Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Blog Tour: Review + guest blog post Long Hill Home by Kathryn Pincus (Fiction, 10E/10E)

 January 2015, Koehler Books, 250 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Themes: family, helping others, 

Content: a bit of violence, rape scene & aftermath, can't quite remember if there's any swearing, tissues needed

Summary from Kathryn's website
Kelly Malloy is a wife, a mother and a successful lawyer whose world is shattered when she is brutally attacked while running along the banks of the Brandywine River. Chad McCloskey, a lonely teenage boy from a dysfunctional home, stumbles upon Kelly Malloy’s unconscious body immediately after the assault, and he is falsely accused of the crime after he tries to help her. Maria Hernandez, a young woman who emigrated illegally from Mexico, is reluctantly thrust into the role of witness to the crime, putting her in jeopardy of deportation only weeks before she is to give birth to her child. Kelly, Chad and Maria all suffer tremendous adversity in the wake of the crime, and they ultimately discover that their lives and their fate are inextricably and permanently connected

Nayu's thoughts
Kathryn writes about a topic which isn't pleasant but is one close to my heart. I feel strongly about women who are raped, because they are violated and are forever changed by their experience. It can happen from someone they know, it can be followed up with murder, or there are those like Kelly who close down before they open up to their loved ones. 

There's no getting around this was a hard read because it's sadly something that happens a lot in real life. I wish all women and men (it's not just women who get raped) who get raped receive the help and compassion that Kelly does, that such kind people as the joggers found them. Being shown kindness right when you are at your most vulnerable when Kelly woke up after the incident must help a smidge to restore hope in humanity, that not everyone is as barbaric as the man who hurt her. 

As awful as it was reading about Maria's reluctance to initially say anything, I understood it was her mother's instinct kicking in, she wanted to stay with her baby after it was born. I cheered when she disobeyed her husband - usually I'd agree doing what your husband says, but in this instance Maria did the right thing, even though the consequences were potentially life changing. 

Like me you won't be disappointed by the end of the story which was journeyed to with a maelstrom of emotions, both positive and negative from all the characters. It's not a a comfort read, but it is one I'll reread in time just because it's so good, especially the part where the title comes from. I might skip over when Kelly is raped, it's not mega graphic but I have a tendency to think about real life instances which can get me down, so by skipping that part I'll remember what happened to Kelly but not have it so vivid in my mind.

Find out more on Kathryn's website

Suggested read
For another tale involving rape try If I Forget You by Michelle Davidson Argylle (New Adult, 10E/10E)


Guest Post by Kathryn Pincus, Author of Long Hill Home

Nayu here! In addition to such a brilliant read it is an honour to have Kathryn talk about writing Long Hill Home, how it came to be and what kind of research went into writing the book. Thank you Kathryn for stopping by on your tour! 
 
