Saturday, 29 October 2016

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

It's smart, complex and quite frankly a wee bit terrifying. Harari doesn't pull any punches when it comes to saying it like it is. It certainly isn't the kind of book you read and just delegate to the back rows of read books. It's the kind of read you digest and ponder over.

One of the issues he discusses or argues s that humans have tried their hand at everything, and the only thing that could possibly stroke their egos more is extending the length of their power. Immortality or as close as we can come to it. It just proves how egotistical and self-enamoured humans are.

Harari wants the reader to put down their phones, step away from technology and perhaps reflect upon the questions, facts and suppositions he throws into the room. It is a very thought-provoking read,

It is quite hard to put the content into just a few words. There is just too much information to do that. I do however have to hand it to Harari for making all the information and hypothetical situations readable and understandable.

Buy Homo Deus at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

This story is enough to make anyone paranoid and balance on the edge of insanity. Except you're not paranoid if someone is actually out to get you. Then again Steph's mind has tricked her into believing strange things before.

Does that seem like one contradiction after the other or as if the author might be trying to mess with the reader? Well, she certainly manages to keep you guessing.

In an insidious 'hand that rocks the cradle' way Steph's life slowly starts to unravel. Is it just her overactive imagination, possibly postpartum depression, a relapse into mental health issues of the past or a third party with evil intentions?

The only thing that didn't ring true for me was the way Steph was willing to trust complete strangers with her life and family within hours of meeting them, and treat old reliable friends like members of the Illuminati. That and the frustrating scenes with the one person who is trying to warn her. Then again I am a cynic and trust is often overrated.

I kind of liked the way Hall didn't give two monkeys about giving the readers the ending she thought they were most likely to expect or prefer. There is no perfectly wrapped gift box with a cute little ribbon on top.

Tell Me No Lies really is a dark raincloud of emotions with hardly any sunlight shimmering through the clouds. More or less a nightmare, so in that sense the author really has done her job.

Buy Tell Me No Lies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

The beginning is a little vague on specifics or rather too specific on the dystopian world building, but with no info to go on. It takes a while to be able to see through the maze of branches and groups of new world people, and comprehend the plot.

All I can say is, stick with it. A few chapters in it starts to make a lot more sense and becomes quite an interesting read.

Moon Chosen is set in a world after technology and long after the destruction of society as we know it now. The surviving humans have split into different groups with their own newly built structures and rules. Unfortunately they all view each other as mortal enemies. The Tree people hunt and enslave the Earth Walkers and the Skin Eaters aren't fussy they will kill and eat anyone.

Mari is a hybrid of two groups, a fact her mother keeps well hidden, because it also means she will be accepted by neither if they discover the truth.

The book is filled with the magic pulled from natural resources, such as the sun, the moon and the earth. The only thing left to rely on when all else has dwindled to to dust and ruin.

There are some tough scenes, which put the book towards the older end of YA for me. Gang rape puts it more in the sub-genre of NA, as far as I am concerned.

The epilogue seems to introduce a further story in the series with a character who just stumbles in towards the end. The emphasis appears to be on single characters and their animal counterparts, which is a shame. I do think the story Cast has built up in Moon Chosen is vast enough to be developed further without throwing in random mate selections whether they be human or not. More dystopian world and less urban fantasy methinks.

Buy Moon Chosen at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry

I felt as if Perry has finally got some of her mojo back. There were a few books in between that were sub-par from a Perry standard. I am happy to say that this one reminded me a lot of the first Pitt books.

I have to say I do find it a little bit of a contradiction where Pitt ends up. Part of the pull was always his being an underdog and his constant conflict with the elitist attitudes of the upper echelon.

On top of that Pitt has become more ruthless and often crosses the line. Again quite unusual for the man who prides himself on being the conscience of the entire British nation. Sorry, but Pitt can sit a bit high on his moral horse sometimes.

What has remained the same is the way Charlotte hovers between upstairs and downstairs.Telling herself and everyone around her that being part of the upper echelon and the ton isn't what she secretly enjoys. You can be happy downstairs and still want to be part of upstairs.

I have to say Perry really does have the conversations, interactions and lifestyles of the ton down to a fine art. I would find it incredibly tiresome to watch every single word I say, just in case I offend someone. Having to wear the newest of new and abide by the strict rules of the hypocritical elite. Perry knows exactly what kind of fine nuances tend to cause ripples in society.

This is very much a return to the Pitt and Charlotte I enjoy.The Victorian Murder Mystery Perry is known for and excels at.

