Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Blog Tour: Winter at West Sands by Maggie Conway (Romance, 9/10E)

November 2017, HQ Digital, 384 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Summary from HarperCollins
Can Eva find love this Christmas?

Eva Harris has her hands full juggling a young son, a disobedient dog and running her thriving seaside guesthouse, so really the last thing she needs is to be distracted by her new neighbour, ridiculously handsome but arrogant Ben Matthews.

For one thing, she’s got nothing in common with the man, Ben’s a high flying lecturer at the town’s university while she barely scraped through high school, for another he’s fresh out of a relationship while Eva hasn’t been on one single date since the death of her husband, seven years ago!

Nayu's thoughts  
This sounded exactly my kind of read and it was. I loved learning more about Eva, the struggles she has being a single mum and owning her own business. She has good friends who take care of her, especially since she gets anxious about everything after her husband's death, but when part of that friendship moves away from being her next door neighbour I think she felt a little bereft. I think that's a tiny part of why she found herself keen on becoming friends with Ben, to gain a different friendship which will bring her joy. 

It was rather sweet seeing their relationship develop, with the usual misunderstandings happening in the beginning. The only reason this doesn't get full marks is because for me there wasn't the major incident which usually happens in these types of books. There is an incident, but I'd have liked that to escalate and be a bit more dramatic, but that's a personal preference and the rest of the book is absolutely solid. 

I love the trouble that Hamish causes, and the hilarity that Eva's chickens provide both me and Ben. I liked seeing Eva's passion for decorating and designing shine through both to me and Ben (& her friends). Ben isn't a stuffy professor, he didn't expect to like Eva and from her reaction neither did she, but they really do go well together. The romance parts are sensitively handled which I really enjoyed. The extra touch with Eva beginning to sort through her family issues added an extra element to an already amazing read. I'm a fangirl of this style of light romance, and will definitely be checking out more of Maggie's work! 

Suggested read
A much loved series of mine about independent women finding love starts with Blog Tour: The One Real Thing by Samantha Young (Romance, Contemporary, 10/10E)

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Elephant and the Sheep and other stories by Patrica Furstenberg (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

November 2017, 27 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Book summaries 
The Elephant and the Sheep
When a curious lamb meets a friendly elephant calf he soon discovers the secret behind the elephant's lonely life. sharing means so much more than material things. 
Here's another picture to go awww over!!
The Lion and the Dog
 When a lion is crowned King of a zoo he becomes a secluded beast with no visitors but an observant and determined little brown dog. Learn how optimism and kindness can change even a wild animal into a friend for life.
I love the little crocodile the most, and the way the dog's travels through the day are portrayed.
The Cheetah and the Dog 
When a cheetah cub and a puppy dog bump into each other no one can foresee that their blooming friendship will save many lives, thus becoming the core of an African folktale.
The smiling tree trunk made me laugh!

Nayu's thoughts 
I've read some of Patricia's work in the past (see suggested read), which is partially why I said yes to reviewing this trilogy of animal tales. The rest of the reason is because the animals are so cute! I particularly love the elephant and sheep, the way they stand by each other is beyond adorable! So I guess I may be biased because of the illustrations...but they are only half the story. 

The rhyming story is fun to read, teaching readers about the value of friendship, and how people can be helped with their problems, that they don't have to be alone, and can be together no matter what other people think, all good lessons for readers to take away. These books made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and a reminder that despite all  the negative news in the media there is kindness in the world, and sweet events really do happen (even if these are fictional there are many true stories in both human and animal life that are heartwarming). 

Find out more on Patricia's website

Suggested read
Be sure to read Patricia's other work including Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg (Children's, 9 years +, 10/10E)

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Maria Is My Pal by Dr. Michael T. Soloman (Children's, 5 years +, 10E/10E)

April 2017, AuthorHouse, 62 pages, Paperback, Review copy 

Book summary
Although a newcomer to this genre, readers would not know it from the way the author’s warm-hearted tale evokes laughter, smiles, joyful emotions, and reflections on his writing. His inspiration comes from watching his daughters grow and mature and become inspirations to many in their own right. His first book captures key moments in their childhood that intersect so many family stories—the first pet.
Nayu's thoughts
Pets are highly entertaining, but there can be a scary side to owning them. Sometimes they run away, frequently through human error. I like that there were so many pets at the school for the children to take care of, because it shows them that different creatures have different needs. Willow is a sweet girl, devastated when Maria the class pet goes missing. That was tragic - the pain was all too real for me as due to my error I've lost one of my zebra finches, Aeris, out my window that way: as far as I'm concerned she lived happily ever after with a kind pigeon who took her in. The reality is too awful to contemplate. 