How My Ideas For the Plot Slowly Grew to Become Long Hill Home

Almost every morning, as the sun is beginning its ascent into the sky, I lace up my running shoes, stretch, and bound out the door. A feeling of contentment sets in immediately—not the fabled “runner’s high” or anything as dramatic as that—just a sense of calm and happiness, a transcendence over my daily milieu. As I enter this physical state, my mental state begins to wake up and roam freely. The caffeine I consumed an hour earlier may be the catalyst, but the real reason for my mind’s exploration is the fact that it is blissfully unoccupied. There are no televisions blaring in my ears, no social media pages flashing before my eyes, and no teenagers asking me where their football jersey could be. My thoughts begin to wander to varying and random subjects. Often they get stuck on a particular subject and begin to analyze, dissect, and elaborate on that subject, as if I were attempting to persuade some illusive audience.
From 1991 through 2005 I was a full-time attorney practicing corporate, commercial and employment law and litigation. A significant part of my responsibilities in that role involved writing complex legal documents such as briefs, position statements and other work product. I loved that part of my job, i.e., compiling a factual record through discovery, researching the relevant law, and weaving the factual record and the law together into compelling arguments to persuade a judge or arbitrator to decide the dispute in favor of my client. It is essentially the telling of a story—but within the framework of certain facts and law.
In 2005, I quit the practice of law to provide better care for a busy household with two teenagers and two elementary school age children. While I do not regret that decision for one moment, I did miss many aspects of my profession, and most particularly, the process of writing. But I still had my daily morning run—and during those runs my mind began to weave a story……
I began writing the manuscript that became my debut novel, Long Hill Home, over six years ago. At first the story evolved in my head as I went for my daily morning run, past Breck’s Mill, over the mossy banks of the Brandywine River and through the expansive lawn of Rockford Park. At first the story evolved out of my own fears—a woman running alone always has to worry about the “what if….”
After the beginning of my story was set, and a woman running past Breck’s Mill was abducted and assaulted, I started to think about the other people involved. I created a scared young man who makes a poor decision while he is trying to do the right thing, and as a result he is falsely accused of the crime and imprisoned with dangerous felons. I saw a young pregnant woman peeking out of a window above the crime as it unfolds, horrified by what she is witnessing but terrified to alert the authorities because she is in this country illegally. Every day as I ran, the story unfolded and became more complex. Once the roots and the trunk of my story took hold, they were fleshed out with smaller branches and lush leaves. The main characters all had background stories, they each had a path of adversity ahead (their “long hill home’), and I had an obligation to see them through.
Over time I found moments here and there after my morning run to sit down and type my story at my computer. I did this in small pieces over years, because I was extremely busy with family, household and numerous volunteer positions. As my children got older and my duties and distractions diminished significantly, I became more purposeful at writing my story.
I deliberately set my story and created its characters and events based on my real life experience--places, people and a profession that I was very familiar with. Long Hill Home is set in the neighborhood that I live in, the trails that I run on, the city park that I frequent, the courthouse that I practiced law in for many years and other buildings and places that I am personally very familiar with. The characters in Long Hill Home are fictional, of course, but they are an amalgamation of physical and behavioral traits of people I have known personally, or observed or read about. Even my real life profession—the practice of law—figures prominently in Long Hill Home. This familiarity and real life experience is essential for me to write vividly and convincingly. I wanted my readers to be able to see the people and places of Long Hill Home, and feel as if they are in the book—a true vicarious experience. I couldn’t do that without using my real life experience.

Finally, once the kernel of the story that I developed during my morning runs became a complex story, with characters, settings and events that I was capable of vividly describing, I finally had to turn to outside sources to learn about or verify a few pieces that were slightly outside of my bailiwick. First, I ran a few questions regarding Delaware criminal procedure by a friend who is an experienced prosecutor with the Delaware Attorney General’s office. I had practiced civil litigation, and I knew how to research the Delaware Rules Of Criminal Procedure, but I wanted to know how the procedure plays out in practice. Second, I asked someone at the Wilmington Latin American Community Center about how they provide legal advice to their clients, and she directed me to an attorney who answered all of my questions. Finally, I did my own research: (1) on the law on immigration; (2) DNA Testing; and (3) the science and procedure of chemical capture—i.e., the use of anesthetic drugs to immobilize an animal to capture it.

Finally my manuscript was complete. Now I just had to get through editing, proofreading, and copy layout review with my publisher—and that is when I started to long for the days when I could work while running along the banks of the Brandywine River.

Monday, 30 March 2015

What are YOU reading? #262





What are you reading on Monday? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys where you post books completed last week and plans for upcoming books. Jump over to her blog and see who else is participating.



READ


Mummy's Little Sunflowers by Angela McAllister and Alison Edgson
REREAD! - Children's, Picture book
10E/10E
(Still super cute young sibling interaction...) 





To Baby With Love A Record Book via Little Tiger Press
Children's, Non-Fiction
10E/10E
(A cute record book for all of the firsts which a child does as well as random facts!)





