Sorry, sorry, sorry!! (Reading, writing and reviewing update)

I had intended on getting this blog up to scratch, whacking it out of the court with Nanowrimo (or as I call it ‘be a lunatic and try to get close to one draft of your novel in one month), and to read the books that I know I should have read. I had hoped to get my picks of the year at a stage where I’ve read all the books I’ve seen reviews for and CRAVED over the year and so can definitely say that there’s a chance I’m being representative. Instead I’ve found myself restless, unable to commit, and, in the last week with an earache that had me up most mornings leaning my head against anything I’d heated up on the cover, against radiators, that sort of thing (turned out it wasn’t an earache but a toothache and I had a root canal that was bliss because I knew the pain was ending-the dentist thought I was weird!)

Anyhoo, I now have a ‘tbr’ list. No, not to be read, but actually ‘to be reviewed.’ I’m way behind on my reviews (9 and rising) and my reading (11 books on Netgalley, four outside of that and then all my ‘I need to read by the end of December ones.’ (Let’s just forget that theer’s a KIndle full of ‘others,’ shall we?;)

On the writing front. So you might know I have one book out: It Started With a Snub. I have a second book written, the first of the Abbeyglen series called Pushing Her luck, about a lottery winner who tries to ‘fix’ her village, not really  taking into account the people actually living in it!  Now as I said it’s finished, but there is a lottttt to be done with it, I feel I need to get it sparklier, more lively and nobody in the outside world will see it until I know it’s something I’d covet myself.

I am 30,000 words into new book (book 2 of The Abbeyglen series) where one of the characters that was MIA in the first of this series, is taking over and making life hell for all around her, including a very spritely Bex from book 1 (my favourite character, if I’m honest). Here I’m writing as if I am reading, being surprised as I go along by some of the characters going in different directions to those I’d planned for them to go in and am much happier with it than the first book (so will be going  back to the drawing board). In this book I’ve only 10K from Nano, but I’ll get back to that tonight!)

So, just to let you know where I am book wise- First off I’m reading this

trustme

I have to admit this is totally different to what I expected. I’m not far in, only about 8%, but already it seems to be a mixture of very light and that I expected it to be, somewhere on the dark spectrum. It started out with a good old fashioned thunderstorm as the protagonist drives home, and pretty much had me from there, although the arrival of a very chick kitty character has thrown me, but in a  good way, methinks!

and this

noone

This is sooo good. As you can see, it says ‘the most hilarious comedy you’ll read this Christmas’ and actually, I think they might be right! It’s the side characters that are making it for me, inappropriate without being crude with mix ups and muddling that remind you of something along the lines of ‘This Years Love’ meets ‘Love Actually.’ Brilliant!

and have just finished this:

reachforthestars

(Now out as I’m Still Standing!) I’m afraid I saw Bookouture, and Irish comedy and the cover and jumped a bit too fast for this one. I love that it’s set in Dublin, with excellent settings, but with a cover like that I think I thought it might be a bit sharper and braver than it is, it’s more of a really nice descriptive romantic comedy. It’s somewhat telling for me that with only ten percent to go I switched over to something else, but did go back after a while, and I do enjoy the author’s writing and I think most will love it.

and then after that I’ll get to this

herlast

Next up pretty much has to be Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite , basically I’ve been holding onto it for so long, as I’d read amazing reviews, but ones that had told me it would make me cry again (review for The darkest lies is here), and I’ve been tired lately and wasn’t ready for it. But now I am! (I hope!)

 

Sorry that this is so rough and ready but is just I read so many epic blogs and hate that I’m letting people down trying to be blogger AND writer (and of course Mammy, which is my day, night and 24 hour job (and I do adore it!)). Hope you’re all doing well, if you’d like you can talk about anything, anything at all in the comments! x

 

It’s good to be back!