Thankfully that train of thought isn't lingered on for Maria's disappearance, Willow ends up with her own pet rabbit who she loves ever so much. It's not all plain sailing, and Willow does a very kind act with her new pet, something which warmed my heart. She puts the joy of others before her own, something we can all learn from. 

Find out more on Michael's website

Suggested read

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress by Katy Birchall (Young Adult, 10E/10E)

 11th January 2018, Egmont, 320 pages, Paperback, Review copy from NetGalley 

Book summary
Flick's family have owned The Royale – one of London's most prestigious hotels – for generations. But Flick isn't that interested. She is interested in the newest guest – superstar celebrity Skylar Chase, and Sky's mega-famous group of friends, including dreamy YouTube star, Ethan Duke. But just as Flick gets the chance to join their glittering squad, she gets grounded following an unfortunate incident involving a prince, a wardrobe and a selfie stick (it could have happened to anyone!). With only her Instagram star pet dachshund, Fritz, for company, will Flick find a way to escape The Royale and join the fame game?
Nayu's thoughts
This is exactly the type of read I always wanted from modern books with a princess in them (be she born or made royal)! I know Flick isn't royal, and her mum doesn't give her free reign of the perks of being in a hotel, but it felt like Flick took me into the world of royalty and famous people who spend time in hotels, what really goes on behind closed doors (note, spying is not a good occupation if it's not your official job and will get you into trouble). I got to know every part of the hotel with the at first reluctant Flick, who was far removed from being down to earth and kind to people. 

She has Atttiude with a capital A, and yes she gets in trouble for it, but her confidence is a little admirable. Trouble follows her around, especially when she gets to the hotel kitchen and near her much loved hiding space, yet because she ends up becoming a real friend to Skylar, she is let off the hook for a few issues because it's important to keep guests happy. She simply gets punished later, and her punishments are amusing to read. I liked the strange teen relationship she has with her mum, I felt sorry for her long suffering childhood friend because Flick can be dismissive to him until she needs something and he has the solution. Learning about Skylar's insane life was interesting, famous singers have many issues the public have no clue about, but there are a few perks too. Flick learns fame isn't everything, and sometimes keeping quiet about a secret is more satisfying than being the centre of attention and revealing the secret. 

I know this isn't out until next year but please put it to the top of your reading list - you won't regret it! There is a sequel which I'm eager to read (also not out yet, obviously) 

Find out more on Katy's website

Suggested read

Friday, 8 December 2017

Five Penny Rhymes by Beanie Lei (Poetry, Non-Fiction, 9/10E)

October 2017, 31 pages, Ebook, Review copy 

Book summary
In this, my amazing (if I may say so myself) first mini-collection of poems, I tackle bits and bobs about growing up head-on. There isn't much about pain, humour, or romance, I'm afraid, but there are a few experiments, some seriousness, one or two whinges, twenty stories, and lots of rhyming couplets…

Nayu's thoughts 
I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but somehow  I end up reviewing a few each year on this blog, and I was intrigued by this volume because I've read and enjoyed Beanie's work in the past (see suggested read). As Beanie says at the end of the book, most of the poems aren't funny or uplifting. There are some deep ones about the state of various organisations that Beanie has experienced, which while not what I'd choose to read were well written and definitely got their point across. 

It is easy to dip in and of of the book, but I chose to read it in one sitting. I'm certain here's at least one poem every reader wil be able to relate to, whether it's about a cute Robin, the woes of graduating university, the NHS, food and other topics. I expect I will reread these in time as Beanie's way with words are a pleasure to read regardless of the positivity/negativity of the poem, with nuggets of advice and life tips. 