I Love You to The Moon and Back by Tim Warnes
Children's, Board book, Picture book
10E/10E
(A parent bear describes their feelings of love to their child...)





Little Snappers: Cheep Cheep Pop Up Fun
Children's, Board book, Picture book
10E/10E
(The animals hidden behind flaps made me laugh!)




 
Those Pesky Rabbits! By Ciara Flood
Children's, Picture book
10E/10E
(Keep an eye out for a mouse who appears often...)





The IT Girl by Katy Birchall
Young Adult
9/10E
(A hilarious tale of getting used to a parent dating a certain kind of person who is everything you're not...)





Carry Me Wipe Clean Shapes
Children's, Board book, Activity book
9/10E
(A fun way to learn pen control and shapes.)





The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) by Kate Winter
Fiction
10/10E
(A funny, bittersweet tale of an Irish girl figuring out her own death...)





Lily and Bear by Lisa Stubbs
Children's, Picture book
10E/10E
(The love between a girl and her bear is deep and joyful!)








LISTEN


A Place of Peace by Amy Clipston
Amish Fiction
10E/10E
(Another gripping volume in this Amish bakery series!)





The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond
RELISTEN! - Fiction, Shop Fiction
10E/10E
(This is at least the 3rd time I've listened to this inspirational read dealing with running a business when your very own family are both openly and secretly against you.)










WATCHED


Littlest Pet Shop
Anime, English version
9/10E
(Finished season 2 of this cute series!)





Holby City
Medical drama, English
7/10E
(An ok episode this week...)





Winx: Season 6
Magical girl anime, English version
10E/10E
(In the name of research I've watched the 1st episode at least 4 times in a row...will explain why in a post soon!)





Music idol anime, Japanese version
10/10E
(A highly likeable new to me show which is rather funny!)





Once Upon A Time
REWATCH! - Fantasy drama, English version
10/10E 
(Almost perfect show which has me as captivated as the first time I saw it. I'm thrilled to be watching it again!)










Craft, games and more
Gamewise....



 
...I've actually barely played on Littlest Pet Shop. There hasn't been an update for months, which is odd considering how the 10E/10E sister games (if that's the right expression) from Gameloft Ice Age Village and My Little Pony have regular major updates. I'm tired of the lack of new content.




Winx Fairy school is the opposite! There's always several quests to embark on, and while some may be put off by the repetitive nature of waiting for flowers to grow, skills to be learnt, and potions to brew, it manages to be awesome and squee-worthy just by being about my favourite anime fairies! 




On the needle this week has been a secret project I can't show you, as well as a bit of progress on the cute owl kit present I can show you. 

 

Not as much progress as I'd like but I had made the branch too long on the left side so had to unpick and redo the yellow leaf and some of the branch.



Crochet wise I made these pinky-purpley coasters for a friend who loved them and said her young daughter would love poking her fingers through the holes. I left her with the promise if she needs replacements she can have them! 

 

 
I've started another set of coasters in a thicker yarn with neutral colours which fits the style of that particular friend. I kind of need to finish them by Monday, but they are quick to make.


 

 
Aside from spending an insane amount of time experimenting, I've started the blanket I'm entering in the Deramores 2015 blog competition. I'm keeping the design under wraps until it's complete, but I will take pics as the current scattering of granny squares evolve into stacks!


 



Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Whitstable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer (Cosy, Fiction, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

5th March 2015, Little, Brown, 320 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Content: murder, peril, tension, a bit of romance, lots of humour

Summary from Little, Brown
Pearl Nolan always wanted to be a detective but life, and a teenage pregnancy, got in the way of a police career and instead she built up a successful seafood restaurant in her coastal home town of Whitstable - famous for its native oysters. Now, at 39, and with son Charlie away at university, Pearl finds herself suffering from empty nest syndrome . . . until she discovers the drowned body of local oyster fisherman Vinnie Rowe, weighted down with an anchor chain, on the eve of Whitstable's annual oyster festival.Is it a tragic accident, suicide - or murder?Pearl seizes the opportunity to prove her detection skills and discover the truth but she soon finds herself in conflict with Canterbury city police detective, Chief Inspector Mike McGuire. Then another body is discovered - and Pearl finds herself trawling the past for clues, triggering memories of another emotional summer more than twenty years ago . . 

