Review: Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore

Title: Skating at Somerset House

Author: Nikki Moore

Pages: 40 pages

Synopsis

They say that opposites attract but with Holly and Noel it would almost seem their differences are too intense for them to ever find a common ground. Holly is vivacious, a lover of Christmas and tries to find the good in every situation. Whereas Noel is a bit of a Christmas curmudgeon; he scowls, hates anything to do with the festive period and would rather it be summer.

However, they both come with emotional baggage and slowly we see a friendship blossom between the two. Can they put their differences aside to take advantage of their mutual feelings?

Review

I really enjoyed this short story. It is the first in the #LoveLondon series and I genuinely cannot wait to read the rest. What I loved most about it is that it did not feel like a short story. I didn’t feel robbed or let down. I was given what I wanted. The love story blossomed nicely with the classic will-they-won’t-they drama; the misunderstandings and the soft gentle changes made by both Holly and Noel; both of them giving just a little bit more of themselves with each page and bending their views and opinions to allow themselves to experience something great.

This was a warm hearted winter tale that had me engaged from the very beginning. Part of me hopes that the story of Holly and Noel will continue in a fully fledged novel, however, if it doesn’t (boo hiss) I will be more than ok with this being the only story about them because it gave me everything (and more) that I need in a good winter warmer.

Well done, Nikki Moore.

Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore is available from the 4th December 2014.

You can follow Nikki Moore (@NikkiMoore_auth) on Twitter and follow the series of short stories with the hashtag #LoveLondon

skating at somerset House

 

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Review: Waiting for Doggo by Mark B. Mills

Synopsis

When Daniel is left by his girlfriend Clara he is understandably pretty miffed; left with just a goodbye note and the dog that they had recently acquired from Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home Dan makes a decision to deal with the hand the life has dealt him. First stop is to return Doggo.

However, when he realises that the animal shelter have to castrate Doggo as a part of their policy, Dan – in an act of male solidarity – decides to keep Doggo. And with this act an unlikely but beguiling friendship blossoms.

Review

I didn’t really expect to like this book. I’m not a dog person and I suppose this has always rendered me extremely unmoved by mans’ relationship with dogs. However, Mills surprised me with Waiting for Doggo. I think I fell a little in love. Yes, Mark B. Mills has done the impossible. Do I like dogs now?

Besides the new warmer feelings I have towards canines I also really enjoyed this story. It was interesting to read a break up story from the male perspective. I think that throughout the years I have read books with a female protagonist who has been hurt by the unsavoury activities of her boyfriend and I have always sided with the girl – ovarian power and all that hoopla. It was interesting to finish a book and think that actually, we girls aren’t necessarily that great either.

I may be reading too much into this but I also liked the parallel between Doggo and Dan. Both were being castrated by their situation. Doggo because he was a dog – no other reason but Dan by all the outside factors – his ex; his new boss; his burgeoning feelings for Edie. It was a clever allegory.

Overall, Waiting for Doggo has been one of my more enjoyable reads of the year. It wasn’t too hefty or taxing. It was just an entertaining read. I give it two hearty thumbs up.

Waiting for Doggo by Mark B. Mills is available now.

Waiting for Doggo

Review: In Bloom by Matthew Crow

Synopsis

Francis is not well. He is pale, losing weight and perpetually getting nose bleeds. His mother is determined to find out what is wrong with him. When it is discovered what is wrong with Francis, his whole life changes.

Review

In Bloom is heartbreaking and wonderful. It would be far too easy for me to say “if you liked The Fault in Our Stars or A Song for Jackson Dawes you will love this” – easy, but true. In Bloom is of the same ilk of novels focusing on the internal battles of being young juxtaposed with the external battles of a serious illness. However, what I can say is different about In Bloom is the wit a charisma with which it is written. It is very funny.

Matthew Crow has taken a very difficult topic and created a story with some lovely light moments and that should be celebrated. His characters are brilliant. From snarky teens to crazy mothers Crow has them all. The personal dynamics between the cast are brilliantly played out to help highlight the exhaustion of not only the main characters (those living with leukaemia – Francis and Amber) but of the family members (Francis and Ambers mothers’), how cages can be rattled due to the stress and worry of it all and how we can snap at the wrong people. Crow also finds the warmth that develops from these encounters and how people will pull together in times of crisis and sadness.

What I do love is that we are currently in a phase where YA literature is being released and at the heart of the books is a contentious and (oftentimes difficult) subject that is helping teach young readers not only empathy but also about life. Life is hard and scary and some things you cannot control. And sometimes bad things happen to good people. This is the over-riding feeling I got from reading In Bloom. So, basically, this book is brilliant and everyone should read it.

In Bloom by Matthew Crow is available now.

You can follow Matthew Crow (@Mizzlecrizzle) on Twitter

in bloom

My Weekly TBR Pile: 24.11.14 – 30.11.14

Hello lovely character in my book of life,

How art thou? Goodeth I hopeth. Sorry, I have been assisting with the learning of The Bard this week and well who doesn’t love a bit of ye olde English?

Anywho, it has been an ok week of reading. I got through some good books. Here is what I managed to read:

A Place for Us Part Four by Harriet Evans

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby

In Bloom by Matthew Crow (Review to be posted 25.11.14)

I am currently in the middle of Waiting for Doggo so that should be finished and reviewed for next week. There is only one book that I am due to review this week so any other books that I manage to read and review will be a bonus. The book I have to review is:

The Shape of my Heart by Ann Aguirre

I have been a bit naughty this week when it comes to books. I bought two off Amazon and I did technically buy several from charity shops this week. My argument is that I am technically saving lives….in a roundabout way. I got some fantastic bargains though.

Anyway lovely folks, I hope you enjoy your week.

L x

Review: Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey

Title: Secret Santa

Author: Scarlett Bailey

Pages: 106

Synopsis

It is but a few days before Poldore’s annual Christmas pageant and Sue’s usual Santa Claus has retired, parked the reindeer and hung up his present sack. Sue has to ensure that the event runs as smoothly as it does every year, not just because she is a control freak and town matriarch but also because the people of Poldore are only just getting over the devastating impact of last year’s inclement weather. On a more personal note, Sue also is trying to hold things together ever since her husband walked out on her a few days earlier. No, she needs to make this year special. She needs a Christmas miracle.

Review

Whilst I did enjoy this short story I felt at a slight disadvantage being that I hadn’t read its predecessor. This is no fault of the authors or should in any way reflect on the short story Secret Santa; the fact that I knew that the characters had previously been written about is because of the conscientious writing of Bailey who introduced all the main players with thoughtful information from their book past. What Bailey has managed to do with this short story is intrigue me enough to want to read the rest of the books in the Poldore series.

Focusing on Secret Santa, this story gave me what the other festive texts have yet to do. It gave me that added bit of Christmas magic. There was a slight element of the unnatural, the unrecorded and whilst I have loved the books that I have read in my festive feature they have all lacked that element of magic that you can really only get away with at Christmas.

I loved how strong willed Sue was, how her determination to look after everyone took precedence over her own life. She seemed to be such a giving person. What I loved more about her though is that we were able to see moments of self doubt and weakness and that she wasn’t too proud to let others help her. Her strength didn’t become a detriment.

I was really impressed by Secret Santa and I am intrigued to read about the rest of the characters. This book should be on your Christmas to be read list. I know the rest of the series has been added to mine.

Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey (Rowan Coleman) is available now.

You can follow Scarlett Bailey (@ScarlettBailey) on Twitter.

Secret Santa

 

Guest Post – Lisa and her Book Boyfriends

Today, I’m joined by the lovely Lisa from www.lisatalksabout.com for a guest post all about book boyfriends. I have to say a big thank you to Lisa because without this great and fabulous post, I’d be up the creek without a paddle. Thank you for putting on a cape and coming to my rescue!

So, what are we all waiting for? Let’s read all about book boyfriends because they are the best thing since sliced bread.


Finding the Right Book Boyfriend
It can be said that as a nation, nay as a world, that when it comes to relationships – to begin with we can be a little bit superficial. Ok, I realise that this is a mass generalisation and I have just placed us all in a homogenised box; pigeonholing each and every one of us…but go with me on this. Basically, we judge people by their looks much…

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Review: Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby

Synopsis

Having had to look after herself since she was a child, Zoey has built an impenetrable wall of hostility around her. However, when her friend Maya needs her help Zoey has to let her defences down and allow outsiders in. This includes Kellen, Maya’s brother-in-law.

Can Kellen help melt Zoey’s icy exterior?

Review

When I first picked up this book I was seriously misled by its cover. It looked like a light hearted chick-lit; a bit of comic relief. Instantly, I was proven to be wrong. Within the first chapter you had families living in trailer parks, abandoned teenagers, school yard pregnancies, underage drinking and abusive fathers; all in the very first chapter. I started to wonder what I had let myself in for.

What I hadn’t prepared myself for – even after this initial shock – is how much I would fall for these characters. Our protagonist, Zoey, is a tough nut to crack yet she has a heart of gold and a vulnerability that is kind of heartbreaking. You cannot help but want her to have all the good things that life has to offer.

Kellen is essentially a nice guy but his niceness tends to leave him missing out. He is calm, confident and develops a new and exciting bolshie attitude that even leaves Zoey flustered. It is almost like they balance each other out. With all good love stories – and believe me, this is a damn good love story – you find yourself yelling at the book when things go awry.

Besides the cast of characters, Zoey and the Nice Guy deals with the contentious issue of domestic violence. Not a subject to be handled lightly and fair play to Ashby she doesn’t overplay it nor does she have it as a catalyst and then sweep it aside. This plot thread is consistent throughout the story and deals with not only the physical wounds but the psychological ones of the victim but also those around her. It is interesting to see how different corners of a social group would respond – hatred, shame and even denial.

It is due to these reasons that I fully recommend Zoey and the Nice Guy. I will warn you not to be fooled by the cover. Besides the darker topics mentioned above Ashby also engages in quite graphic sex scenes and also throws in the odd (or very frequent) cuss word.

Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby is available now.

You can follow Carter Ashby on Twitter @CarterAshby

Zoey and the nice Guy

Review: Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Synopsis

Lena Dunham invites you into her world and delivers an account of some of the random events that have shaped her life and made her the person she is today.

Review

Pssst! Yes you, the one reading this. I have a slight confession. Before reading Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I didn’t have a clue who Lena Dunham was. I’ve never watched HBO’s Girls nor had this tiny blonde lady from Manhattan made it anywhere near my radar (Lena Dunham – if you are reading this then I am very sorry). Instead, I was drawn to her book in that very way that us ‘high-brow’ book bloggers hate admitting to. I liked the pink and black writing on the cover. I hang my head in shame.

Having read Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” I do feel like I know who Lena Dunham is. Not just in a 21st century someone-who-is famous-and-therefore-known sort of way but on a more personal level.  This may seem like a crazy idea being that Dunham is only really showing us what she wants us to see; revealing only the parts of herself that she deems suitable for human literary consumption.

However, I get the sense that Dunham knows that the events of her life are funny and that by sharing them she really isn’t looking for judgement but looking to allow the reader to realise that life – anyone’s life – is full of humour, sadness, ambition and dark matter amongst a whole list of other things. She seems so conscious that in parts she comes across as a little unhinged but she bares her bones to us and good on her. There is a cathartic self-indulgence to this memoir in the sense that whilst I know the stories belong to someone else it has allowed me to reflect on my own life, the memories that have made up my story and it has given me the genus to laugh along with some of the things I used to take seriously.

So whilst I can’t honestly say that this book has inspired me to have a Girls marathon it has inspire me to take life as it comes and see the potential in each event I encounter. For that I thank you, Lena Dunham.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham is available now.

You can follow Lena Dunham on Twitter @LenaDunham

Not that kind of girl

Review: A Place for Us Part Four by Harriet Evans

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The final part in the A Place for Us series is like a giant hug. Over the four instalments we have fallen in love with this family, been saddened by their downfalls, heartened by their love stories, in awe of the strength of the cast of characters and basically come to see them as our extended family.

For me, I felt like I was sharing in their story, that I wasn’t just a reader absorbing the words on the page in front of me, or a fly on the wall secretly observing what was going on. I felt like I was a Winter. That is a really rare talent when a writer can make me feel inclusive of a story and whilst I have no complaints about how this story ended or what happened in the narrative I will admit that I want more. I know this goes against my devotion as a book lover but I would love to see this made into a TV series; I genuinely think it would translate well on screen.

Well done Harriet Evans, once again you did not let me down.

A Place for Us Part Four by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

A place for us part four

Review: A Place For Us Part Three by Harriet Evans

Synopsis

Being part of the Winter clan is something incredibly special. Equally, being part of the Winter clan can be an albatross. The Winter’s, like most families, harbour many dark secrets; stories that they have failed to share. For although they are a close family there are some things that you just keep to yourself.

When Martha Winter, mother and matriarch of the family, calls all her children and grandchildren back to the family home Winterfold everyone is beyond curious. Hidden as an excuse to celebrate Martha’s 80th birthday, the family know that there is more than meets the eye to this party.

The house of Winter is about to be rocked to its very foundations.

Review

The third part of A Place for Us has by far been the quietest; the family secrets did not fall thick and fast in this part of the novel, instead it has been a book of reflection. The family are still reeling from the shock revelation of Daisy and her wayward lifestyle and the death of Southpaw and as the family assess and take in these dramatic changes in their lives we realise that nothing can really, truly ever be the same at Winterfold.

Evans choice to make this part of A Place for Us decidedly low key was impressive. The tension had been gradually building over the first two parts and some reprieve was needed. The reflective tales of David’s past and about the sacrifices that he had made throughout the years made you appreciate this family unit all the more. Martha’s sadness at his passing was truly heartbreaking – especially as we see the family look upon her to guide them, to continue the matriarchal role that she once held so proudly, so strongly.

It is also through the memories encased in the close-knit family that helps unify them once more. The Winter’s have survived worse and as we head into the winter of this narrative we see the power that a unified family can have.

A Place for Us Part Three by Harriet Evans is available now.

You can follow Harriet Evans on Twitter @HarrietEvans

a place for us part three