Buy Murder on the Serpentine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Blog-Tour: The Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline Roberts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Caroline Roberts and her book The Cosy Christmas Teashop to the blog. I hope you enjoy my review and the fantastic Q&A with Caroline, it gives a lot of insight into her book and the author herself.
About the Author
Caroline Roberts lives in the beautiful Northumberland countryside with her husband, and has two children. The sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her inspire her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss, friends and family - stories to make you laugh, smile and sometimes shed a tear or two.
A slice of cake, glass of bubbly, and a cup of tea, would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal with Harper Collins (yippee!) after many years of writing. The Cosy Christmas Teashop is her third novel.

If you’d like to find out more about Caroline, visit her on Twitter @_caroroberts, Facebook  www.facebook.com/CarolineRobertsAuthor and her blog carolinerobertswriter.blogspot.co.uk -she'd love to hear from you!

Follow @_caroroberts and @HarperImpulse and look out for #CosyTeashop on Twitter.
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call 'Breaking the Ice.'

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know)
I’ve just finished The Jacobite’s Daughter by Lorna Windham. It’s a fabulous historical romance set in 18th Century Scotland, with battles, love stories, intrigue, and I loved the beautiful Highland setting. It is the debut novel of a close friend in the Romantic Novelists’ Association. We have supported each other along the way to publication, so it’s wonderful to see her novel now available.

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet...you name it)? I haven’t seen a movie in a little while now. But one of my romantic favourites is The Notebook with Ryan Gosling. It’s such a beautiful love story, and I love how the story takes you from the beginning of their relationship right through to old age.

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible)
Ooh, I have to admit I don’t really follow either, though I have seen the odd Game of Thrones episode when my son’s back home – it looks pretty dramatic. My favourite tv programmes at the moment are Poldark, and The Fall.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?
I’d really like to meet Emily Bronte. I loved Wuthering Heights when I first read it as a teenager. It is so passionate, and a touch wild, especially with brooding Heathcliff and that rural moorland setting. I’d love to know what Emily was like as a person and to chat to her about what it was like writing as a woman back in the Victorian age.

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream ├ęclairs totally count)
You can’t beat a slice of homemade cake – rich chocolate, carrot, Victoria sponge with cream and strawberries, lemon drizzle. I like a bit of variety. With a good cup of tea – that’s just bliss and a cosy, pick-me-up. It’s excellent fuel for writing!

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop.

Your Teashop books really are the perfect excuse to just curl up in a corner and spent a few cosy hours nose deep in a book. 

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop takes place a while after The Cosy Tea Shop in the Castle. Ellie wants to take her life and family to the next level. Unfortunately it isn't plain sailing for Ellie and her husband.

Was it important to you to mix serious topics with the fun and loving scenario of Ellie's life?
Yes, as a writer I want to make readers smile and get lost in a fabulous new world, but I also want to write about the things that matter, that can affect us all, and show that life isn’t always plain sailing. And real love builds itself around that, it supports you. I think Ellie and Joe’s relationship has grown–up in this novel and it was great exploring their longer–term love; we see them having to cope with some difficult times. Watch out, you may need a hankie here and there, but there’s still lots of humour and sexiness too.

Is it your way of infusing the perfect happy life with a dash of reality?
Yes, I think we have to be realistic. My books are a little rom-angst. Life’s like that, happy times, sad times, times to laugh, times to cry, and love and friendship can see you through all that. It’s a journey; after the difficult times you really appreciate the happy times.

One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed is the way all the employees are like a big patchwork family. Proving that we don't always have to be blood relatives to be a family. Is that the element you were aiming for?
Absolutely, I live a long way from my family, having moved from Cornwall (where my parents still are) hundreds of miles away to Northumberland many years ago. The sense of community and friendship here is wonderful. I think that would be particularly strong in a close-knit community like the castle estate.

I also have to ask whether you have a secret plan to make readers get the munchies whilst reading? I know I definitely had this strange urge to eat cake throughout the book. 
It wasn’t a secret plan – I just love food, and cakes and bakes are such a lovely treat, so that probably feeds through into my books!

Of course the last and probably the most important question has to be whether we will be reading more about Ellie and her scrumptious baked goods in the future?
The next book is a poignant and beautiful love story set on the stunning Bamburgh Beach in Northumberland with a whole new host of characters. But I am planning to write more “Cosy” style books in the future, so I’m sure we’ll be meeting Ellie and Joe again soon.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!
You’re welcome! Thank you for having me here on your blog, Cheryl!


About the book
From sleigh bells to wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?

Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.
Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?
Review
It's been a while since The Cosy Teashop in the Castle, and Ellie and Joe have settled comfortably into married life. As far as Ellie is concerned it is time to add to their family and make their unit complete.