Nayu's thoughts
Cosy mysteries rule! That and I adore any shop based fiction. I loved the layers to Pearl's life. It was refreshing that she had a grown up son – in other cosy mysteries the heroine usually is single and without children. I loved how Pearl balanced two job, probably because at the time of reading it I'm juggling my day job, my book reviews, my writing, and my newly started crochet shop. I understood all too well the dilemma of which job needs priority. Her son is rather sweet, and plays a central role to the story. Pearl's mother is hilarious, especially when in front of customers. I like how Pearl's two jobs frequently collided, each bringing insight to the deepending mystery.

The clues stacked up high, and somehow I ended up being partially right about the murderer – I say partially because murder is never ever as straight forward as it seems. I'd tweeted that I was reading it & Julie suggested I make a note of who I think the murderer is at a certain page. Thankfully I saw her tweet before I got that far, so I did and smiled in my partial success. This is the type of story that I simply had to keep reading ^o^ Eager for book two which is coming out later in the year, not 2016!! 

Follow Julie on Twitter.

Nanny Fox and the Three Little Pigs by Georgie Adams and Selina Young (Children's, Picture book 10/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

No searching inside on my blog post!
 September 2014, Orion Children's, 32 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Content: mild peril, humour, aww moments

Summary from Amazon (not found on Orion website)
Arnold Fox - the Nanny to Mrs Buff Orpington's chicks - is back in the follow up to the charming NANNY FOX.

When Nanny Fox and the chicks visit their friends the three little pigs, they dress up just for fun - until Arnold's hungry family come hunting. Will the Big Bad Wolf come to their rescue?

Nayu's thoughts
I fell in love with Nanny Fox in an earlier title which you can find it this book's suggested read. It felt like I was meeting old friends again – although the pigs are newcomers who, since I know the traditional tale of the three little pigs, made me smile at how differently Nanny Fox treats them. It's definitely not your usual fox and pig story! I wish all foxes were like Nanny Fox, as I think they are beautiful creatures, who sadly have an appetite for several farm animals including chickens. 

Suggested read
There are more books in the series including Nanny Fox (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E),

 but Georgie Adams has also written The Railway Rabbits series, which include Berry and the Amazing Maze (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)
 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Summer At Little Beach Strret Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Fiction, Food fiction, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


Neil!!!
 February 2015, Sphere, 448 pages, Ebook, Review copy & Personal copy

Content: baking, moderate romance, grief, humour

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love: she's in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend, Huckle. And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that's floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence. Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves

Nayu's thoughts
Jenny has woven her magic in yet another book filled with rollercoaster of emotions, bread and Neil the puffling. I wanted to have a go at Jenny for the intensity of the emotions Polly goes through. The stakes seem even higher in this second book, with heartache at every turn in the later chapters. I was stunned by the various plot twists, and didn't know how the book could end happily. It does, with a bittersweet ending which made me cry and laugh at the same time.

Polly gets to bake...although there are a lot of obstacles which battles hard against, after a small pity party which is understandable. Her old friends are still with her, and she makes new ones, as well as a loathesome toad of a man as her nemesis who continually destroyed Polly's life for a while. There was a period of time when Huck was an utter moron, not seeing what Polly needed, so wasn't entirely bothered what happened to him but since I love Polly I guess I wanted him to be ok too. There's some laughter to be had, sometimes accompanied by tear as I read the mess Polly's life becomes. Karenza is on top form even when she's hit by tragedy too. I liked the different view of a eventful few hours near the end, since in the first book a different side of the story was examined. I really can't say much more without spoiling the story, it's a gem of a read the first time round, and it's also fun to listen to.