So by now you may or may not know that we live in the country in Ireland, in a place that is beautiful and a dream by day (our kids get home from school and just scatter!) and a thriller writer’s dream by night, being cold and drafty with odd sounds coming from a neighbouring farm, plenty of big trees hiding who knows what, animals prowling about (it’s my first time coming anywhere near a mink!) and a darkness that attacks both your eyes and your senses when the stars aren’t visible (we do have the most stellar display of stars by night, and are lucky to get to stand and appreciate them with the kids!) As an aside, all four of my children have not slept through a whole night since we moved it here, this could be anything, but we blame the house!

Now with all of this comes the big problem in Ireland that is debated regularly- that of rural internet.The Irish government are investing in broadband and aim to have every house equipped with fibre high speed broadband in the next four years. We live so far into the sticks that I do appreciate it must be difficult having to lay lines to places where there may only be one or two houses, and the cost must be shocking too!

When we moved in here there weren’t even phone lines about and the internet we received straight after they were set up was of a hit and miss variety, some days on, some days not. Obviously I blog and my husband is in computers and the absence of internet, while amusing at first, started to get to us. We contacted our provider and was told there was fifty per cent chance we could receive ANY internet at any time of the day. We got a dongle and soon it stopped working and we were told there was no internet in our vicinity at all. My kids love looking at minecraft videos on YouTube and soon we began to fight (not in a savage, ‘Lord of The Flies’ way), just bickering, over my husband’s phone, which has unlimited internet which wasn’t always so fast anyhoo. My Kindle stopped downloading books (I’d sometimes go to family houses or into shops and wait around just so I could get their internet). I gave up on looking up blogs and my own blog was left by the wayside.

Now I don’t want to tempt fate, but yesterday we moved to Three. When I was setting up they were dubious about our speed, and to be fair it’s not the same as it would be in Dublin, something I always took for granted, but I just watched while my Kindle began to download three books I haven’t been able to get to for some time and practically started screaming down the phone at the poor guy.

I’m writing this post to let you know  that hopefully I’m back. This morning I began to read blogs, I spent last night on writing.ie for writing tips (my writing, well editing, has gone south too lately due to kiddies being sick or just waking up) and now my blog is open again and I’m heading straight over to my my writing group on Facebook and the chick lit group I’m on too. I’m so happy. I can’t wait to share all the books I’ve read over the past month with you, and to see what you’ve all been up to as well. It’s good to be back (now hopefully I haven’t set anything bad in motion!) Happy 2017 everyone, and hope your reading, blogging, writing or studying is going just great-remember January isn’t over yet and it’s never ever ever too late to get going on those goals!:)

Big hug,

Bernadette (or Berni) xxxxx

“Mammy, we’ve found you some ‘free’ books”

Okay. So. A while ago I tweeted that I had got an email from Amazon stating my Kindle Unlimited membership had started, thanking me and telling me that I was going to be able to enjoy countless great titles that would go straight to my Kindle. Great. Sorry, actually, what was that now?

A little detective work later culminated in my six year old and eight year old jumping around the room and telling me that they had ‘robbed Daddy’s laptop’ and ‘found a way to get me free books’ and I pretty much had an idea what had happened. Cue freak outs on the fact that our kids knew how to get past passwords and into Amazon and then a deep breath and an ‘I have to go email and get them to cancel it’ from me. But this didn’t happen. Why? Because I was left alone with the laptop that I use for writing and blogging. There was no way in hell I was going to email someone when I could get a blog post out.

Weeks on and the €8.99 has now come out of our account. So I took this as an opportunity to go online and star reading  up on Kindle Unlimited (KU). The FAQs told me it was easy to cancel and that I could use the service to take out ten books of an arsenal of up to one million titles (swoon) until the next billing date, when, obviously, if I’ve cancelled, the book disappears. So I said, well, if I’ve been billed I may as well get my money’s worth. I logged on and my first idea was to look up all those books, usually from what I call the headliner publishers, that on Kindle would cost that bit more than I’m willing to spend, would have a waiting list attached at our local library and would have prices in the bookshop are borderline crackers (sorry, but a quarter of a hundred euro for a book that’ll be read just once doesn’t sit great with me). The problem, obviously, is that all of these titles are more likely to be multiple platforms, and not exclusive to Amazon, which is what is required for a book to be eligible for KU, but, then I had a light bulb moment, went to my wish list on Amazon and began to work my way through the list to see which were on KU. As a result I grabbed the following books that I’ve been meaning to read for ever and now, with a time limit on me I have the perfect excuse!

