Tuesday 30 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #24 ~ Everything Changes But You and A Beginner's Guide to Salad by Jennifer Joyce.

Thank you to the brilliant Jennifer Joyce for offering to giveaway copies of her ebooks Everything Changes But You and A Beginner's Guide to Salad :)

Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?

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Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic.

Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds.

When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted.

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home.

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Monday 29 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #23 ~ £5 Amazon voucher.

On to the final ten giveaways for my blogiversary celebrations now and I hope you've all liked them so far! This is the final £5 Amazon voucher giveaway but there will be another bigger Amazon giveaway on the 8th of October :)

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Review ~ Everything Changes But You by Jennifer Joyce.

Title: Everything Changes But You.
Author: Jennifer Joyce.
Genre: Chick Lit.
Publication Date: September 16, 2014.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic.

Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds.

When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted.

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home.

I love films like Freaky Friday and 13 Going on 30 and so the concept of Everything Changes But You really appealed to me. Add to that the beautiful cover to this book and I was sold before I’d even picked it up. What followed was a story I absolutely loved. Jennifer’s writing style was refreshing to read – the book was fast-paced but well-developed too, with a mixture of fun, wit and humour with a heart-warming and emotional feel to it too. I was so heavily invested in Ally’s story that it felt way more tense than most romantic comedies do – purely because I was so eager for this book to turn out the way I hoped that I could not stop reading until I got to the end. Everything Changes But You was brilliant.

This book is the perfect representation of be careful what you wish for. Ally is dreading her approaching thirtieth birthday. Her husband Gavin is wanting them to start a family too and all this just makes Ally feel so old. Why does life have to slow down when you’re thirty? Why can’t she be more like her annoyingly beautiful and equally irritating work colleague Kelly? To be young and carefree… When Ally then wakes up the next morning, she soon discovers that Ally is actually no more. She’s Alana – a party animal who thinks nothing of stepping over her family and friends, although she doesn’t seem to have many of them left… and where’s Gavin? I can’t spoil the plot, even though I feel like I could chat about this book all day. But Everything Changes But You was great fun to read and packed with entertaining characters that brought the story to life.

I really connected with Ally’s character straight away. Everyone at some time has hoped their life could be working out differently and it was so easy to warm to her when everything spiralled out of control. I was rooting for her all the way and I just wanted to dive into the story and bring Gavin back to her and make everything perfect – though that would have probably have been more for my benefit than hers because I was so desperate for a happy ending, even though I knew not to bank on that given some of the unpredictability found in this book. Other characters I really liked were Francine and Jason but actually Kelly was the character that stood out for me the most, especially when Ally had become Alana. Kelly was interesting and her life felt more complex than it had looked originally. I was fascinated by the way her story developed and taken by surprise too but I did love how although both their lives had changed, Jennifer didn’t write it in an over-exaggerated style where they were two completely different people, hard to believe and a little cringeworthy to read.

Everything Changes But You is a difficult book to review because there’s so much you can’t say about it without spoiling the plot. So all I can really do is go on about how much I adored this book because I really, really did. It has everything I love to see in a romantic comedy but the writing was fresh and vivid and didn’t leave me able to guess what was going to happen on the next page. I loved the ending – it completely embodied everything I loved about Jennifer’s writing throughout the whole book. Her charming writing and the way this book always made me smile, even when I was anxiously screaming on the inside (maybe out loud too…) for everything to work out the way I wanted it to, has ensured Jennifer has a massive fan in me now, though maybe I’ll be a little more careful when making a birthday wish this year…

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. When she isn’t disappearing into her own fictional worlds, she can be found waffling on her blog and reviewing books for Novelicious’ Alternative Thursday. Everything Changes But You is her second novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Sunday 28 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #22 ~ Bundle of Jaimie Admans ebooks.

Thank you to the brilliant Jaimie Admans for donating ebook copies of all five of her books for my blog birthday :) One winner will receive copies of Afterlife Academy, Kismetology, North Pole Reform School, Not Pretty Enough and Creepy Christmas!

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Review ~ This Summer by Katlyn Duncan.

