Sunday, 18 December 2016

'A Christmas Surprise' by Emily Murdoch (Review as part of the Writerly Yours Christmas Readathon)

About the Book - in my own words

'A Christmas Surprise' is a wonderfully written Regency romance novella about Lady Audrey who has now turned 18 years of age, the perfect age to host a society Christmas Ball to find a husband. Lady Audrey has never met any man that has made her consider marriage in her whole 18 years. How can she possibly find a husband at such an event and why would she when she is perfectly happy in her life.

Lady Audrey's loving father describes the account of Lady Audrey's first Christmas Ball, when her mother was still living. Lord Robert describes how magical the event was with her mother and how well the idea of a masked ball went down well with the guests. This particular detail intrigues Lady Audrey and she thinks what a wonderful way to 'come out' as a new woman of society, so there it was, Lady Audrey was going to plan her very own masked Christmas Ball at Scotchmore Castle. 
At the Christmas Ball, a tall dark and handsome stranger asks Lady Audrey to dance, to which she happily agrees....

Will Lady Audrey ever find out the stranger's true identity? Will she ever marry? 

Favourite Quote

“And that is not right. A man should not be measured by the worth in his pocket, but the worth in his heart.” 

The Review

If you have suffered a bit of a book slump recently and you're just wanting a quick read, lots of romance and a sprinkle of Christmas, then this is it!

This Christmas Romance Novella, the way in which it is written and the Regency era interested me right away and I couldn't wait to start reading.

When I started reading the first chapter, I did think 'Oh no, I really hope this isn't going to revolve around class and money too much' and luckily 90% of the book is Romance.

The romance story between Lady Audrey and Thomas is so beautiful, I only wish there was more of it, I could have read 100 pages more at least! but I am glad there wasn't much suspense around Lady Audrey finding out the stranger she danced with was Thomas. It would have driven me crazy! I think it would have been nice to read about how Lady Audrey and Thomas were when Audrey was younger and their lives leading up to the reveal, especially about how Thomas became the valet.

I did feel there was very little description of Christmas apart from the Ball being a 'Christmas Ball' and there was only really a subtle mention of Winter for my liking. This family comes with wealth so I think in reality, the Christmas decorations and food etc would have been more grand so a little bit more content around how the castle was decorated for Christmas would have added to the festive feeling - I am being picky here!

At the end when Thomas told Lady Audrey that she is the 'best Christmas Surprise he ever had' - I feel like the romance was deeper than that comment, even if he said 'This is the best Christmas I've ever had' I think it would have fitted better. That's just me being picky, again!

All in all, I love this novella so much. I want to read it all again and I will definitely be recommending this story to family and friends as we all love the Georgian/ Regency/ Victoria era when it comes to Romance!

4/5 Stars, thank you Emily!

S x

Actual Blurb

Every year for thirty years Lord Robert, the Viscount of Marchwood, throws a Christmas Ball. 

But this year the Marchwood Christmas Ball holds extra importance. 

His daughter, Lady Audrey, has just turned eighteen, and it is time for her to be introduced into society. 

It is Audrey’s first, best, and potentially only chance of securing a husband. 

Especially seeing as there are rumours that the Marchwood money is running dry. 

But headstrong Lady Audrey is not sure she wants a husband. 

Ever since her mother died she has been left to her own devices. 

Though she is very close to her father, it was often the servants she turned to for companionship, particularly Thomas, who, five years older than her, was always the person she depended on for conversation. 

She is not ready to leave everything she knows, and the thought of abandoning her father breaks her heart. 

She is determined that only someone truly special will take her away from her home. 

But with the ball centred around a masquerade theme, everyone is in disguise. 

And a handsome stranger threatens to steal Audrey’s heart. 

Could he hold the key to her heart? 

And when she unmasks him will it be a good, or bad, Christmas Surprise? 

‘A Christmas Surprise’ is a festive regency romance novella.

About the Author

Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. She has authored a medieval series and a regency novella series, and is currently working on several new projects. To stay updated on her writing and upcoming books, follow:

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

‘The Collector’ by John Fowles (Review)

‘The Collector’ by John Fowles

“I love making, I love doing. I love being to the full, I love everything which is not sitting and watching and copying and dead at heart”.

