#BookReview THE SISTERS GRIMM by MENNA VAN PRAAG @ThePigeonholeHQ

ABOUT THE BOOK

The critically acclaimed author of The House at the End of Hope Street combines love, mystery, and magic with her first foray into bewitching fantasy with a dark edge evocative of V.E. Schwab and Neil Gaiman.

Once upon a time, a demon who desired earthly domination fathered an army of dark daughters to help him corrupt humanity . . .

As children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld: a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and hungry ivy, lit by an unwavering moon. Here, in this shadowland of Everwhere, the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together. But at thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everwhere and separated. Now, five years later, they search for one another and yearn to rediscover their unique and supernatural strengths. Goldie (earth) manipulates plants and gives life. Liyana (water) controls rivers and rain. Scarlet (fire) has electricity at her fingertips. Bea (air) can fly.

To realize their full potential, the blood sisters must return to the land of their childhood dreams. But Everwhere can only be accessed through certain gates at 3:33 A.M. on the night of a new moon. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, they will face their father who will let them live only if they turn dark. Which would be fair, if only the sisters knew what was coming.

So, they have thirty-three days to discover who they truly are and what they can truly do, before they must fight to save themselves and those they love.

PUBLISHED BY  BANTAM PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

I read this via THE PIGEONHOLE app.

I loved the mix of female characters, fantasy and the modern world in this compelling story, and it’s one of those books that you really lose yourself in! And that opening is a brilliant way to lead you into the Sisters Grimm world – very inspiring!

The 4 sisters are struggling with their own problems in their day to day life, but there’s always that feeling that there’s something more going on with visions and dreams and it was so rewarding seeing how the story built up when these ‘sisters’ are reunited approaching their 18th birthdays – when a whole new life is ahead of them and they have to choose their paths! This is a coming of age of a different kind for them all!

My favourite sister is Goldie as I just found her story easier to connect with and the introduction of Leo added the romance element which I really enjoyed. But all the sisters had their own interesting stories and the way the story was told really worked for me – I liked dipping in and out of each of their timelines while strange things started to happen and they were trying to work out why these things were going on.

It was magical and mystical, filled with dark and light moments and the struggles each girl faced made them much easier to find a connection with for me as a reader. These girls aren’t perfect – they’re torn, they have fears and doubts, life doesn’t always work out for them as they hoped and there’s always that element of wondering whether they are going to go down a darker path. It’s a story about finding your place in the world and that’s a very easy thing to relate to! A fabulous fantasy read – and I’m hoping there’ll be more from this Grimm world!

★★★★

#BookReview Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella #ChristmasShopaholic

ABOUT THE BOOK

Celebrate Christmas with the ultimate Shopaholic!

The brilliant laugh-out-loud festive novel from the Number One bestselling author.

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.

And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted!

But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?

With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .

Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?

Publication Date – 17th October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £14.00

hive.co.uk  £12.69

whsmith  – signed edition £12.00

MY REVIEW

Becky Bloomwood is back!! And this time Christmas is on her shopping list – surely a doddle for a shopping queen such as herself?! Wrong! The chaos, fun, disasters and dilemmas that Becky has faced so often in her life are present once more and it was an absolute blast to have these characters back in my life with the latest installment in the Shopaholic series!

Christmas has always been the same in the Bloomwood family – her mum and dad hosting the festivities, neighbours visiting and jolly japes all around! But this year it’s all changing as her mum and dad are moving so they are passing on the festive duties to Becky! And there are many requests for Becky to have to accommodate – her sister is a vegan, her husband only wants his normal aftershave and their daughter Minnie has put in her present demands…. in the Becky bubble world this sounds like the perfect excuse to go shopping for new stationery to make notes! So she does!!

I loved how his story is told through different means – the day to day, the emails, the texts, even glimpses of search histories! – and this helps make it flow so well and adds to the hilarity! Not that Becky ever needs an excuse to go shopping, but even she’s finding the quest for the perfect Christmas a challenge this year! She shares the stress of online shopping, the bargains you find but have sold out by the time you get to check out and I found myself nodding and chuckling along in agreement with her on so many occasions! She’s at her crazy but lovable best throughout this story and never likes to do things the easy way! Who knew a llama bauble would make someone go so crazy!!!

