Wednesday, 24 August 2016

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY: I Need a Doctor - Janey Travis

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: 15th July 2016
Publisher: Thornhill Print

Beauty and fame… a blessing or a curse?

Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career. In her attempts to get un-cursed, she finds herself taking part in a rather unconventional funeral, reveals one or two unrests in her own past, and falls madly in love with a doctor. Erm… that would be a witch doctor, right?

What did I think?

This was such fabulous lighthearted fun and just what the doctor ordered.  It was quite a quick read but it certainly left a lasting impression and ensured I was left with a smile on my face at the end of it.

Nola is a jet setting model who travels first class and mixes with the rich and famous, but who is she really?  Brought up in Glasgow and named Nora, she couldn't wait to leave home and leave her past behind.  Now named Nola and with a Duchess of Cambridge accent she is used to getting her own way.  When her peace is interrupted on a transatlantic flight by a Caribbean lady having a panic attack, Nola can't hide her fury.  She confronts the crew and insults the lady, resulting in a voodoo curse being placed on her.

When things start going wrong with her appearance, Nola believes that she must have been cursed and tries to find the lady to get the curse removed.  Only this proves harder than she thought.  There was perhaps a blessing behind the curse as Nola meets handsome doctor, Louis.  After an unconventional meeting, they fall in love and get married but Nola doesn't quite realise what she has married into.  Louis has family in Haiti and not only that, his family are descended from a famous voodoo priestess; a tradition that is passed down through the female generation.

I think it was absolutely brilliant the way that Janey Travis transformed Nola from a superficial, selfish model into an accommodating, caring wife and mother.  It reminded me that we should never forget our roots and should never be ashamed of where we came from (and also not to get angry with any Haitian ladies).  I Need a Doctor is like Harry Potter for chick lit fans; we all need a sprinkling of magic every now and again.

I received this e-book from Brook Cottage Books in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:


What the Readers say:

Just the right sprinkling of romance and humour.” Brook Cottage Books

“A very enjoyable and clever plot. Different, fresh and enjoyable.” Jenny in Neverland

I couldn't help but like Nola even though at times she is a proper diva.” Comet Babe’s Books

I love all the quirky characters in the story and just the pure madness and fun of it all!” Books4U

“A nice balance of humour, sweet romance, morals and a spooky side!” The Little Reader Library

A Five Star Read - I really enjoyed the light-hearted tone.” Love Reading Love Books 

About Janey Travis:

Janey Travis is currently travelling around the world chasing the sun while blogging, tweeting, writing fun-to-read novels and travel magazine features. Look out for her new light-hearted romantic comedy novel I Need a Doctor. You can catch up with her on Twitter: @janey_travis on Facebook: janeytravisbooks.

Janey also writes bestselling romantic adventure fiction as Janice Horton. Find out more at

Author Links:
Janey Travis on Facebook:

An ecopy of the book (open internationally)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tenacity - J. S. Law

Two hundred metres below the surface, 

she will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy's finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor's wife was found brutally murdered only days before.

Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there's a link.

Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.

The pressure is rising and Dan's time is running out...

What did I think?

I did really enjoy Tenacity, it has all of the ingredients for an edge of your seat thriller, but I'm not familiar with job roles on a submarine so I found I got slightly bogged down with terms such as 'Coxswain' and 'Chief Stoker' and which character they actually related to.  For this reason, and this alone, I gave Tenacity 4 stars rather than 5.

Danielle (Dan) is a woman in a man's world.  She has been sent on board HMS Tenacity to investigate an apparent suicide of one of the crew.  Walker has apparently committed suicide after being informed of his wife's murder and Dan is tasked with finding out if there's more to it than meets the eye.  Of course there is more to it, ensuring that the pages turn faster than you can say 'up periscope'.

I felt quite claustrophobic when Dan was on Tenacity, there simultaneously seems like nowhere to hide yet sometimes feeling all alone. The crew were unsurprisingly suspicious of her and all were ready to stick a metaphorical knife in her back, leaving me wondering if there was anybody she could trust.  The captain, known as the Old Man, had no intention of helping Dan with her investigation and saw her as a nuisance on his ship.

Tenacity really is a page turner and I look forward to reading more about Danielle Lewis.  I struggled a little bit with matching characters' forenames to their jobs so I wasn't always sure who I was reading about when names like 'Chief Stoker' were mentioned, however, the story was fast paced enough to overlook this minor gripe.  Tenacity is an amazing debut from J.S. Law with a spunky heroine from whom I'm sure we'll be hearing lots more.