Title: This Summer.
Author: Katlyn Duncan.
Publisher: Carina UK.
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary Romance.
Publication Date: July 9, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Before college, before responsibilities, Hadley Beauman and best friend Lily are determined to have a summer to remember. There will be all the usual dramas - ex-boyfriends who don't seem to know what 'ex' means, pesky younger brothers with unrequited crushes, but what Hadley didn't anticipate was the out-of-the-blue return of the seriously hot boy-next-door, Will Carson. The boy who broke her heart when he skipped town two years ago.

Will may have shot up a foot and filled out (oh yes), but inside he carries the weight of guilt - for leaving, for coming back... Now he's just passing through to tie up loose ends but it's clear the old chemistry still crackles between him and Hadley. Trouble is, it's built on two years of lies...

This summer might just be the best time of their lives, but is Hadley ready for everything to change - again?

The cover of This Summer really appealed to me – it gives off a sweet, romantic vibe and I do love those kind of young adult summer romance stories – ones which are typically just cute and even though you can probably guess where they’re going before they’ve started, you don’t mind because it just makes you smile. I loved the summer camp setting here – it was a setting I’ve not really read too many times before and it made this book feel like something refreshingly new (to me, at least). I thought the portrayal of summer camp was built really well with all the different groups and roles and I could really picture and buy into the location in this book.

With the plot, I was a little confused at the beginning. We learn that Hadley has split up with her boyfriend Carter and I liked that that had happened before the book begins because from the plot we know Will is the main love interest, so this way I assumed no time is wasted with the long break-up and then the countless attempts to get back together. But then as soon as Hadley arrives at summer camp, and discovers Carter will no longer be working with her there, she seemed to completely dramatically blame Carter for ruining everything. I didn’t really understand that considering I would have thought it was fairly reasonable for Carter to not want to spend all summer camp with his ex when she doesn’t want him back. So the beginning of this novel was a little slow and it took me a while to warm to Hadley’s character. I did find her a lot more bearable as the book went on although it was Will’s character that I enjoyed the most.

This Summer is told in alternative chapters between Hadley and Will. I liked that this gave us a better understanding of Will, especially considering there was a lot Hadley had to find out and if I hadn’t have found out anything from Will’s perspective beforehand, it would have been hard to really connect with him. His story was really interesting and I was fascinated with seeing things unveil and learning the impact it all would have. I would love to have seen it developed further because it was all done at a very fast pace. The supporting characters in the novel could also have been built upon further – I enjoyed reading Hadley’s relationships with her best friend Lily and her brother Ethan and would have liked to have seen more. The novel was short but not that short so I felt like the author had room for a little more character development.

The plot was made up of all the components I love reading in teen books – secrets, drama, romance and friendship. It felt like a believable portrayal of that stage in a young person’s life – full of mistakes and parties and a journey to finding yourself and finding happiness. I could really buy into this. My only problem with the plot was how quick it all was. In particular, there was one twist which I didn’t see coming but I also had no real understanding of the reason behind it and it felt like it was over too quickly for it to ever make much sense to me. Parts of it did just feel a little too rushed but as This Summer approached the end, I grew to like it a lot more. The ending was perfectly fitting and satisfying and I loved the style in which this book finished.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Saturday 27 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #21 ~ Pride and Prejudice cupcake toppers and postcards.

Thank you to Carmel Harrington for donating this brilliant prize for my blogiversary giveaway. One international winner will receive Pride and Prejudice postcards and cupcake toppers. Anyone who's read Carmel's latest book The Life You Left will understand the cupcake link - and if you haven't read it then you really should anyway because it's one of the best books I've read this year!

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Friday 26 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #20 ~ £10 Amazon voucher.

For the twentieth giveaway in my blogiversary, I have another £10 Amazon voucher to give away to one international winner :)

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Review ~ The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees by Sophie Hart.

Title: The Beginner's Guide to the Birds and the Bees.
Author: Sophie Hart.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: September 19, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Let’s talk about sex… would you share your bedroom secrets if it meant saving your marriage?

A refreshingly open and uplifting romantic comedy about friendship, love and sex. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone in order to give a relationship a good dose of TLC…

Sex therapist Annie Hall helps couples put the fizz back into their relationships. It’s a shame her own love life is non-existent. When Jamie who works next door catches her eye, she can’t ignore the spark of chemistry.