With all the issues that Becky faces it wouldn’t be fun if they all worked out swimmingly, so there’s always a spanner in the works as she makes life more difficult for herself – her family and friends are seemingly oblivious to the stress she’s putting herself under. She even decides to take on the local Billiards club just for a way to get her husband the most amazing present! The pressures of having a job and competing with the other school mums who try and outdo one another also adds to her stress – why is modern life so complicated?!

It was so lovely to be back in the world of Becky! Yes she’s overboard, often tactless and slightly out of control but her heart is always in the right place and she means well so I’m just hoping that this won’t be the last we see of this super shopaholic as I just had so much fun reading this book!

★★★★★

My thanks to Becky Short and Bantam Press for the advance reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour THE WAREHOUSE by ROB HART #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheWarehouse

Delighted to be the latest stop on the fabulous Blog Tour for THE WAREHOUSE by ROB HART.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and allowing me to be part of the tour to share my thoughts!

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE WAREHOUSE

ROB HART

HARDBACK / 15th AUGUST 2019 / £12.99 / BANTAM PRESS

‘TO BEAT THE SYSTEM, YOU NEED TO BE INSIDE IT’

An immersive dystopian thriller set in an America addicted to consumerism; gun violence, climate change and unemployment have ravaged the nation, and an online retail giant named Cloud reigns supreme. Rob Hart has taken our current reality and transformed it into a terrifyingly recognisable future.

Paxton never thought he’d be working Security for the company that ruined his life, much less that he’d be moving into one of their sprawling live-work facilities. But compared to what’s left outside, perhaps Cloud isn’t so bad. Better still, through his work he meets Zinnia, who fills him with hope for their shared future. Except that Zinnia is not what she seems. And Paxton, with his all-access security credentials, might just be her meal ticket.

As Paxton and Zinnia’s agendas place them on a collision course, they’re about to learn just how far the Cloud will go to make the world a better place.

The Warehouse is brilliantly devised and fantastic world-building. Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price.

Perfect for fans of The Circle, The Martian and Ready Player One.

EARLY PRAISE FOR THE WAREHOUSE

‘The Warehouse is an inventive, addictive, Crichton-esque, page-turning, near-future dystopian thriller about a corporation ruling over every aspect of our late-capitalism lives. While I hope Rob hasn’t been sent back from the future to warn us, we should heed him regardless.’

Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“The Warehouse is an absolute thriller. Using wit, insight and masterful story-telling, Rob Hart has written a riveting tale that reflects on the state of humanity and where we might be heading. Be prepared for the unexpected and to look at our world through a new, twisted lens.”

Ashlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

“On the surface, The Warehouse is a thrilling story of corporate espionage at the highest level, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find a terrifying cautionary tale of the nightmare world we are making for ourselves—where our reliance upon e-commerce giants is turning them into malevolent entities more powerful than government.”

Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter

“Fast-paced and unputdownable, thrilling and ominous, The Warehouse is a terrifying object lesson of a story that will haunt you each time you see a box on the front step—and yet make you wonder what colour your shirt will be, one day.”

Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times bestselling author of Wake of Vultures and Phasma

“I loved The Warehouse, although and because it made my blood run cold. The world Rob Hart creates is what our world could be by this time next year. Watching these oh so human characters try to cope, even thrive, in their new normal makes one alternately hopeful and despairing.”

SJ Rozan, author of Ghost Hero and Absent Friends

The film rights have been sold for a six figure sum after a five-way auction to Brian Grazer at Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard set to direct, fresh from the Star Wars: Solo movie.

· Book rights already sold in 15 territories and counting and a major publication in the States. This is going to be the book everyone is talking about in August. 

· Rob decided to write the book because of this news story – the tragic death of Maria Fernandes who suffocated in her car whilst napping between her three shifts a day at different Dunkin Donuts stores.

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk  £10.25

whsmith  £9.35

waterstones  £12.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Hart has been a political reporter, the communications director for a politician, a commissioner for the city of New York and is currently a publisher. The Warehouse is his first standalone novel.

MY REVIEW

Imagine a world that’s plagued with consumerism and gun violence and where climate change has altered the way people live – sounds a little too like reality now doesn’t it?! In The Warehouse we get to see in even scarier detail a world where the impacts of the way we live and shop have taken their toll and it is not a pleasant outlook for us all but it makes for a scarily realistic and fascinating story that had me hooked from page one – and now vowing to do all I can not to let this horror become our reality!