“I hate the uneducated and the ignorant. I hate the pompous and the phoney. I hate the jealous and the resentful. I hate the crabbed and mean and the petty. I hate all ordinary dull little people who aren’t ashamed of being dull and little”.

General plot: Frederick becomes obsessed with a girl (Miranda) who lives close to him in a town called Lewes. He follows her, watches her and he falls in love. Frederick kidnaps  Miranda so he can be with her forever.

This was a book chosen by my other half one day while we were out for searching for a good ol' book haul. He read it and raved so much about it that I had to see what all the fuss was about, I was a little bit sceptical as we don't usually enjoy the same books. Here is what I thought.

It’s not like I couldn’t put this book down which is what I always hope for in a new book but
I found that throughout the book, I began to feel so much sympathy for Miranda’s character, that this book almost brought me to tears a few times; however, this book goes against all the feelings you think you should feel towards Frederick, it's really surprising and made me question myself a number of times!

I would describe this book as 'disturbing’ because no one can ever imagine what it must feel like to be kidnapped but this book gives some insight into that and how one might feel in that situation. Boy, is it horrific and I found, sometimes hard to read.

I would also describe this book as 'thrilling’ because you can be on the second to last chapter and you still don’t know how this book will end and it just grips you.

I had my thoughts before I started this book, and let’s just say, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I would definitely recommend if you enjoy a twisted, eerie thriller. This has to be one of the best.

Rating - 8.2/10


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

‘Palo Alto’ by James Franco (Review)

‘Palo Alto’ by James Franco

A book about a group of teenagers struggling with how they feel, think and act towards certain aspects/ people in their lives. The last chapter was a separate short story all of it’s own.

Rating - 7/10

If I was to describe this book in 3 words: Dark, Modern, Indie and Captivating.

Favourite Quotation’s: 

“I guess in some people’s lives, no one tells you what to be, and so you be nothing”.

“What an adventure lies behind one quick turn of the steering wheel”.

A few reason’s I purchased this book:

I was hoping for another ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and this seemed like it would be similar, I have seen this book advertised in film a lot recently and I wanted a book that I wouldn’t be able to put down (I wasn’t disappointed).

From the first line of the first chapter, this book caught me,

“Ten years ago, my sophomore year in high school, I killed a woman on Halloween”

The deal was done, I was buying the book. With a first line like that, how can someone not be curious about how this happened, why this happened and everything in between?

The last chapter (the bonus story) was one of my favorite parts of the whole book. It was different to the rest of the content but still as modern and captivating.. just more naive and innocent.

I wasn’t expecting to be taken a back by how graphic this novel was at times but I think that’s what makes read more ‘modern’ and 'indie' and what separates it from similar books within these genre's.

The reason why this book didn’t receive a 10/10 for me was because I got a little lost with the characters sometimes. I wasn’t always sure which character I was reading about, I don’t think this was made clear enough (for me) and there are only 213 pages, I would have liked a longer book (which is also a compliment!)

Overall, I would recommend this book and I am looking forward to seeing the movie when it is eventually released here in the UK.

S x

Thursday, 8 December 2016

'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness (Review)

Most of you avid readers (especially the YA lovers) will have definitely heard of 'A Monster Calls'. There has been so much hype over this book online and after reading quite a few Christmas Romance novels, I needed something a little different.

Think 'The Neverending Story' mixed with some 'Labyrinth' and a dash of 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' (one of my personal favourites) and this is what this book reminds me of

*My Own Understanding Of The Story - little spoilers*

'A Monster Calls' is about a young boy (I'm not sure how old exactly, my guess would be around 13/14 years old), Conor who lives with his terminally ill mum. Conor suffers with nightmares but one particular nightmare on a regular basis. The one where he can't hold on any longer. His mum begins to deteriorate very quickly, which is when his dad travels from America to see him, for the first time in years. Conor is surprised he even managed to get away from his hypochondriac wife. Conor's grandma also starts to interfere in Conor's life when his mum is at her worst and even suggests he lives with her for a while...not ideal. There is another character in this book of course... the Yew tree. It's just a Yew tree... At the bottom of Conor's garden that just happens to come to life like a giant monster and begins telling Conor stories, only the 4th story - Conor has to tell.

*My Review*

Let me start off by saying this book wasn't what I was expecting. It was definitely a little more YA than what I'm used to. I think this would have been more suitable for a 13 year old. Saying that, I will probably go and see the movie because I'm curious how they're going to mange it visually. I took this recommendation from Zoella's WHSmith Book Club and as I am a similar age to Zoe (and she enjoyed it so much) I was expecting some thing else.

I did enjoy the stories told by the Yew Tree and the relationship between Conor and Lilly.

I also think the way Patrick Ness has written this book, helps you to envisage the scenes really well. I can't say a bad word about how it was written and I did read this in 3 days... there was just something missing for me and I can't put my finger on it! but I can say I wish it would have been a little longer.

If you're wanting to read something a little different, eery with a little sadness chucked in for good measure, then give this book a try.

If you have read this book, what were your views?

3/5 Stars.

S x

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Losing a loved one.

Hello and Welcome to (admittedly) not the most festive or 'fun' post ever.

I hope you don't mind this type of post during the most special festive period but this time of year always makes me think and miss the ones that are no longer with us.

In January this year, my cousin Gemma passed away at the young age of 31. She wasn't poorly, it was a heart attack and it took her away from us instantly.

I remember the day my mum rang me at work to tell me and my mind just completely went blank and I started to panic. I had to leave and luckily my manager at the time understood and even offered to drive me home. It seemed like the longest drive of my life. Trying to make sense of what I'd just heard on the phone 'Gemma's dead'.

I ran to my aunties house and needed confirmation. Surely this isn't happening.. The look on my aunties face when I arrived said it all.

Gemma, the most friendliest, bubbliest, hilarious and good hearted person I ever knew had left us.

When I was little, me, my mum and my brothers would always spend the weekend at my aunties house with our cousins. Our cousins were like our brothers and sisters, we fought and loved each other the same. We would have pillow fights, play pretend hair dressers, jump on the beds, play ice- cream tig (you get the picture).

Gemma was the one person who held the family together, who never missed a birthday, Christmas and she always sent random surprise messages just asking how you were and that she missed you. Of course, as always, the response was, 'Miss you too, we have to meet up' and just never did. I feel so angry at those times now.

I know it's silly to have regrets when there is nothing you could've done differently. I didn't expect Gemma to be taken from me so soon. I thought I had all the time in the world and you don't.

Don't take anyone or anything for granted. Tell the people you love, that you love them every day and always make the effort to visit family and friends. You never know what could happen.

From this experience, I know that I spent time with people who didn't deserve my time when I could have spent it with Gemma. I'm not sure why I didn't spend more time with her, she was my cousin, like a sister (would have been my maid of honour). Why didn't I see her more? I'm angry at myself for this and this will take a while for me to get past.

I think of Gem every day and miss her so much. I know she's looking down on me somewhere and I will treasure the time we had and the memories we shared.

I had to get this off my chest and I'm sure if you've ever lost someone so dear to you, you'll know exactly how this feels. Things get easier, you just have to give yourself time and spend time with the people who love and care for you.

Lets remember them and let their lives live on, forever!

S x

Saturday, 3 December 2016

'A Christmas Tail' by Cressida McLaughlin (Review)

Hello and Welcome to a whole new Christmas Book Review as part of the,
 'Writerly Yours Christmas Readathon'.  

This is the PERFECT time to get stuck into a Christmas Romance Novel.  Just as December is, well, right now. 

So, I'm sure you're thinking, 'Oh, another Christmas Romance, how is this going to be any different to the others'. Well my little loves, don't you worry. Cressida McLaughlin has you covered. So what makes this Christmas romance different? There are dogs! lots of loveable dog characters that can warm the cockles of anyone.  If you're more of a Cat lover then there's a little Cat in there too. The main character...

Cat is a kind, curious over thinker who is new to Primrose Terrace and is currently lodging at her friend, Polly and her brother,  Joe's house. Cat currently works at a Nursery, until one day when she gets herself fired. 