 

I’m going to leave it at four, as I’ve some review copies to read, and, well, you know, a pretty full Kindle. As for my membership? I will be cancelling … although maybe not this month … Ahem. Anyhoo, I’ll keep you posted. Happy reading all!:)

The Week ahead in books

 

The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndzathe girl int he ice

What they say: Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

A page-turning thriller packed with suspense. If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter, discover Rob Bryndza’s new series today – at a special launch price.

Watch out for more from DCI Erika Foster.

She’s fearless. Respected. Unstoppable. Detective Erika Foster will catch a killer, whatever it takes.

I’ve already started this book, but other commitments prised it out of my hands. I am so hooked and cannot wait to properly sit down with it again. It’s the first thriller I’ve read in some time that lets you see the daylight as you investigate the murder, so it doesn’t drag you along in the gloom the whole time. As I said, Cannot wait!!

 

The Summer We Danced by Fiona Harper

thesummerwedanced

What they say: After a humiliating divorce and watching her former rock star husband leave her for a model live on reality TV, Pippa is determined to disappear. So she returns to the small Kent village where she grew up to make a fresh start. Little did she know that would mean saving her beloved childhood dance school or falling for her old school crush Tom too!

I started this today as it’s out on the 7th April and I wanted to be done ahead of that date. I read The Little Shop Of Hopes and Dreams back when I began to blog and I absolutely fell for Ms.Harper’s descriptions. I’m happy to say that so far not only are they as mesmerizing here, but they’re also joined with a narrator I love, with a narrative I love, and a story-line that has already grabbed me; Pippa has returned to her childhood dance class to lose weight and begin her new life. Bring it on! Out April 7th.

The Rest of my Life by Sheryl Browne

therestof

What they say: You can’t run away from commitment forever …
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

Every review I’ve read of this has been glowing. Cannot Wait. Out April 7th:)

What about you? What are your plans for the week? To the comments!

The writer’s trinity of books/Getting back to (writerly) work

onwritingselfprintedwriters and artists2016

Note: The images above link to the Amazon.co.uk, if you wish to check for these on Amazon.com, the links are within the post. Sorry for any inconvenience caused by this, I had a few technical issues with my universal links.

So lately I’ve been realising that I haven’t been putting enough into anything/ everything in the world of books. I’ve been posting twice or three times a week, writing sporadically, not promoting at all and committing to reading certain books and reading others instead … I’ve been all over the place! So I’ve decided to start again. This means more blog posts, proper time slots dedicated to writing my current wip (book 2, yay!) and a short story that will follow It Started With A Snub . As well as this I’m going to make sure to launch myself into book promotion and studying up on becoming a better blogger, writer and promoter.

This starts as always with the following books that I’ll be dipping in and out of this week, which I call ‘The writer’s trinity.’

Book 1: Stephen King: On Writing

Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What they say: Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

My humble opinion: This book is beyond inspirational, I will never ever be able to gush enough about how it made me sit back down and get ‘crafting.’Although it is fully geared towards writers, there are enough stories and analogies and autobiographical info in here  to  make a non writer would still gush as much as I did after I read it (and re-read, and re-read;)).

 

Book 2: Self Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard

Links:

