 2004. Although I’d always worked as a journalist and copywriter, I’d shied away from writing fiction. I was worried that I’d be rubbish at it and I didn’t have any inspiration. North & South suddenly – and out of blue – inspired me to have a go at writing some fan fiction, which was quite a new thing back then. I shared my story on an Internet forum and haven’t stopped writing since. In my role as a journalist, I also actually got to do a phone interview with the sexy star of North & South, Richard Armitage.

Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I keep office hours - ish. Normally I try to get up quite early and get a good chunk of writing done while I’m still in my pyjamas. I then carry on working until lunch. I’m not very brain-lively in the afternoon so I try to get out of the house to go to the gym, or for a swim or shopping. Then I do more work, or editing or marketing in the evening. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook on and off all day.

What authors, books, or ideas have influenced you most?

Jane Austen, definitely, I love the banter and sexual chemistry in Pride & Prejudice and the emotional subtlety of Persuasion. However, I also like thrillers and crime. Ian Rankin is my favourite crime author and read a lot of non-fiction. As research for The First Time We Met, I read The Junior Officers Reading Club by Patrick Hennessy which I keep picking up now and dipping into.

Friday 30 May 2014

Review ~ The Donahues by Ayelen Barrios Ruiz Pagano.

Title: The Donahues.
Author: Ayelen Barrios Ruiz Pagano.
Publisher: Safkhet Publishing.
Genre: Young Adult.
Release Date: February 14, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

On Emily's sixteenth birthday, she discovers a letter that tells of her long lost father, who not only wants her back but is also rich. Tensions between her and her mother were never very good, and with this letter, they escalate to where Emily moves out for the summer to her new/old family - at their opulent summer home.

Find out how Emily wrestles with her feelings, finds love and balances her two families in "The Donahues".

The Donahues is the story of Emily, who discovers a letter on her sixteenth birthday telling her she has a whole new family out there. As she meets her ‘new’ father and the rest of the Donahues, conflict ensues as Emily goes on the journey to finding where she really belongs.

I had mixed feelings on this book. I did love the actual plot. It was fast paced and entertaining, bringing up strong Young Adult themes of love, fitting in and relationships. I thought Ayelen Barrios did a great job at writing characters that are easy to relate to. Things like Emily plotting with her friend Marcia on how to get the school heartthrob Jason to notice her is something I’m sure a lot of teenage girls can picture themselves doing (yep, I’ve been there).

Also, Emily’s relationship with her brother is typical to a lot of sibling relationships in that she teases him a lot about his life and his different girlfriend every month yet deep down, you can see that they love and want the best for each other.

My only issue with this book was that I could not find any likeable characters. I did try and there were some I didn’t mind too much, like Tim and Ben, but most of the time I struggled to connect with any of them. Emily seemed to use people just to get her own way (especially Stephen) and I found her irritatingly naïve and quick to turn her back on her family. The Donahues themselves seemed too stuck up and Stephen was such a pushover. No matter how good a plot is, I just can’t love it if I don’t love any of the characters.

With that being said, I did think The Donahues was a really promising debut novel. It was an interesting look at a young girl, thrown a curveball and still trying to take charge of her life. The romance was understated which worked well, not taking away from the main plot but keeping relationships at the forefront in what was a quick, enjoyable read.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon

1000 Twitter Followers Giveaway!

So on Monday my @ReviewedTheBook Twitter account reached 1000 followers which is amazing! Seriously, I cringe at my own tweets so I dread to think what everybody else thinks of them. But I would like to thank you all for your support so have put together this international giveaway!

Please read all the rules below because I couldn't fit them all in the Rafflecopter and they confuse me so possibly everyone else too.

Terms and Conditions:

First prize: One book a month for six months (winner's choice).
Second prize: Two books of winner's choice.
Third prize: One book of winner's choice.
UK winner picks from Amazon, INT winner picks from The Book Depository.
Giveaway open to residents from any country The Book Depository ships to.
You have to follow me on Twitter to enter and all other entries are optional (but give you a better chance of winning).
All fake entries will be removed - yes I do check and remove because it's unfair to everyone else.
Giveaway ends June 18.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 29 May 2014

Review ~ Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff.

Title: Ghostwritten.
Author: Isabel Wolff.
Publisher: Harper Collins.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Release Date: March 27, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets.

Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own.

Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell.

But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?

Gripping, poignant and beautifully researched, Ghostwritten is a story of survival and love, of memory and hope.

Ghostwritten is a stunner of a book. Nothing like any book I’ve read before, I thought the setting and characters were beautifully written and this made it a mesmerising novel. Ghostwritten is haunting, moving and a wonderful read.

Jenni is a ghostwriter, with a new commission to work on the memoirs of Klara. Klara is a strong woman, one who has survived the Japanese internment camps during World War Two. Jenni was unaware at the time that Klara’s life would take her to Polvarth – a place she never wanted to return to, but what unfolds is a beautiful journey with the intrigue of an untold secret and the emotion from Klara’s heart-wrenching tales.

Jenni and Klara are two of the strongest characters I’ve ever read. Klara in particular is one who will stay with me for a long time. Her story was very emotional and did move me to tears a few times. She’s also a character who was so brave and told such a powerful story, I felt like I could actually learn from her experiences and take strength from her. Jenni’s story was more mysterious and I was rooting for her to be impacted by Klara’s story, to be able to open up and overcome the obstacles she needed to in order to live her life.

This is a hard review to write because really you just need to follow the touching, fascinating story so you can get it and see the beauty in the author’s writing. The pace allows the reader to immerse themselves in the extraordinarily poignant story perfectly. There was never a moment for me that I didn’t feel something, that I felt it was uninteresting or I couldn’t take anything from the novel. Ghostwritten is truly beautiful and unforgettable.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Day ~ An American Girl in Italy by Aubrie Dionne.