Not an easy feat when you're as busy as Ellie and Joe. Now they are in the business of hosting weddings and dealing with highly emotional brides-to-be, so certain things have to take a back-seat for the time being.

One of the nicest elements of the book is the way all the employees are like one big happy family. From the reluctant unicorn right down to the poor staff run ragged by the occasional bridezilla. They all stick together no matter how difficult the situation or how obscure the request.

Roberts manages to create a happy atmosphere, a cuddle up in a corner cosy read, which she infuses with enough reality to make the story relatable. On top of that she has incorporated her love of all things cake into the book. You might find yourself needing a snack or feel your sweet-tooth calling, then again that might just have been me. I had cake on the brain after this read.

It is an emotional read, and yet at the same time it warms the heart and will make you smile now and again. Roberts is very adept at making the reader feel right at home within the story. The line between fiction and reality is so narrow that it is almost non-existent. Her characters are just like you and me.

Buy The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow definitely has strong shades of Kagawa's Iron Fey series. In fact it is a bit of a mish-mash of quite a few plots, and therein lies the problem. It is trying to be too many things at the same time.

In doing so it inadvertently makes the story a wee bit spiritless. A story without much direction. An explosion of fae, magic and secret worlds beyond hidden boundaries exploding all at once like an erratic glitter-bomb.

Snow has always lived under the shadow of her mental illness. She can hardly remember a time before the institution, pills, needles and restraints. Even her mother seems to be on the side of the hospital staff. The only kind of support she has ever received is from a young man, who tends to try and kill her on his off-days.

She is perturbed by her vivid nightmares. The type the staff tend to give her medication for. Something or someone is beckoning Snow into a new world. A world in which she becomes an important figure in a fae prophecy and dysfunctional family dynamics.

I know Paige has a hive of creativity to unleash and is capable of producing better world-building. I just think she missed the mark on this one.

Buy Stealing Snow at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Beautiful Maids All in a Row by Jennifer Harlow

I have to admit I couldn't decide whether I liked the brashness of the main character. Iris often seems as if she is acting in a TV lifetime movie. Her behaviour, from a professional point of view, is lacking in judgement to say the least.

The way she taunts the suspect is nothing less than risky. A bit like shooting at a charging elephant and missing. Then there is the way she puts an abuse victim in the direct line of a fist, after threatening her first of course.

Overall a shoddy example of someone in her profession. No wonder her peers and colleagues think she is a liability. Of course everyone takes her mental state into consideration after the traumatic experiences she has been through.

The theoretical jump to the suspect is just that, a bit of a jump, which is a little bit of a contradiction to the prior detailed profiling. However the cat and mouse game makes up for her finding the 'link' between the victims.

I can see Iris Ballard becoming an interesting series, even if the main character is constantly like a volcano waiting to erupt. Her erratic behaviour and impulsive choices will make for some colourful and dangerous scenarios. The 'poke the serial killer and make them angry' kind of situations.

Buy Beautiful Maids All in a Row at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

17th till 21st of October: Blog-Tour: The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop by Caroline Roberts

Are you ready for scrumptious cakes, treats, a cup of tea and a delectable read? Well then you must be ready for the Blog-Tour of The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop by Caroline Roberts.
So you can read what my fellow bloggers have to say about The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop just click on the links below. Follow @_caroroberts and @HarperImpulse and look out for #CosyTeashop on Twitter.

17th of Oct at chicklitchloe.blogspot.co.uk
18th of Oct at bookmoodreviews.com
19th of Oct at starcrossedreviews.co.uk
20th of Oct at mmcheryl.wordpress.com
21st of Oct at withloveforbooks.com

Hope to see you here on the 20th for my review of The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Indecent by Ethan Brant

Brant weaves the criminal element of the Yugoslav Wars into the story and life of his main character. Zlatan is recruited from inside a prison cell, but his so-called freedom has a high price.

He essentially becomes the lap-dog of the people who have freed him. They can demand his obedience at any time. To kill, to stalk and to destroy. He is their personal pawn.

Often it seems as if Zlatan is having a dialogue with the reader, almost as if he is asking their opinion or wanting their understanding.

In a way I believe it is him asking the audience/reader to be his conscience. Will we judge him for his violent crimes and complete lack of restraint? Do we understand the fact he has no choice?

Of course the truth is he does have a choice. Perhaps he enjoys the power, the violence and the lifestyle. In fact given the right circumstance he might even be at the top of the pyramid.

The author delves into the murky financial, political and personal motivation going on in the background of the Yugoslav Wars. At the forefront is the criminal underworld, the secret police and the criminals who played a pivotal role in the Wars.