Catherine Ryan Howard’s website (a necessary blog to follow and trawl for everything you need to be a writer)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What they say: The fully-revised and updated third edition of Catherine Ryan Howard’s pragmatic ‘how to’ self-publishing guide Do you think that no one has the right to stand between you and your published writer dreams? That the publishing industry is going down in flames and self-publishers are going to rise like a 99c phoenix from the ashes? That all literary agents are interested in doing is blogging sarcastically about the rhetorical question at the start of your query letter, that editors will just use your submitted manuscript for kindling and that you’ll be senile before you hear back from either of them? That once you’ve uploaded the book you finished yesterday afternoon to Amazon, it’ll be mere minutes before the money starts rolling in and you can quit your day job? Are you self-publishing to “show them all”? If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions then I do apologise, but this isn’t the book for you. This book is for writers who consider self-publishing to be a good Plan B, or even a sideline to traditional publication. Who want to do it the cheapest and easiest way possible while still producing a quality product. Who understand that much like Starbucks outlets and Nespresso coffee machines, traditional and self-publishing can peacefully co-exist. Writers who know that they don’t have to sell a million copies of their book to start earning a living from their writing, but that they do have to work hard and treat it like a business. Who are blessed with common sense and live in the real world at least most of the time. Who find my jokes funny… If this sounds like you, then SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING may be just the “How To…” guide you were looking for. It will tell you everything you need to know in order to publish a Print On Demand paperback and e-book, and (crucially) sell them, without sounding like anti-Big Publishing propaganda produced by the Ministry of Truth. Be warned: you are now entering a No Saying “Gatekeepers” Zone…

My humble opinion: This book is the ‘how to’ guide of the process of self publishing. It tells you everything you need to know as if you had a professional sitting beside you at the computer, ready to pre-empt any issues you might come up with. I self published ‘It Started With A Snub‘ with this beside me and it strolled me through it. It goes through what you need to know about promotion, starting up a blog, the actual self publishing process, cover design, editing, putting your book into print, with pros, cons, tales of caution and so much more. It is a must even if you are not self publishing. Disclaimer: Any issues with It Started With A Snub are totally on me and not on this book!!!

 

Book 3: The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2016

Links: 

Amazon US

Amazon UK

What they say: Foreword by Rachel Joyce

The annual edition of the best-selling guide to all aspects of the media and how to write and get published, the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is now in its 109th edition. Acknowledged by the publishing industry, authors and would-be writers as the indispensable companion to navigating the world of publishing.

The 80+ articles provide inspirational and how-to guidance on writing for newspapers, magazines, scripts for film, radio and TV; advice on writing and submitting plays, poetry, non-fiction and fiction of all genres – from fantasy to thrillers to romance; how to contact publishers and agents; managing finances as a writer; negotiating legal issues, such as copyright; understanding the editing process; self-publishing and conventional routes; digital and print.

NEW articles in the 2016 edition include:
Alison Weir Historical fiction
Ben Schott On writing
Rose Prince Writing about food
Sara Wheeler Travel Writing
Danny Hahn Literary translation
Nick Spalding Being a hybrid author
Mel Sherratt Successful self-publishing
Mike Poulton Adapting works for the stage
Julia Copus Being a published poet

and pieces on: Writing theatre reviews, Graphic novels, Getting poetry published, Literary festivals, Greetings cards

Every one of over 4,500 listings of who to contact, where and for which disciplines across the media, are reviewed and most updated, with new listings added every year.

The combination of up-to-date listings information and expert advice, make the Yearbook a topical and reliable resource; the perfect gift for every writer every year.

My humble opinion: Okay. So I have to admit I have the 2014 version of this but I will be getting the 2016 one soon. I have read different parts over and over, highlighted, post-ited and scribbled notes next to the pages and pages of details on agents and publishers in Ireland, the UK and the US. I have notes written next to the many articles on writing and promoting and publishing. I adore this book and I’d have to say I’ve named this my ‘desert island’ book ( a great question asked by a reader on Goodreads to see if she would approve people to be her ‘friend’ on Goodreads, after I saw said question I have to say I was desperate for her approval!!!), because I honestly don’t see how you’d get tired of it!

Oh and finally, I’ll be searching writing.ie , the top website (again, just my opinion)  for everything writing related.

What about you? What books get you writing or blogging? Have you any bookish plans this week?

 

 

 

 

My February Bookish Wrap Up!

Please note: if you don’t have the time to read through the post, the pics link to the reviews! Enjoy:)

thevalentinefreezonethegirlyoulostvalentinesdayatthestarandsixpencethe astonishingreturnofNorahWellssomewhereonlyweknowthetheseushowtogethitchedSmartgirlfriendslikethese

 

So it’s been a good February, reading wise, maybe better writing-wise, as I finally put aside something I’ve been working on for a long time, that has been giving me no joy, and have started on a new story instead. I felt better the second I made the decision, as it was like pulling teeth, and although I’ve been set back a few months I’m really excited to see where the new story takes me:)

In terms of books, Valentines was very much in the air, with me finding myself very happy on reading the next of The Star and Sixpence series by Holly Hepburn, Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence, which was really good, although it didn’t quite beat Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence, one of my top Christmas reads, and continuing with me finding a short gem from Fiona Gibson, author of As Good as it Gets called The Valentine-Free Zone. I was honoured to be part of Samantha Tonge’s ‘How to Get Hitched in 10 days’ blog tour. How to Get Hitched in 10 days was the perfect short story for those who are fans of their rom coms that have multiple characters and many misunderstandings and was beyond enjoyable, although in a different way to Game of Scones, which I had read last year.

 

As you can see from above it was a month where I mostly back to a few fave authors, with The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft being almost as enjoyable as The Girl With No Past, which was a five out of five read for me. I also rediscovered Virginia Macgregor, whose second book ‘The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells‘ was as unputdownable as ‘What Milo Saw.

I was very taken with the bewitching Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis, although I decided it might be for a different age-group to myself. I became a fan for life of Erin Lawless, as I wrote my review for ‘Somewhere only we know,’ a rom com that visits the emigration office to see if the vibrant Nadia will be deported, got to meet a group of zany friends that made me laugh out loud in ‘Friends Like These,’ jumped out of my comfort zone to investigate the 7/7 bombings in The Theseus paradox by David Videcette(I also posted an excerpt), and finally, but perhaps most excitingly, I had a blogger interview with the beyond lovely Sharon, from the brilliant Shaz’s Book blog. Not a bad month, actually!;)

Blogger Interview: Sharon from Shaz’s book blog

sharonwildenbloggerint

Firstly I am beyond honoured to have Sharon from Shaz’s Book Blog  here to talk to about her reading habits. As I have said before, before I started to blog, there were a handful of blogs that I read daily, and bloggers that I looked up to to see their opinion on given books. Sharon’s blog is contained in that elite armful, as well as being someone was lovely enough to give me some inspiring advice that helped get me started and so I am so  truly honoured to have her here today!

Hi Sharon, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Eeek. I hate these questions as am hopeless at selling myself. I’m a 40 something booklover who would eat, sleep, breathe books if I didn’t have to go out to work to pay the bills!

Can I ask, how did you start blogging?

It was actually a friend’s suggestion as a means to keep a track of books that I’d read as whilst on holiday I bought a book I thought I hadn’t read but as soon as I started reading I realised I had!!

Do you remember your first blog post?

It was an introduction to myself, most of which is part of the About Me page on the blog although wording has changed over time! My first review was for Bad Sisters by Rebecca Chance.

Your blog has a number of guest reviewers, can you tell me how that came about?

When I first started blogging, I was mainly reviewing books I’d bought myself or won but over time I was then offered books from publishers. I think the very first guest reviewer came about because I was sent a book that wasn’t really to my taste so I asked on Twitter whether anyone would be be interested in reviewing it for the blog.

As the blog got busier I started to receive a lot more email review requests from authors direct so, as these are the easiest review books to pass on, I asked for guest reviewers who’d be interested in reviewing and it’s gone on from there.

Do you ever scrabble for the same book to review or does everyone have different interests?

It has happened on occasions, especially between Emma and I as we have very similar tastes in books. If we’ve both been lucky enough to have been sent the same book, one normally reviews on the blog and the other reviews on Amazon.

Some questions to answer without thinking about it at all … and go!

* Genre of choice? At the moment psychological thrillers

* If you walked into a library would you know the section you were heading to or would you have to think about it? Normally when I go to the library it’s because I’m after a specific book so would know where I’m heading

* First choice: e-book or paperback? If you’d asked me this years ago it would have been paperback hands down but nowadays I tend to read more eBooks as running out of space for physical books!