Title: An American Girl in Italy.
Author: Aubrie Dionne.
Publisher: HarperImpulse.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Release Date: May 29, 2014.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon | B&N

An Italian paradise is the last thing she wants... but the one thing she needs!

Surely any girl would kill for the chance to tour Italy’s most famous cities for the summer? To experience the warmth of the Tuscan sun, the culinary delights of the pizzerias and caffés and to stroll along the cobbled streets of the City of Love itself...
Any girl apart from ambitious oboist Carly Davis that is! For her, the Easthampton Civic Symphony’s latest European tour is one massive inconvenience. She can’t even put her smartphone down long enough to snap a picture of the Coliseum.
Only, there’s one Italian attraction that Carly hadn’t quite expected to be a part of the tourist route...

Tour guide Michelangelo is as dark and delicious as Carly’s morning espresso. And when she needs a few lessons in the language of love to land her an important gig, he’s a more than capable tutor.

But with her promising career back in Boston, can Carly really afford to lose her heart in Italy?

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews. She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happily Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference. Her books are published by Entangled Publishing, Harper Impulse, Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Inkspell Publishing, and Lyrical Press. When she's not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.

Goodreads | Twitter | Blog

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Review ~ The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull.

Title: The Visitors.
Author: Rebecca Mascull.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Release Date: January 2, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Imagine if you couldn't see
couldn't hear
couldn't speak...
Then one day somebody took your hand and opened up the world to you.

Adeliza Golding is a deafblind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father's hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, who she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.

Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie's beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.

Rebecca Mascull's first novel is the tale of a wonderful friendship, but it is also a thrilling adventure, a heartbreaking love story and a compelling ghost story.

I don’t know if it’s possible to look at the cover and the synopsis for The Visitors and not think this book is going to be something special. Actually, Rebecca Mascull made her debut novel so much more than that. With stunning prose, The Visitors is a beautiful, moving story which I absolutely loved.

Set in Victorian times, we have the wonderful protagonist of Adeliza, who blind and deaf from a young age, wants nothing more than to be allowed to experience the world she lives in and not let anything hold her back. Liza is a brave character to write but we’re brought her story in such a touching, magnificent way. I never once felt like I was being told everything that was happening or told how I should feel about Liza’s story – instead, I was transported on this journey with Liza and I grew to love her character like I would someone I knew in real life.

There were a lot of themes in this book other than the obvious – from friendship to romance and the supernatural involvement of the Visitors. There’s always the chance in packed books that the overall story will be overpowered but that wasn’t the case here. Rebecca combined everything together perfectly and each added to the story rather than distracted from it.

As this book spans over twenty years, I liked how the format of the book switched a little – from the poignant tale of Liza’s youth to the letters from Caleb. Whilst Liza is a lovely character, easy to support and root for, I equally loved her friend Lottie. Seeing their bond and relationship develop was easily my favourite part of this book. The author wrote their friendship so eloquently.

I can’t claim to be a massive lover of historical fiction because it’s not a genre I’ve read too often before The Visitors. I have since reading this book bought a selection of historical novels although I’m not so sure any will live up to this fantastic book. If you can find a new favourite author from just one book, I’m pretty sure Rebecca Mascull is there with this beautiful novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Review ~ Going Back by Rachael English.

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Rachael English's Going Back!

Yesterday, the author was talking books over at The Love of a Good Book and don't forget to visit Paperbacks & Protagonists tomorrow for the next stop on the tour.

Title: Going Back.
Author: Rachael English.
Publisher: Orion.
Genre: Romance.
Publication Date: May 22, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

In the summer of 1988, Elizabeth Kelly and her friends leave recession-hit Ireland for a summer of adventure and opportunity in Boston. The next four months change all of them, especially Elizabeth. Quiet and dutiful at home, she surprises herself and everyone else by falling for Danny Esposito, a restless charmer with a troublesome family.

More than twenty years later with opportunities in Ireland scarce once again, a new generation looks to America, awakening memories of a golden summer for their parents. When a crisis occurs, Elizabeth returns to Boston where she is drawn back into the life she once lived. But will she be able to reconcile the dreams of her twenty-year-old self with the woman she has become?

Going Back is a story of family, friendships and love, of difficult decisions and lifelong consequences.

Going Back is the tale of Elizabeth, who having spent a short while in Boston with her college friends when she was younger, returns back there several years later to be faced with a certain charmer from her past. This was a nostalgic, romantic novel – an impressive debut from Rachael English.

Whilst the prologue instantly drew me in, the actual story felt more of a slowburner. As we go back in time to learn about Elizabeth’s time in Boston - her issues with Orla, her growing feelings for Danny – it took me a little while to get into the story and to connect with the characters.

When the plot became more captivating, there was a lot to like about Going Back. I loved seeing Elizabeth’s character grow and change to become less reserved and more outgoing. I enjoyed the humour laced into the plot and the Irish traits used in Boston – the language and the pronunciation from Elizabeth’s side was so different to the US way which brought a wonderful, cultural feel to the book. As the book went on, I was falling for Elizabeth and Danny’s relationship as much as they were falling for each other and then the book moved forward in time.

I loved the concept of Going Back. The second part of the book was different to the first in that whilst romance was still a part of it, it was more grown up rather than the whirlwind, drama filled romance from the younger years. I loved seeing how all the characters were placed years on and how life had changed.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Going Back but the author has written an enchanting outlook on how life changes over the years and things don’t always turn out how you expect them to. It’s a book that makes you think about your own life and dreams – an enjoyable, thought-provoking novel perfect for a night-in reading and something to discuss with your friends and family.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...