I received this book from Sainsbury's ebooks for review...that was after I'd forgotten I'd pre-ordered it to my Kindle (so it popped up on publication day), and also after I bought the audiobook version, which I dipped in and out of too. You can never have too many copies of Jenny's books! Polly and Neil's tale is a comfort read of mine, one which I hope will have another book, but if it doesn't I'm content with the two. 

Suggested Read
Also recently released is Jenny's first children's book which happens to be an alternate story about Polly and Neil! Polly and the Puffin (Children's, 5 years +, 10E/10E)
 

Zeki Loves Baby Club by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

  April 2014, Alanna Books, 24 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Content: music, activities

Summary from Alanna Books
Zeki and his friends sing, read, stretch, clap, wiggle and zoom to the moon! Zeki and his friends (and their parents) sing familiar favourites and young readers will love to see their everyday world in a story. 

Nayu's thoughts
I haven't had any reason to go to a baby club, so I was intrigued about what goes on there, being too young to remember my own experiences when I was little. Zeki's story provides a fun insight to such clubs, which involve a lot of singing and moving. I like how all the interactions enhance the bond between the child and their loved one, how the book can explain to some children what will happen when they go there (maybe the older ones go along). I think the book would make it possible to recreate similar songs and actions at home, so that if readers can't go to the club they can still have a go at the activities.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Shipwrecked and Dark of the Moon by Siobhan Curham (Young Adult, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)

Book #1

Book #2
 June 2013 & July 2014, Electric Monkey, 352 & 336 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary for Shipwrecked from Amazon
I jump at the sound of a whispered voice over my shoulder. But when I turn all I see is sand, and the towering, green wall of the rainforest. I guess it must have been the breeze, but I can’t help shivering. I have the weirdest feeling we’re being watched. Grace Delaney and her fellow dance students are en route to perform on a South Pacific cruise-ship when a freak storm hits and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island. With the tropical heat rising, passions and tensions swell to breaking point. And the island itself is quietly steaming with a terrible secret . . .

Shipwrecked is a heartpounding new series from rising star Siobhan Curham. Combining romance, mystery, secrets, betrayal and even voodoo in a steamy, tropical island setting, these books for teens promise to set the pulse racing.

Summary for Dark of the Moon from Amazon
This time, there’s no fire in the dream. All I see is a hazy yellow glow. Then a beautiful girl’s face slowly appears. She’s smiling at me, but a tear is trickling down her cheek. She opens her mouth to speak, but before she can say a word a snake slithers out from between her lips, its fangs bared.

For Grace, being shipwrecked on a deserted island has brought two good things: new friendships . . . 
and Cruz, her soulmate. But as her romance with Cruz intensifies, so do the strange happenings on the island. A girl haunts Grace’s dreams – but what does she want? And will she ever let Grace leave?

Love, betrayal and voodoo darkness, beneath a seething sun . . 

Nayu's thoughts
Despite the covers minimal sn*ke sightings and not a lot of voodoo (which I don't like at all) these two books are ace! I know Siobhan through emails and tweets, so I couldn't not read these books. The idea of being shipwrecked on an island sounded pretty cool, but it got scary rather fast. Reading in daylight only helped it not be overwhelming, and despite the covers there are minimal sn*ke sightings and not a lot of voodoo, which I can't stand and often has me not finishing a book. I can't even watch the sometimes cute Disney version of The Princess and the Frog!
 
A-hem, back on topic I was glad to be able to read these in a couple of sitting purely because there was always something more to find out and learn. I wanted everyone to get off the island. I wanted to know they were all safe, and out of the clutches of those they encounter, some of whom seem nice but are majorly evil. The reader in me wants to know what happens next (after the stories end), but the writer in me likes and appreciates that the reader can imagine to their heart's content whether the teens have a happily ever after following their nightmare of a shipwreck.

Suggested read
Siobhan's other books include Finding Cherokee Brown (Young Adult, 10E/10E)