* Do you head for well-known books/authors or look at for example covers to guide you? I do have a few authors who’s books I look out for every year but since blogging I love disovering new authors. I have been known to buy a book without reading the blurb just by looking at the cover!

* Do you prefer sequels or standalones? Standalones, I don’t mind reading books in series that are standalones but I’m too impatient to wait for books where the story continues in the next book!

* Weepies or comedies? Weepies

* If you didn’t like a book would you cut it short or soldier on? I do try and give each book a fair go but as I’ve been told recently life is too short to get hang up so if I cannot get into a book at the second attempt of reading then I do give up. Fortunately, it doesn’t happy that often.

* If I was to ask you to name one book that jumps into your head what would it be? It would have to be Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes, it’s a book I have bought for others and recommended numerous times. I was even a World Book Night giver for it a few years ago. I’m really looking forward to the movie later this year to see how true to the book it is.

And to finish, if you had to choose a book that jumped out at you in 2015 (not necessarily your favourite) what would it be? The New Woman by Charity Norman.

Well, thanks so much for agreeing to pop in today, Sharon, great answers, I really enjoyed hearing them and I’ve loved having you over!:)

Sharon can be found on:

Shaz’s Book Blog
Shaz’s Book Blog FB page
Shaz’s Book Blog Twitter

 

Jenny in Neverland: Blogger Interview

jennyinneverland

Firstly I am so excited to have one of my blogging idols, Jenny from the bookish lifestyle blog, Jenny In Neverland here to talk to about her reading habits (just look at the pretty banner above: gorgeous!). Jenny’s is a blog that, from the start of my own blogging journey, I’ve consistently followed, actively seeking her out (I especially love sitting down to devour it on a Sunday morning). She is in my Top 5 bloggers as well as being one of the most popular bloggers in the circle I follow (note to self: must let you all know about the  bloggers I never ever miss posts from) and also helped me when I began blogging so you can imagine how happy I am to have her here today! Anyhoo, lets get going!

Hi Jenny, great to have you here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Bernadette! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I’m Jenny (obviously), book and lifestyle blogger from just outside of London. I love reading, writing, cooking, Formula 1, Disney and animals. I also own my own online book touring business for authors. Ummm, I hate this question, it always makes me sound really boring haha! I love cleaning…

Can I ask, how did you start blogging?

I was actually searching for reviews of the book I’d just finished reading at the time (I still remember which book it was too, The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson) and I came across a book blog (Bookboodle). I didn’t know much about blogging at the time – any type of blogging – but I was in a pretty shitty place; mental health wise and I’d just quit my college course and my placement because it wasn’t going the way I’d planned. So I contacted her and asked her for some information and advice and she helped me set my blog up and you know what they say, the rest is history. I really do owe everything to Lindsay from Bookboodle because I’m 100% certain I wouldn’t be blogging if it wasn’t for her.

Do you remember your first blog post?

I do indeed! It was a book review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, one of my all-time favorite books. Looking back now, in all honesty, it wasn’t too bad for a very first post. It’s a lot less embarrassing than some of my others haha!

You made the move from book blogger to lifestyle blogger (albeit with so many glorious bookish elements to your blog that I still call it a book blog!), can you tell us how it came about?

You know what, I don’t really know. It’s not that my love of books was disappearing (that will never happen) I think it was because of review copies. I was getting so stressed out with all these books being sent to me and having to review them by a certain date that I was falling out of love with book blogging a bit. I very nearly almost quit blogging about books altogether but I’m so glad I didn’t. I still accept review copies now but only ones I’ve specifically requested. I no longer have a review requests form on my blog either because there were just so many coming through that it was overwhelming. From the beginning, I always wrote “other” posts as well – mostly about book related topics but not specifically book reviews and really enjoyed the freedom in writing about whatever I wanted and these “other” posts just became more and more over time that one day I looked at my blog and realized, “Actually, I’m a lifestyle blogger now”. But I’m really glad you still see me as a book blogger – books will always be the reason I started blogging and I’m hoping to blog about them more in 2016! Go back to basics.

Some questions to answer without thinking about it at all … and go! (Ooooh, I love these kind of questions!)