I received this book from the publisher, Headline, via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday, 22 August 2016

Summer: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons - Melissa Harrison

Summer is a season of richness: gold against blue; sun dazzle on water; sweet fragrance, and the sound of insects, filling the air. We feel the sand between our toes, or the grass beneath our feet. In these long, warm days, languid and sensual, we reconnect with the natural world, revelling in light and scent and colour once more.

Capturing the high point of the year’s progress, Summer presents prose and poetry spanning eight hundred years. Featuring new contributions by Simon Barnes, Michael McCarthy and Esther Woolfson, classic extracts from the work of Charles Dickens, Mary Webb and Philip Larkin, and diverse new nature writing from across the UK, this vibrant and evocative collection will inspire you to go out and enjoy the pleasures of summer.

What did I think?

Perhaps it is due to the British Summer being a bit of a wet weekend that I didn't really get a feel of Summer shining out of the pages, like I did with Spring.  There are some excellent passages in this collection and I was pleased to see Timothy the tortoise getting a mention, courtesy of the Reverend Gilbert White's The Naturalist's Journal from 1776.

I love how the classics mingle with modern day writings in this collection; you quickly switch from reading classics like Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee to modern day writings of stars, butterflies and bees.  Each passage reminds us of lazy summer days with beautiful butterflies flitting between flowers and drunken bees weighed down with pollen.  Perhaps bees really were the origin of fairies, for what is more magical than seeing these little furry creatures buzzing around our garden?  It is almost unbelievable to think that one day bees might become extinct, then fairies really will be a thing of myth and legend.

Published in conjunction with The Wildlife Trusts, the sale of each anthology helps to raise funds for trusts throughout the UK.  The amazing cover of Summer perfectly captures the essence of the season and no stone is left unturned as each passage describes this most longed for season.

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday, 21 August 2016

My Sister's Bones - Nuala Ellwood

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She's the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn't. Instead, she drinks.
But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her very first night she is woken by a scream.
At first Kate tells herself it's just a nightmare. But then terrifying things start to happen, things she can't explain...
What secret is lurking in her mother's garden?

And what if the real danger is where you least expect it?

What did I think?

I started My Sister's Bones one lazy Sunday afternoon and could not go to sleep that same night until I had finished it.  The book was glued to my hand from start to finish and, although I might have had suspicions about certain people, I certainly wasn't expecting the story to take the direction that it did.

Kate is a war reporter who was on assignment in Syria when her mother died.  She didn't make it home for the funeral, leaving her sister Sally to make the arrangements with the help of her husband, Paul.  When Kate returns home, she finds Sally drinking herself into oblivion leaving Paul at the end of his tether.  Sally has an awful lot to cope with so I can understand her turning to alcohol to numb her pain.  Sally was a teenage mum, giving birth to her daughter, Hannah, but after a drunken argument, Hannah left home at 16 never to be seen again.

Kate moves into her family home and it becomes clear quite quickly that she is suffering from PTSD.  She has flashbacks and nightmares of her time in Syria, so when she hears a young boy crying in the night she is determined to rescue him.  Kate tackles her neighbour, Fida, about the boy but Fida claims that there aren't any children living in the house.  Then Kate spots a young boy in her garden during the night and follows him into next door's shed only for him to disappear.  With insights into the cause of her PTSD, the reader is naturally drawn to the conclusion that Kate is hallucinating.  But is she?  When one day she wakes up with blood on her hands and no memory of how it got there, I really didn't know what to believe.

Absolutely impossible to put down, My Sister's Bones will have you questioning every single sentence that you read.  It is an exceptional debut and an impressive psychological thriller that really gets inside your head, making it impossible to tell fact from fiction. There are a multitude of threads to follow and untangle and I felt like I had held my breath until the very last page was turned.  I could write so much more about this book but writing any more than I've written would spoil some of the surprises.  I have no doubt that My Sister's Bones is going to be a massive hit when it is released in 2017.  Make sure you look out for it as you really don't want to miss this one!

I received this book from the publisher, Viking, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

1066: What Fates Impose - G.K. Holloway

England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland. 

Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold.

Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?

What did I think?

Although it was never one of my favourite subjects at school, I've always had a keen interest in history.  I love reading and learning about the kings and queens of England but unfortunately the history syllabus at school was more concerned with the industrial revolution.  I've mainly read about post-Plantagenet kings and queens so an Anglo Saxon novel was something new for me.

We've all heard of the Battle of Hastings and I'm sure that many people will know this was in 1066.  Equally, we have all heard of King Harold and the arrow in his eye.  So I was really surprised, when reading this book, how little I actually knew about the Battle of Hastings and the events leading up to it.  It can get confusing at times as to who is who, but the author has very kindly listed all of the main characters at the beginning of the book.  This was an invaluable reference and I found that I frequently turned to it, mainly due to the Norse sounding names of this period.