In this world the ‘Cloud’ reigns – it’s an online retail giant and it pretty much controls every aspect of your life! It pays employees not in money but in credits – they are in charge of their accommodation, who they mix with, the media – everything you could ever need is supplied by them so surely everything should be wonderful?!  I can’t think where the ‘inspiration’ for this idea came from……

Paxton finds himself becoming an employee of The Cloud, the company who destroyed his business, as security and meets Zinnia who joins at the same time but seemingly has her own reasons for wanting to be there.  There seems to be a connection between them as people but you’re still left wondering if she is using him for his inside knowledge to help her get what she wants.

The detail the author goes into about the working days and the control that The Cloud has over each employee is staggering and scarily believable!   And alongside the story of Paxton and Zinnia, we also hear the point of view from the creator of The Cloud – Gibson – who explains why he created this ’empire’ and how he saw his dream come to be.  He seemed to start up with good intentions but then you get the impression that he just went a little power crazy!

There’s a great mix of dry humour and darker tones throughout as you note the similarities to certain ways of our world and the control elements that certain businesses have put in place, and that the public are seemingly walking blindly into! The wearing of watches to track each employee and can only be taken off at night to recharge, the docking of credits if you were late or ill or lost your watch, taxes and housing costs taken straight from your wages by them…. it’s all portrayed as making your life as simple as possible but the reality is much scarier!

  I loved the little sub plots running through the story and the similarities of the world we live in now were just frightening!   A disturbing but brilliant read!!

★★★★★

#BookReview I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

About the book

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

Published by  Bantam Press

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I read this via The Pigeonhole app.

There’s something about a Sophie Kinsella book that just makes you relax and enjoy the art of reading! It feels relatable, it’s witty and it throws up a number of situations that has you wondering how you’d react in the same position, and that’s how this book made me feel although I did have a few issues with some of the characters!! But then we can’t expect everybody to be ‘perfect’ and not have annoying traits in real life so why should books be the same!

Fixie is the main character and she is one of those people in life who seems to enjoy fixing things for other people but does it to deflect from problems she’s having with her own life, and the biggest problem for her is that she doesn’t seem to have much belief in herself. From the way her own family treat her – her brother and sister are 2 of the most self centred people I’ve ever read about! – to issues she has with her job, she always seems to run herself down. So when she saves a strangers’ laptop in a coffee shop and he – Sebastian – offers to owe her a favour this leads to a series of events that might start to show Fixie that she IS worth more than she’s getting and maybe she needs to start believing in herself more and put herself before others.

I enjoyed the story line featuring Seb as he was dealing with his own problem of being able to move on after losing a loved one, but I did find myself screaming at Fixie at various times with how she was letting others treat her. It was just so frustrating and detracted from the story of her trying to save the family shop, especially in this age of online shopping, and how the ideas of others (her brother and sister mostly!) had no real place in helping to keep the business running! And as for the character of Ryan, don’t get me started on him!!

An entertaining read!

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#BlogTour The Suspect by Fiona Barton #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #TheSuspect

THE NEW MUST-READ STANDALONE CRIME THRILLER

FROM THE AUTHOR OF SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLERS AND

RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICKS THE WIDOW AND THE CHILD

A huge delight to be taking part in the Blog Tour for this fabulous book – my thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all!

About the book

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

Published by Bantam Press

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £10.25

Goldsboro Books – signed first edition £12.99

waterstones £12.99

About the Author

Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been published in thirty-five countries and optioned for television. Her second novel, The Child, was a Sunday Times bestseller. Born in Cambridge, Fiona currently lives in south-west France.

Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards.

While working as a journalist, Fiona reported on many high-profile criminal cases and she developed a fascination with watching those involved, their body language and verbal tics. Fiona interviewed people at the heart of these crimes, from the guilty to their families, as well as those on the periphery, and found it was those just outside the spotlight who interested her most . . .

MY REVIEW

This is the 3rd book in the Kate Waters series, but can read as a standalone – although I highly recommend reading The Widow and The Child as they’re both amazing! – and once more the author has created a storyline that hooks you in immediately and makes it very difficult to stop reading once you’re in! Many a time I thought I had this book figured out and then boom, all change!  I can’t fail to enjoy a book that has a few unexpected twists and turns to thrill and shock you!