* Genre of choice? Young Adult

* If you walked into a library would you know where you were heading to or would you have to think about it? I’d probably have to think about it

* First choice: e-book or paperback? Paperback

* Do you head for well-known books/authors or look at for example covers to guide you? Erm, bit of both. I’m a sucker for a good cover though.

* Do you prefer sequels or standalones? Oh no. Erm, both. Depends. Some books don’t need sequels – they’re perfect just as they are with no further explanation of the characters or events. It just is what it is. Standalones.

* Weepies or comedies? Weepies. I love a book that makes me cry!

* If you didn’t like a book would you cut it short or soldier on? If I was reviewing it then soldier on but if not, cut it short. Life’s too short to read books you don’t enjoy.

* If I was to ask you to name one book that jumps into your head what would it be? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

And to finish, if you had to choose a book that jumped out at you in 2015 (not necessarily your favourite) what would it be?

Every Day by David Levithan. Very rarely do I read a book in less than 2 days but this one took me about 24 hours. It was one of the most beautifully told and unique books I’ve ever read.

Well, thanks so much for being here today, Jenny, it’s been amazing having you over:)

Jenny can be found at (and I defy you not to stay over there for some time;)):

Bout of Books 15 readathon (Come on, join in!)

the astonishingreturnofNorahWellsfriendslikethesethegreenhillsofhome

So to start off, where better to find out about the Bout of Books 15 than from the bout of books blog itself?!

They say: You were going to read that week anyway, right?  Read with us.

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011*. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

So, anybody with me here?

They say as many or as little as you want, so I’m going to aim for three and if I get more read than that happy out and if I don’t I’ll just slink away in defeat(must get three read, must get three read!)!

It started up yesterday, Monday 4th Jan 2015, but entry is open until the end of Tues 5th Jan 2015.

Anyhoo, here’s my three and I’ll keep you updated daily to let you know how I’m doing.

My three books are The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor, (Available for preorder now, and thanks so much to the publisher for the advance copy, I cannot tell you how happy I was to get this after reading and adoring What Milo Saw) I started this last night and am hooked already!) Friends like these by Hannah Ellis, which looks like a nice, easygoing read and The Green Hills of Home (which is substantially shorter, a bit of a cheat you might say, especially given how much I adore Ms. Bennet’s writing, but as I said I’ll top up if I get the chance to!) Happy Reading!!

Berni:)

DAY 2!

Am nearly 50% into The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells by Virginia MacGregor, because it’s just that good. I was actually irritated with my husband last night that he wanted to spend quality time and watch a movie, I swear I would have finished it! So it’s about two mums ‘The Mum who left’ (Norah )and The Mum who stayed (Fay). The Mum who stayed kept everything together when the mum who left walked out six years ago but now the mum who left is back.  The story is told from the viewpoint of the two mums, the husband and the two children, one of who calls the mum who stayed ‘Mummy.’ By the way it sounds like I’m giving you spoilers but it’s pretty much all in the blurb. I have been on the edge of my seat numerous times, and can’t wait until tonight to get to the other half!!

 

DAY 3

It bothered me a little that I hadn’t mentioned yesterday that I had a bit of a lull before the 50% mark, the pacing was a bit up and down for me but am now up to 80% and the surprises have been brilliant, and excellently done. I’m really enjoying and still not sure as to how it’s going to end. The telling of the story from an overseeing voice at times is magnificently done, I’m sure other authors, had they seen that it could have been done this way, could have tried to do it for the whole book, but I don’t think it would have worked, the different characters points of views put with this voice work gorgeously.

DAY 4

Am finished and now cannot wait to write the review (and yes, I do realise this is a review of sorts!) This book had it all, the tension, the surprises, I cried, I laughed, and at one point I laughed through tears, which a book has never caused me to do before.

 

DAY 5

20% into ‘Friends like these’ and I’m really enjoying it. Is light and bubblegummy, perfect for the time of the week. It starts with Marie, in a pharmacy looking for a pregnancy test just weeks after she ‘caught her ex boyfriend in bed with some dumb blonde.’ There’s been few mix-ups and ‘oops’ moments so far and it’s flying along. The protagonist is a tad negative, but as you probably know by now I generally find it difficult to warm to a lead and instead empathize with their best friend, so at least I’m sticking to my normal reading pattern!;) Will keep you posted!