Find out more on Beanie's blog

Suggested read
Check out Beanie's other books including the entertaining picture book The fox and It by Beanie Lei (Children's, Picture book, 10E/10E)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

It Started With A Tweet by Anna Bell (Romance, Contemporary, NetGalley, 10E/10E)

Love this bright cover!
28th December 2017, Zaffre, 416 pages, Paperback, Review copy from NetGalley 

 Book Summary 
Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (frankly, appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . .

Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Jean-Marie, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone? 

Nayu's thoughts
I think many readers will be able to relate with the horror of sending something online to many people instead of the intended recipient by accident, which made Daisy's life an utter mess. Putting aside my thoughts she shouldn't have even been doing what she did, I did feel sorry for her after the incident. Yes she probably deserved to lose her job for her transgression, she wasn't acting appropriately. I thought her career was doomed, and so did she, but thankfuly by the end of the book I learn this isn't the case. 

I thought her cousin's idea of digital detox was good, although I was a bit open mouthed by the drastic way Rosie temporarily got rid of Daisy's phone, and the full story behind the detox, but loved her contagious enthusiasm (to me and others but not Daisy) for her new project. Daisy is certainly addicted to technology, her withdrawal symptoms push her to do things that were slightly illegal, that put her in literal danger, but in the end served how she can live with less media more easily than she thought. She benefited tremendously from the break, even if at first her lodgings were rustic and the villagers were rather frosty towards her. 

Rosie's mistake regarding Alexi was one that I was horrified at, and it was kind of Daisy to stick around so Rosie wouldn't have any unnecessary and untrue rumours spread about her, which with her current marriage status would have been a disaster. Her gung -ho attitude meant Daisy endured a few mishaps from the 'make do' with rustic objects for a shower, and a few other incidents which provided Jack reasons to rescue her, which made their traditional form of communication sweet. 

There are the usual misunderstandings between all the characters, memorable village personalities (you'll know what I mean when you reach the popcorn scene). Both Daisy, Rosie, Jack and Alexi all have lessons to learn, but I think my favourite character has to be Rosie for her grand ambition, the way she deals with a supremely technology deprived crabby Daisy, how she keeps going no matter the opposition against her plan including her loved ones. I promise everyone has a good ending, except for the lewd farmer who is a creep! 

Find out more on Anna's website

Suggested read

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Etchart: Secret Sea A J Wood and Mike Jolley (Non-Fiction, Activity book, 9/10E)

October 2017, Wide-Eyed Editions, 20 pages, Hardback, Review copy

Summary from Quarto
Embark on a journey through nature with this stylish folk-art inspired activity book. With your stylus, etch away at nine beautiful underwater scene to discover fish, seahorses, dolphins, octopuses, and other marvellous marine beasts hidden beneath stunning artwork made up of panels of special scratchable ink. With your stylus, remove all the ink, or create swirls, dots, and other patterns to personalise your very own piece of art. Let yourself be absorbed by this new mindful, creative hobby as you reveal the hidden beauty in each scene – and the artist in you!

Nayu's thoughts
When I was little my older sibling received this type of activity on their birthday, which I always wanted to try but never did, so I jumped  at the chance to finally achieve that childhood wish. Admittedly the lower grade is because at first I struggled to use the etching tool correctly. This has nothing to do with the book or the tool, it is because I have very weak hands and arms, which affected how well I could etch off the black more than I expected. When I managed to do it it was as fun as I thought it would be!
I did the left side, leaving the right side blank so you can see the difference. It is mostly similar to the cover, apart from the covers being different which was a little disappointing. And the eyes...not so cute.
Aside from the seahorse faces not quite being like the cover (and looking a bit evil) I absolutely loved this book! The different animal scenes came alive as I remove the blackness which is a good contrast to the wonderfully coloured pictures. The fact that how much you remove is up to you means that while they are the same picture, every person will have a unique copy of the image once they finish etching it. It is as enjoyable as a sticker book amd a colouring book, although if you have strength/dexterity issues it may take time to figure out the best way how to etch, and maybe leave it on your not so good days to reduce frustration. The pages are sturdy and made of a wipe clean material so you can easily clean up the shavings/remains of the black ink. I think the book could have benefitted from a brief 1 pages guide on how to etch-I had to go online to figure it out. There is a dedicated YouTube video specifically for this book which helped me and it features another book in this series - watch it here.