This is a story where the storyline is explore from a number of angles which really helps  immerse  you into the plot.  When 2 teenagers go missing in Thailand their parents are frantic so you totally understand their reactions and desperation to find out just what has happened to their children.  When Kate hears of the story she is looking at it firstly as a journalist, but also from her point of view as a parent.  She hasn’t heard from her eldest son in a couple of years so it brings back thoughts of him and how their relationship has changed and how she’d love to hear from him just to know what he’s up to.

And then there is the point of view of the detectives in charge of trying to find out what has happened.  The use of social media by the parents is a help and hindrance to their investigations and it really shows how the modern world can affect the way a crime is investigated.

There is also the intriguing aspect of the story from the emails sent from one of the girls back home to another friend.  Despite her social media posts of how wonderful a time they seem to be having, the truth in the emails seems a long way from that and was a fascinating aspect to the story.  

I was completely absorbed by this story from start to finish.  The pace of the story just never let up and I think all the different viewpoints really added that extra edge to the book and made it such a gripping read! Loved it!!

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Where the Light gets in by Lucy Dillon #bookreview

‘You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .

An inspiring, life-enhancing novel that will make you see your life afresh . . . Fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Diamond and Veronica Henry will love it.

BUYING LINKS

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

Such a wonderful book!!! I love reading books from Lucy Dillon as she always creates such warm characters who you immediately connect with, and this story follows Lorna as she goes back to where she has some bad memories, but just taking that brave step to face them head on and start a new project just brings out the best in her – and changes the life of those around her too!

We first meet Lorna as she is volunteering at a hospice where she spends time with those in the final stages of life, and you instantly see how compassionate she is, and how she acquires the little dog Rudy!

Lorna only has her sister Jess left around as they lost their parents years ago, and while Jess has a husband and family, Lorna is left feeling a little lost and is looking for a new direction in which to take her life. And that is when moving back to Longhampton to buy the failing art gallery becomes her plan!

As soon as she arrives she finds many faces from her past that evoke a number of feelings, no more so than when she finds Sam is back in the area – she used to have a major crush on him during her teenage years and she finds those feelings don’t seem to have gone away. Is he still the same kind of character that she remembers though?!

The friendship and bond Lorna then builds up with Joyce is a wonderful and touching part of this story. Joyce is an artist, but a reclusive one and is happy to live her life on her own, with her dog Bernard, and has developed a hatred of her social worker! But she sees something in Lorna that resonates with her and is quick to trust her, first with walking Bernard for her and then being more open to sharing her artwork to help the gallery.

There are a wide range of topics throughout this book – memories, family secrets, yarnbombing, a community pulling together, facing your fears – and I found myself unable to put the book down at times as I became so wrapped up in the characters and the situations they found themselves in! There were tears too!!

A fabulous read!!

My thanks to the publisher and author for the advanced readers copy in return for a fair and honest review.

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Blog Tour – A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

THE BLURB

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth. 

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  £15.09 hardback

Amazon UK £19.35 hardback

Author Website

MY REVIEW

This is how you write history and fantasy well!! In this book the author has successfully blended both aspects to create a wonderfully powerful and epic tale that swept me along as a reader and immersed me in a brutal, ancient world.

Grimnir is the last of his kind – an Orc.  And he’s not a pleasant Orc!  He’s on a quest to destroy those who destroyed his kind and along the way he stumbles across Njall and Etain – one he leaves for dead along the roadside, and Etain he forces to go with him to show him the way to England so he can reach his destination and gain his revenge.

The relationship between Grimnir and Etain is a fascinating one – one born out of hate but the more time they spend together, the more they seem to rely on each other and become each others’ protectors so to speak! 

This is a fast paced adventure which is often brutal and dark, but just gives you the whole picture of the kind of terrain, foes and battles they had to face along the way.  They also meet a number of amazing characters along the way – some help, some hinder!  

I also enjoyed the fact that most chapters were quite short! I often find with some fantasy books that I’m daunted by the length of each chapter and am often put off by this, but the way this is written it gives you a chance to absorb each section, time to take stock before you move on!

I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure with these characters – the history, the myths, the battles – and found it to be a pulsating read and highly recommend