Becoming unemployed is the best thing that ever happened to Cat and with Joe's brilliance (Joe also manages his own illustrative business), Cat realises she can do so much more and starts her own business, 'Pooch Promenade'  - Dog walking. 

One day when Cat is walking the dogs in the park, she notices a stranger...a tall dark and handsome stranger called Mark. Although Cat is warned about Mark from the local cafe owner, she still wants to know more about him and what brings him to Primrose Terrace. Is Mark dating Jessica the pristine and classy local 'celeb'? and is this just lust or will Cat find love in time for Christmas?

The first thing that drew me to this book was the front cover. It is  so pretty and so festive. I love the pun in the title and I am a huge animal lover so this drew me in, instantly.

The way Cressida writes helps you to imagine the scenes so well. I could picture Primrose Terrace vividly and the park nearby. I wanted to jump into the novel and snap up Frankie's spare room.

Another thing Cressida explains so well are the seasons throughout the course of the book. When she described the summer days, I could almost feel the sun beating down on me. This made me pine for Summer (for a whole of 6 seconds - Autumn is my favourite season).

*Spolier Alert*

A few of my favourite scenes:

I loved the scene where Cat and Joe were in the van on the beach. I think this is when it hit them both that they were very much in love. I literally let out a little 'Grrrr' of irritation when they were interrupted.

When Mr Jasper helped Cat with Chalky - so many feels.

UGH - one of the scenes that got my back up was Mark's behaviour at Jessica's Christmas Party. This man repulses me!

I love Curiosity Kitten and I am Team Joe all the way.

All in all I can say is that this book was full of suspense for me, warmed my heart and made me feel very Christmassy. It also made me miss my family dog, Molly who passed away a couple of years ago but also made me thankful that we had such an amazing dog for 13 years. <3

S x

This book is a bargain at 99p on the Kobo, or if you have a Kindle or would like the hard copy, you can find the link here

Saturday, 26 November 2016

'I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want' - (Book Wishlist)

Hello Everyone and welcome to my book wishlist!

Can I just start by saying, there are so many amazing books out there at the moment and I want them ALL. Why do I have to be a grown up with bills and a full time job? I just want to spend money on books and stay home and read to my hearts desire! (If someone wants to offer to pay for me to read all day, hit me up!)

I am loving being part of the Writerly Yours Christmas Readathon, such a supporting bunch with great recommendations, some of which will appear here in my Wishlist.

First on the list is *drum roll*... 'A Monster Calls' by Patrick Ness. There is SO much hype online about this book which makes my interest increase tons. All I see is people crying about this book and I WANT TO CRY TOO. This is one from the Zoella Book Club (WHSmith) and I love watching Zoella on Youtube and trust her review. This is definitely first on my 'to buy list' and will most likely be purchased within the next couple of days (review to follow).

Second on my list is 'A Christmas Surprise' by Emily Murdoch. The book club I am part of us currently reading this at the moment and I am a little behind - need to get my ass in gear. I am all for anything Christmas related and I have only read good things so far- this excites me!

Third on my list (because I can't get enough of the festive feels) is 'My True Love Gave To Me' by Stephanie Perkins. Um, have you seen this cover - it is b-e-a-utiful! You get 12 stories for the price of one too, what more could you want?

Fourth on my list is 'Always With Love' by Giovanna Fletcher. I have read one other of Giovanna's novels (Dream A Little Dream) and I very much enjoyed it. I know this book is the next chapter of the 'Billy And Me' series- so I guess I might want to buy that first! I watch Giovanna on Youtube and I just love her personality and her little family. Her videos are always so heartwarming.

Fifth and final book on my wishlist which I have wanted FOREVER is, 'The Girls' by Emma Cline. I have seen this book floating around on social media but it was more the cover that drew me in (it was also The Sunday Times Bestseller and The New York Times Top Ten Bestseller). Any book that can make me somehow 're-live' my teens, is a winner.

I have just purchased 'We Were On A Break' by Lindsey Kelk as recommended to me by a friend, so this is also on my TBR list.

So, now you know what I will be reading next and which books I still need to purchase, what are you reading and which books would you recommend?

S x