What Brant needs to do is focus his energy a little more, give the plot more direction and give the characters more depth.. There is a lot of potential, and the political and historical context is a minefield with plenty of avenue for exploration.

Buy Indecent at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Today! Blog-Tour: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Today it is my pleasure to host the Blog-Tour for Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz. Cruz brings a lot of understanding and awareness to the topic of illegal immigrants. Read all about it in my review below.
About the author
Melissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including the Blue Bloods series; the Au Pairs series; the Ashleys series; and Angels on Sunset Boulevard. She is also a frequent contributor to Glamour, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, and is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Melissa at melissa-delacruz.com, on Facebook or follow @MelissadelaCruz and @HQYoungAdult and look out for #SomethingInBetween on Twitter.

Buy Something in Between


About the book
Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.
Review
Cruz draws heavily on her own experiences, family history and personal situation for this story. It gives it an element of legitimacy and the reader may feel more empathy towards the characters.

Jasmine is a hard-working law-abiding young woman, who is on the academic path towards success, It seems as if she has it all when she literally achieves the academic equivalent of a cherry on top of the cake.

She expects joy, pride and excitement, but instead her parents are concerned and apprehensive. Then they burst Jasmine's bubble of perfection. In one fell swoop her life is destroyed and her clear path towards college and career have now suddenly become unobtainable.

As an illegal she belongs nowhere. Legally she technically doesn't even exist in the country she grew up in. She has no rights and no real status. Adieu to her scholarship, her college plans and her happily ever after.

One thing that Cruz explains really well is the general attitude towards illegal immigrants. In fact just the general demeanour towards immigrants, refugees and illegals has become a hot topic in many countries in the last decade. Jasmine feels as if her peers will think she is a criminal, a filthy person and someone they don't want to associate with.

Many people find themselves in similar situations to the de los Santos family. Victims of simple mistakes, bureaucracy, circumstance and often just the fear of the inevitable. Men and women with jobs, homes and children in school. The people next door or across the street.

The courts treat them with contempt and are completely disinterested in the personal tales of these people. No one is interested in the fact they are contributing members of society or can be beneficial to the country. They become numbers, statistics and afterthoughts.

Something in Between mixes important political and socio-economic issues, whilst keeping the general vibe of a young adult book. It is a story that can happen to anyone. People who want to better themselves and their children's lives. They want to give them every opportunity to succeed in life, especially if it isn't possible in their own country. Can anyone really fault them for trying?

Buy Something in Between at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

Bec Winter is back from the missing, the disappeared and possibly the dead. Well technically she is still possibly all those things, because the woman calling herself Bec Winter is an imposter.

At first becoming the missing girl is just a means to an end and a welcome opportunity to distance herself from her real identity and life.

However the more she learns about the young girl's disappearance the more she feels as if she needs to find out the truth about what really happened.

Did a predator pick her off the streets? Was she taken by someone she knew? Does someone know more than they have previously admitted to?

As fake Bec becomes more comfortable in the role of the 'returned' daughter she starts to get a real notion of how it was before the real Bec disappeared. Of course she also comprehends that the one person who really does know for certain that she is a fake is probably the person responsible for real Bec's disappearance. Will they just ignore her charade or is she a walking risk factor?

Snoekstra manages to bring the creepy and the crazy in equal measure. Nothing is as it seems, and hey prepare to feel uncomfortable at times. Aside from the twist in the story, the author does bring some of the desperation of families in this situation to the table. Those willing to accept a fake instead of having to accept reality.

Buy Only Daughter at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

This is the story of Eva and Lucas and the third book in the From Manhattan with Love series.

I enjoyed the way Morgan left everyone else more or less out of the mix this time. The majority of the book is just Eva and Lucas interacting with each other. Just pure emotions and a lot of conversation.

Eva lives in a happy bubble full of unicorns and candy-floss dreams. As far as she is concerned everything can be healed or fixed with a little love and a lot of food. She is a wee hurricane of chaos and the complete opposite of Lucas.

Lucas has become a recluse since the death of his wife, and certainly doesn't welcome the interruption caused by the incoming storm called Eva.

Eva manages to unintentionally start the great thaw of icy Lucas, which in itself isn't a bad thing except for the minor issue of Lucas not wanting to be warmed up by anyone. The question is whether she can make a tiny crack in the ice around his heart or will this finally be the man to break Eva's deeply ingrained belief in her happily ever after.

It's sweet, savoury and quite delicious in places. Everything you would expect from a story by Sarah Morgan. Exactly the right kind of story in time for Christmas.

Buy Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: www.sarahmorgan.com on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5) New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in ForeverMaybe This ChristmasSuddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK