Review: Language Lessons by Jay Bell

Title: Language Lessons

Author: Jay Bell

Pages: 47 Pages

The Blurb

Love doesn’t come easy. For Joey, he didn’t care if it ever came at all. He was much too busy adding notches to his bedpost and preparing for life as an adult. But when a causal fling waxes nostalgic about the one that got away, Joey starts to wonder if he isn’t missing something after all–if there really is something to be learned from the language of love.

Language Lessons is a new short story by Jay Bell, author of Something Like Summer.

The Review

Language Lessons is a lovely coming of age story which focuses on young lothario Joey who spends his days screwing around and as many hot guys as he can. However, when he sees the burgeoning relationship between two of his friends he comes to question his own actions. Then he meets Phillip and all bets are off.

I’m a fan of LGBT fiction and I am supportive of it as a growing genre. For young adults, revealing your sexuality can be a heartbreaking experience yet fiction like Language Lessons allows readers to become more comfortable with their sexuality or if you are heterosexual to become more comfortable with those around you who are LGBT.

It is for that reason that I think stories such as Language Lessons are important. Besides this fact the story is well written. It is sharp, on point and manages to make the reader swoon with the romantic elements.

Well done, Jay Bell.

Language Lessons by Jay Bell is available now.

You can follow Jay Bell (@JayBellBooks) on Twitter.

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Review: The Two of Us by Andy Jones

The Blurb

If you loved One Day and The Rosie Project, you will fall head-over-heels for The Two of Us.

Falling in love is the easy part. What matters most is what happens next…

Fisher and Ivy have been an item for a whole nineteen days. And they just know they are meant to be together. The fact that they know little else about each other is a minor detail. Over the course of twelve months, in which their lives will change forever, Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing, but staying there is an entirely different story.

The Two of Us is a charming, honest and heart-breaking novel about life, love, and the importance of taking neither one for granted.

The Review

Relationships aren’t like what they used to be. This sounds simple to say but equally it is very true. Long gone are the days of courting and asking for a hand in marriage and doing things in what is – believed by some – the correct order. Modern day relationships are hard. They are hard to maintain, hard to control and hard to navigate through this miasma of feelings and emotions.

This is the topic of Andy Jones’ brilliant book The Two of Us. Through Fisher and Ivy we see how the modern pitfalls of relationships can stymie the most committed and, more so, the most inexperienced when it comes to love. Yet there is no doubt throughout the book that Fisher and Ivy love each other, however, a major one of contention (from this reader’s perspective) is that they both find it hard to compromise. Fisher is more willing to concede in this than Ivy is which sometimes makes you become very frustrated with her. Equally, when you get the sense that Fisher is going to do something to screw things up you get angry at the book and start talking to the characters, offering them advice (just me?).

The Two of Us by Andy Jones is a damn fine book and has already barged its way into my top ten of the year so far. I know it is early days but I don’t foresee it budging. Well done, Andy Jones.

The Two of Us by Andy Jones is available now.

You can follow Andy Jones (@andyjonesauthor) on Twitter.

The Two of Us

Review: The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell

The Blurb

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books.

We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over two hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.

The Review

There is a saying that seeing someone reading a book that you like is almost like a book recommending a person. Something similar can be said about this book. Reading the words of someone who seems to love books and indeed bookshops as much as Jen Campbell seems to is like the book recommending her to me as an author and fellow bibliophile.

It has been an awfully long time since I have read a book that has filled me with such a feeling of nostalgia. This is pretty strange because I have yet to frequent any of the bookshops mentioned in The Bookshop Book…although several of them have now made it to my bucket list.

The Bookshop Book celebrates the longevity and lasting love of bookshops and how they not only encourage but also nurture future readers whilst also being a safe haven for people – whether they be first time mums, pensioners, students etc.

I suppose what is special about this book is that it reminds us of our own bookshop/reading stories. I was fortunate to come from a home where I was read to every night by my mother and that instilled a love of reading in me that has carried on into my thirties.

Reading is a tangible, loving experience which we often take for granted and in a society which has extremely low literacy rates and that has libraries being closed down constantly The Bookshop Book reminds us to treasure our local booksellers.

The Bookshop Book is a gorgeous read filled with historical detail and heart-warming tales from booksellers. It is a must for any book lover.

The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell is available now.

the bookshop book

Review: My So-Called (Love) Life by AL Michael

The Blurb

Meet Tigerlily James: romance cynic, North Londoner and die-hard margarita fan.

Tigerlily James has been a member of the Young and Bitter Club ever since she was dumped on Valentine’s day. By her fiancé.

Surviving on a diet of cynicism and margarita-fuelled ‘Misery Dinners’ with her best friends, she’s become a romance free zone…and that’s the way she likes it. Until an invitation for The Ex’s wedding arrives. Suddenly in need of a plus one, Tig has little choice but to bin the takeaways, ditch the greying underwear collection…and start pretending to view the opposite sex as something other than target practise.

Then, she meets Ollie – ie. the perfect solution. No sex. No strings. Fake boyfriend. The only catch is that she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for three whole months.

Dating without the heartbreak: the best idea Tig’s ever had, right? Wrong!

The Review

I went through a phase of refusing to read romantic comedy books. I admit, I was embittered by being cruelly dumped that my bitter and twisted response was to cut off reading about the girl who gets the guy when at that time of my life was the complete opposite to my situation. You may be wondering why I am sharing this part of my past but I swear to you that I have a point. Basically, I became Tig. I had gone through something similar (nowhere near as bad as what Tig went through but enough to leave me cold and angry and in need of the feel good factor) and this, dear reader, is what is great about this book. Any girl that has had their heart cruelly broken will find this a great read.

Besides a storyline that is easy to empathise with the characters are truly loveable. You want Tig to come back to life and you want her and Ollie to make it. Apart from that, you also want someone to come into your life and sweep you off your feet with a series of romantic dates.

In a storyline that could very easily become cheesy AL Michael has managed to avoid that plot pitfall and created lively three dimensional characters with real world lives and real world problems…you know in a fictional format. What I am trying to say is that this book will fill you with the warm and fuzzies and you should add it to your ‘to be read’ pile straight away.

My So-Called (Love) Life has surpassed all of my previous reads of 2015 and has quickly taken the top spot. It is going to be a hard book to beat for my personal favourite therefore I bid all future reads good luck.

My So-Called (Love) Life by AL Michael is available now.

You can follow AL Michael (@ALMichael_) on Twitter.My So Called Love Life

Review: Rachel Does Rome by Nicola Doherty

Title: Rachel Does Rome

Author: Nicola Doherty

Pages: 64 Pages

The Blurb

The fourth instalment in this hilarious, romantic and unputdownable five-part series. Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart… novels.

What do you do when your boyfriend of two months cancels Valentine’s Day?

If you’re Rachel, you book a last-minute trip to Rome. Together with her friends Lily and Maggie, she’s planning a relaxing weekend of culture and cappuccinos to take her mind off men altogether. But when she bumps into a figure from her past, Rachel finds herself on a Roman Holiday that features Vespa rides, hot tubs and some very unexpected consequences …

Girls on Tour is an irresistible series of interlinked stories about four ordinary girls who have extraordinary fun in faraway places. Expect the unexpected, the utterly hilarious and unforgettable, on this rollercoaster ride of love, laughs, surprises and sparks. You have a VIP pass to join each girl’s adventure, so pack your bags and buckle your seatbelts, because just about anything is possible…

The Review

I have loved the Girls on Tour series and in my opinion they just keep getting better and better. Rachel Does Rome does not disappoint!

In this fourth instalment we see some of our favourite characters reunite for a girly holiday in Rome to save themselves from the Valentine blues. However, it seems like our protagonist Rachel has to deal with her past before she can move on.

In what I like to describe as the Sex and the City of short stories, Rachel Does Rome focuses more on friendship and independence than the other stories in this series. It is good to read a story about strong social groups – friendships over male/female relationships – it helps to remind you to keep your girls close because they are always there for you to fall back on.

Another triumph from Nicola Doherty!

Rachel Does Rome by Nicola Doherty is available now.

You can follow Nicola Doherty (@nicoladoherty_) on Twitter.

Rachel does Rome

Review: Ava’s Gift by Jason Mott

The Blurb

On the heels of his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love and sacrifice, perfect for fans of Louisa Douglas, Daniela Sacerdoti and Jodi Picoult.

A freak accident reveals a secret that 13-year-old Ava has been terrified to share.

Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Now, the whole world knows, and people from all over the globe want to glimpse the wonder of a miracle.

But Ava’s ability comes at a cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the ones she loves most.

Full of intrigue and suspense, Ava’s Gift captures the imagination and will have readers enchanted until the very last page.

Published in America as The Wonder of All Things

The Review

Sometimes a book comes along which is just, for want of a better word, beautiful. There is something about Ava’s Gift which makes it eligible for this category. Could it be the stunning writing? Maybe. Could it be the unusual and quirky tale of a teenage girl who can heal people? Quite possibly. However, it is very difficult to quantify just what makes this book so good.

With Ava’s Gift, Jason Mott has created a quiet but powerful novel which examines how celebrity and sensationalism can rock a small town and almost tear a community apart. Thirteen year old Ava has her powers of healing discovered when her best friend is hurt at a town event. This simple act of unselfish kindness leads to a mass flocking of religious groups, non believers and the worlds media to her small hometown and instantly her life is taken over.

Mott has a talent of making you see the story from multi-perspective and empathising with each character; a skill that my very favourite authors possess. I would love to tell you that this story has the shock value and a breakneck speed of story that keeps you turning every page. What it does possess is a calm tranquil approach to a rather big subject. Mott has handled this with integrity and heart.

Ava’s Gift by Jason Mott is available now.

You can follow Jason Mott (@JasonMott) on Twitter.

Ava'sGift_Final

Review: Rod – The Autobiography by Rod Stewart

The Blurb

Rod Stewart was born the working-class son of a Scottish plumber in North London. Despite some early close shaves with a number of diverse career paths, ranging from gravedigging to professional football, it was music that truly captured his heart – and he never looked back.

Rod started out in the early 1960s, playing the clubs on London’s R&B scene, before his distinctively raspy voice caught the ear of the iconic front man Long John Baldry, who approached him while busking one night on a railway platform. Stints with pioneering acts like the Hoochie Coochie Men, Steampacket, and the Jeff Beck Group soon followed, paving the way into a raucous five years with the Faces, the rock star’s rock band, whose offstage antics with alcohol, wrecked hotel rooms and groupies have become the stuff of legend.

And during all this, he found a spare moment to write ‘Maggie May’, among a few others, and launch a solo career that has seen him sell an estimated 200 million records, be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice, and play the world’s largest ever concert. Not bad, as he says, for a guy with a frog in his throat.

And then, there is his not-so-private life: marriages, divorces and affairs with some of the world’s most beautiful women – Bond girls, movie stars and supermodels – and a brush with cancer which very nearly saw it all slip away.

Rod’s is an incredible life, and here, thrillingly and for the first time, he tells the whole thing, leaving no knickers under the bed. A rollicking rock ’n’ roll adventure that is at times deeply moving, this is the remarkable journey of a guy with one hell of a voice – and one hell of a head of hair.

The Review

The Hair.The Women.The Music.

Many things have been said about Rod Stewart over the years. In a career spanning five decades I guess it is hard not to have hit the headlines once or twice. Now you can read all about Rod Stewart in his new autobiography….and it is bloody good.

Much like the way Rod Stewart can sing a good story it is now apparent that he can also write one. Granted it is a story that he is an expert in because it was he who lived it. His story starts out with his humble beginnings, born just at the end of the war and sees his development from child to teen to man.  This ‘warts and all’ account of his life is told in a very honest almost conversational way. Stewart has managed to talk to you in a way that makes you want to – indeed feel compelled to – read on. He doesn’t bog you down with this achievement or that award or how many records he has sold (although there are a few references to his success) however he gives you, rather generously, a guided tour into not only his life but the life of a rock star.

In a time that appears to have musicians incestuously flitting from band to band; and rock stars taking lovers left right and centre; and drugs being bandied around willy-nilly it is hard for someone who hasn’t lived that life to even imagine this world of decadence. Stewart’s simple style of ‘tell it like it was’ makes it seem so tangible and makes you feel a part of this magical scene. The most impressive thing about this account of this world is that he has made it seem microcosmic, just the everyday normal run of the mill events. To the reader these events are often mind-blowing.

Stewart talks candidly about his infidelities, acknowledging his faults and seems truly sorry for any pain he has caused (be warned some of these stories do have a mild blue streak). He is unashamedly honest. The autobiography is littered with miniature chapters which Stewart refers to as ‘Digressions’ – these colourful interludes are used well to break up some of the harder moments in the book such as dealing with his heartbreak, the loss of family or just to generally go off on a tangent unrelated to the last chapter. They add a sweet quality and texture to the story.

What is starkly refreshing about this book is that you get the general feeling of sincerity and gratitude. Stewart gives the impression of feeling genuinely blessed with his lot in life. He shows no sign of stopping and talks of an album release for 2013 but he also doesn’t seem to be angry about the passing of time or the fact that he is getting older. He just seems genuinely content. It is this tone that runs throughout the autobiography that made it such a pleasure to read.

So let Rod Stewart tell you his story in his own unique raspy voice.

Rod – The Autobiography is available now.

* Review originally published on Different Scene

Rod Stewart Autobiography

Review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

The Blurb

Holy Cow by David Duchovny is a comic delight that will thrill fans of Jasper Fforde and Ben Aaronovitch. And anyone who enjoys a witty wisecrack in a novel.

Else Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God – and what the Box God reveals about something called an ‘industrial meat farm’ shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core.

The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who’s recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can’t fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport…

Elsie is a wise-cracking, slyly witty narrator; Tom dispenses psychiatric advice in a fake German accent; and Shalom ends up unexpectedly uniting Israelis and Palestinians. David Duchovny’s charismatic creatures point the way toward a mutual understanding and acceptance the world desperately needs.

The Review

Ok. I like cows and I like David Duchovny. Therefore, I felt that a book about a cow by David Duchovny would be right up my street. I have to say, having now read the book, I am a little nonplussed.

For me, there are two ways that you can take this book. One as a serious satire highlighting the injustices in our world and the interspecies prejudices that animals face – an allegory for racism – or you can read it a second way. The second reading of the book would indicate to me that David Duchovny went out one night with a group of friends, got pie-eyed and then started having a drunken conversation which then escalated into this book.

Honestly, I think I prefer the second interpretation.

It is not that Holy Cow isn’t good, it just isn’t for me. It is not a book I connected with and I wasn’t eager to keep on reading it.

Holy Cow by David Duchovny is available now.

Holy Cow

My Weekly TBR Pile: 16.02.15 – 22.02.15

Ok, so last week was a ridiculously slow reading week for me for three reasons:

1)            I was exhausted from my day job

2)            I wasn’t enjoying my book

3)            I had a cheeky weekend away with the boyfriend

But I’m back now and I’ve finished the book that I didn’t like (see the review that will be posted tomorrow). So I am playing along with Soph and Suze’s NetGalley Challenge and whilst my score hasn’t budged from 32% I’m gonna keep doing it this week. I haven’t quite decided which books I will be reading if I am honest I’m leaving that up to weird selection methods.

Anyway, I hope you all have a brilliant week.

L x

Review: Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Title: Paris for One

Author: Jojo Moyes

Pages: 112 pages

The Blurb

Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She has never even been on a weekend away with her boyfriend. Everyone knows she is just not the adventurous type.

But, when her boyfriend doesn’t turn up for their romantic mini-break, Nell has the chance to prove everyone wrong.

Alone in Paris, Nell meets the mysterious moped-riding Fabien and his group of carefree friends. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life?

The Review

Firstly, I should say that I am a huge fan of Jojo Moyes writing and have never been disappointed in one of her stories. Therefore, I was beyond excited to read this short story. Besides the fact that I like books by Jojo Moyes and I am indeed a bibliophile I am also a self confessed Francophile. Win Win and Win!

I loved Paris for One. It had everything a girl could ask for in a short romantic story. Sweeping adventures, a hunk of a hero (yes, I actually used the word hunk) and it is set in the most romantic city in the world. Besides this, it had a really likeable heroine in Nell. Even though the story wasn’t that long you could see the character grow from mousy push over to someone with something that resembled gumption.

I tried my hardest not to be jealous of Nell but how could you not want a slice of her adventure? Well done Moyes, you have equally pleased me and made me envious. Kudos to you.

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes is available now.

You can follow Jojo Moyes (@JojoMoyes) on Twitter

Paris for One