Most men would jump at the chance to skive off work for an afternoon quickie with their gorgeous wife but Nick knows Julia is after only one thing – a baby. Sex shouldn’t be a chore. Can Annie help Julia see that?

Newly engaged Zoe and Simon can’t keep their hands off each other. They’ve decided to take a vow of celibacy until their wedding night. Will Annie help them stick to it?

Roy and Linda have been married for over thirty years but she’s more interested in the family business than getting intimate with him. Can Annie convince Linda to rediscover her passion for Roy after all this time?

While Annie begins to work her magic with the three couples, she soon finds herself falling for Jamie. But she’s been hurt before – will he be different? It’s time for Annie to take some of her own advice and learn a few life lessons of her own…

The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees was a charming, feel-good novel and one which stood out to me as being as little different to a lot of women’s fiction books around at the moment. It was packed full of friendship, romance and was simply a really warm read – the equivalent of an uplifting day spent catching up with old friends with lots of laughs and smiles.

Annie Hall is a sex therapist, which unlike what the name might suggest, doesn’t mean she goes around showing couples how things work in the bedroom department… Rather, Annie was just a caring, very likeable character, hopeful and eager to help her clients on the way to their own happy endings. Annie is long-term single after a bad relationship and so on surface is maybe not the best person to help couples get their relationships back on track, but she was so positive and full of patience and advice, she felt like the perfect person to turn to. Early on, we’re introduced to the three latest couples who are enlisting Annie’s help – Nick and Julia, Ray and Linda and Zoe and Simon. Even though we’re then brought four individual stories throughout the book, it was never hard to keep up. Sophie effortlessly switched between each couple’s stories, and Annie’s story, and then when they did combine, the novel hit its heart-warming best.

I loved each individual couple and how different they all were – whether that was due to age, ambition or personalities, the book had a great mix of characters and seeing them all connect with each other at the group therapy sessions was really interesting to read. Nick and Julia have been trying unsuccessfully for a baby – and I couldn’t help but feel for Nick at the beginning and his frustration with Julia only seeing him as an object to help her conceive. Although as the book went on, I did grow to understand Julia a lot more and I liked seeing her friendships grow and help her as a person. Ray and Linda were a couple in their late fifties, missing the intimacy and closeness in their relationship and struggling to spend much time with each other too. I adored Ray – he was so obviously in love with Linda and I just wanted them to put time aside to see each other and re-connect and live out the rest of their lives happy. This book did turn me hopelessly optimistic and soppy, I’ll admit. Zoe and Simon wanted a sex therapist for a very different reason – in their twenties and completely in love (and all over each other too), they took a vow of celibacy until their wedding night and were eager to make that night the most special of all… Zoe and Simon were my favourite couple – they were just so happy and in love, it was endearing to read.

What I loved the most about each couple here, and Annie’s motives towards them too, was that it felt impossible to not want the best for them all. Annie definitely turned me into a true fan of happy-endings and that was all I wanted for the outcome of this book. I wanted Annie to get her happy ever after too and once she started to see the lovely Jamie in a different light, I was fascinated with how things might work out.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees was a really easy to read, pleasant story – I can’t fault it for that. I loved the quotes which started off each chapter, I thought they added a special touch to the novel and set the tone for what was to follow. However, I did think this book was missing a little sparkle and a little something to really bring it to life and make it shine. I find it difficult to review in that aspect because I really can’t find anything to criticise but I had expected to love it even more than I did. But even saying that, I really did adore Sophie’s writing style. It was so full of heart and the stories in this book weren’t forced or over-the-top – it all felt natural and the manner of the book was just like chatting to your friends with a bit of gossip and lots of fun and more tender moments too. The Beginner’s Guide to the Birds and the Bees will ultimately put a smile on your face and leave it there for the remainder of the day, so I would definitely recommend it for all chick-lit fans.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

Thursday 25 September 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway #19 ~ The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson.

I love The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson - review to come soon - and I have a spare copy to giveaway, internationally. :)

At her beloved husband's funeral, Carla Pride discovers that Martin never divorced his first wife and has been living a double life with her. And his other wife, Julie Pride, is determined to take everything from Carla - her home, her money, and her memories.

When Will Linton's business goes bust he at least thinks that with the support of his trophy wife Nicole he will rise to the top again. But Nicole isn't going to stick around with 'a loser' and Will finds himself at rock bottom.