 

DAY 6

So in ‘Friends Like These’ Marie is losing her best friend who is moving to New York. She feels she has nobody else and as the story goes on we’re meeting more and more possible friends and boyfriends for her. There are some very funny scenarios, including Marie ending up in an Overeaters Anonymous type club which she actually thinks is speed dating and a ‘Hangover’ type morning after. I finished up at 58% (went to see the new Star Wars movie, which was AMAZING!)

DAY 7

Finished Friends Like These. It absolutely flew by. I beyond enjoyed it, though I found it hard to connect with Marie sometimes, and there were times I found that there was so many things happening, and this, coupled with the range of characters got a little bit confusing. A fun read, light, funny and fluffy. Review to come. I’d love to say I got into The Green Hills of Home then, but I actually started to write a new short story tonight so happy out:)

Conclusion: Obviously I didn’t even get to my quota of three books, but I enjoyed the week, in particular I liked that I had a definite plan in place, plus I loved reading reviews from other bloggers.

 

 

My Christmas Wrap up (and an extra little something for Christmas…)

Well, all that’s left is to give an overview of all the Christmas books on my blog. I have to say I enjoyed the books of the festive season so much, they really brought forward all the excitement and cheer of Christmas so that I got into the mood in early October! They were so diverse that I have a few favourites. Not only that, but there’s a few I have no doubt I’ll be recommending a few years on, they dragged me in and wouldn’t let me out of their warm, beautifully festive clutches! You’ll guess what they are from the reviews.

So here it goes. Obviously the list isn’t complete due to the demise of my right hand, my Kindle, but I’ve covered those that I would have gotten a chance to read had my one year old not been curious about the device he sees in my hand most days (read all about it and take a look at the books I had to leave behind here!) The reviews are linked in with the name of the books to make it easier for you. Enjoy and merry Christmas!

If you like them a little bit dark,  geeky … and brilliant The Art Of Christmas (a short story) by Jane Lovering is for you

the art of christmas

If you like them warm, beautiful and magical, with lashings of fairy dust and charm, then Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington is for you

everytimea bell

If you like them charming, funny and gorgeously festive, with romance and a nice hint of suspense, then Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence (a novella) by Holly Hepburn is for you.

Snowdrops

If you love a bit of a dash to the altar, coupled with warmth, beauty, festiveness and all in between then Snowed in For Her Wedding (a short story) by Emma Bennet is for you.

Snowed In For Christmas

If you like short, hilarious, mad cap ‘mom lit’ that’ll make you laugh out loud and while away the hours after the kids are gone to bed, then Survival of The Christmas Spirit by Aimee Horton (short story) is for you.

SurvivalOfTheChristmasSpirit

If you like them spooky, kooky and yet warm, christmassy and funny then Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams is for you.

make a christmas wish

If you like books with  beautiful characters, stunning Christmas scenes and gorgeous romance with some comedy in there too, then Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan is for you.

ChristmasEverAfter

If you like a warm, magical, festive ‘dreams can come true’ romantic comedy, then Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale is for you.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

If you like them to be all about family getting together at Christmas, with pandemonium and brightness and festiveness, tears and smiles, then An Endless Christmas (a novella) by Cynthia Ruachti is for you.

Anendlesschristmas

If you want to go on a Christmassy road trip, that’s bright, festive, and all about goodwill and cheer, with a reminder of the holy side of Christmas, then The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson is for you.

TheChristmasJoyRide

I’ll finish with All I Want for Christmas, a piece I’m very proud of as it was written by our Imagine, Write, Inspire writing group led by the amazing Carmel Harrington (I know, blatant self promotion here, but I honestly think you’ll enjoy!). So if you like one long festive, quirky romantic comedy, narrated by different people to give different parts of our lead character’s story, then All I Want for Christmas is for you!

alliwant