Molly Jones is being bullied into going into a retirement home by her 'concerned' daughter-in-law Sherry and son Gram. Then the love of Molly's life walks in through her door - a man who broke Molly's heart into little pieces many years ago. But he says he is dying and wants to spend the time he has left with her.

All people in need of a little love and compassion which they find by chance in the stationery and teashop on the corner run by the ever-cheerful Leni, a woman that site developer Shaun McCarthy finds annoying beyond annoying for her ability to remain unrealistically upbeat about everything.

But is the world of Leni Merryman as full of rainbows and sparkles as everyone thinks? Or is her smile papering over many cracks in her heart that will soon be shattered unwittingly by her new friends?

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Review ~ Zenith by Dirk Strasser.

Title: Zenith (Ascension #1).
Author: Dirk Strasser.
Genre: Fantasy.
Publication Date: November 1, 2013.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Can you see the story breathing?


A mountain so great it takes a year to travel from base to summit
A sun so powerful it drives you into madness if you look at it
An ascent so vital it determines the fate of the world
A summit so precious it holds the key to the divine

The world of the great Mountain is unstable. Giant pillars erupt from the surface and yawning chasms form unpredictably underfoot. Since the Maelir first stood on its slopes in the distant past, they have sought to still its anger and control its power. Each year, twin brothers are chosen to make a perilous journey to the summit. If they survive they will be witness to Zenith, and the secrets will be revealed to them.

When Atreu and Teyth embark on their Ascent, their Talismans lead them onto conflicting paths that will ultimately set brother against brother. And this time the Ascent itself is in peril as unknown forces that have long craved the power of Zenith will stop at nothing to make it their own even if it means destroying the very thing that sustains all life the Mountain itself.

Zenith had a fascinating plot which completely drew my attention to the novel straight away. I love fantasy books which take the main character, and then the reader along with it, on a journey and this book is about Atreu and Teyth, twin brothers on their ascent up the Mountain. The world building in Zenith is fantastic – there’s a lot of vivid, strong detail which describes the setting perfectly and as the journey continues, though we’re introduced to a lot of new characters, it’s the world which captures the imagination and brings across the thing I love the most about good fantasy novels – a setting you just want to explore for yourself.

The novel starts off intriguing, with a beginning which really set my mind working and it felt unpredictable – I had no idea where this book was going to be taken and the mystery kept me reading. It was quite a slow-paced book and whereas at times this really added to the tension and brought edginess to the plot, at others I found it a bit tough-going. Towards the middle of the book, my attention was waning and there were moments that brought me back into it but I did think the journey around the half-way point, although it wasn’t boring, paled in comparison to earlier on in the book. I wanted it to keep me gripped the whole way through and it didn’t do that. As Zenith approached its ending, I liked it a lot more. It became much more compelling and interesting. I was sold. But I feel like the author showed so much skill and writing ability in some sections of the book that it was a little disappointing that my interest kept being lost.

Though I expected Atreu and Teyth to go on different journeys throughout Zenith, I was surprised how much this book focused on Atreu. The fact that they were twins felt quite built up early on so then to see it lacking a little was unexpected for me. The journey itself was about learning, and continually progressing forward. It was about trust and conflict and this aspect I found really captivating. There’s a lot of information built in to this book and rather than it feel like an overload, I found it easy to take in and that it added a lot to the journey. I did feel like if the author had worked on developing the characters as much as the actual world they’re in, I would have liked this novel a lot more. From the main characters to the small-part characters that were involved and then disappeared far too quickly, I generally felt disconnected to them and I wanted to learn more about them. Ultimately, Zenith was an absorbing concept and a satisfying read, cleverly put together and it’s definitely left me interested in the next book of the series. I just hope it feels like a more balanced and complete novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon

Dirk Strasser has won multiple Australian Publisher Association Awards and a Ditmar for Best Professional Achievement. His mythic fantasy series, The Books of Ascension, has been republished by Macmillan Momentum, this time including Eclipse – The Lost Book of Ascension for the first time in English. His novels and short stories have been translated into a number of languages. He also founded the Aurealis Awards and has co-edited and co-published Aurealis magazine for over twenty years.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

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