The story begins in 1045 in the court of Edward the Confessor.  Edward is married to Edith of Wessex, but when they fail to produce an heir, due to Edward's famous piety, Edward names Edith's brother Harold as his successor.  This doesn't go down well with Edward's cousin's son, William (the Conqueror), and others who believe they have a claim to the English throne.  The story obviously ends in 1066 where the Battle of Hastings is laid out in such glorious detail that I almost felt as if I was watching the battle myself.  The strategies employed by each side and the sheer scale of the bloodiness gave us a 360 degree view of this famous battle.

The book feels so very well researched that I had no reason to doubt any of the facts therein.  Of course, records dating from this time are sketchy but with so much historical treachery and political intrigue surrounding the English throne I have no doubt that 1066: What Fates Impose is more fact than fiction.  

If you think King Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye, think the Battle of Stamford Bridge is a derby between Chelsea and Spurs, and think William the Conqueror was the only threat to King Harold's crown then you must read this book.  G. K. Holloway brings Anglo Saxon history to life in 1066: What Fates Impose and my knowledge of this period is now so much richer for having read it.  A tremendous 5 star read.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame: The Greatest Classical Music of All Time - Darren Henley, Tim Lihoreau, Sam Jackson

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame celebrates classical music's unique ability to stir the emotions of a listener - whether it's the haunting melodies of Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or Purcell'sDido and Aeneas; the passionately charged opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5; dramatic operas such as Puccini's La boheme; the moving sounds of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto; beautiful ballet scores from Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky; or blockbuster film soundtracks composed by John Williams and Howard Shore.

This new edition of the Sunday Times bestseller celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Classic FM Hall of Fame. With a fully updated chart of the nation's 300 favourite works, based on votes cast by millions of listeners over the past twenty years, a revised introduction and beautiful new illustrations, this definitive collection encompasses a rich variety of classical greats, contemporary masters, lesser-known treasures and outstanding British composers to provide a fascinating insight into our relationship with the music we love.

Darren Henley, Sam Jackson and Tim Lihoreau guide us through the world of classical music and the people responsible for creating and performing it. Combining fascinating histories and biographies, recommended recordings and the ranking of the 300 pieces themselves, this book is as relevant to a new listener discovering the joys of classical music as it is to long-time lovers of the genre. The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a beautifully illustrated testament to the enduring power of classical music to inspire, entertain, relax and invigorate us.

What did I think?

I admit it took me quite a while to read this cover to cover, but once I did I found that it will be a book I refer to time and time again.  It's almost like an encyclopedia of composers' best works - I just have to think of a composer and I can turn to their entry in the Hall of Fame to find out all about them.  To accompany the entries, there are some absolutely beautiful artistic depictions of some of the most well-known pieces of music.

Each piece of music has a little narrative describing it and its inspiration, along with where you might have heard it (such as Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet being the theme tune of The Apprentice and also the music that Sunderland, my football team, play when they run on to the pitch during home games).  The recommended recording to fully appreciate each piece is also stated along with the chart position.

There are so many interesting facts to learn in The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame - all of the best known classical composers have a dedicated page with their own mini biography and a 'Did You Know?' fact.  The most jaw-dropping moment for me was discovering that George Frideric Handel, of Messiah and Water Music fame, was a British citizen.

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a stunning companion to the Easter weekend top 300 chart and a book to refer to again and again.  It has reawakened my love for classical music as I remembered long forgotten pieces and found some new favourites.  Thanks to The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of FameI now tune in to Classic FM for my daily commute.

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday, 13 August 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Empathy Problem - Gavin Extence

Driven by money, power and success, Gabriel has worked ruthlessly to get to the very top of the banking game. He's not going to let the inconvenience of a terminal brain tumour get in his way.

But the tumour has other ideas. As it grows, it appears to be doing strange things to Gabriel's personality. Whether he likes it or not, he seems to be becoming less selfish, less mercenary, less unlikeable.

Once he could dismiss the rest of humanity as irrelevant. Now he's not so sure. Women, in particular, are becoming worryingly three-dimensional. And none more so than Caitlin, the 'unremarkable' girl he sees busking on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. When she plays her violin, Gabriel could almost believe that he has a soul...

But as each day that passes brings him closer to his last, has time run out for second chances?

What did I think?

This was actually a bit of a wake up call for me as I saw so much of myself in Gabriel - not his power and success but definitely putting work before health.  Getting the work life balance is something that many people have off to a tee but for the small number of workaholics out there it's something that is very difficult to do, even when you have a health scare.

Gabriel simply doesn't have time for a brain tumour, it will involve taking too much time off work.  Gabriel will allow absolutely nothing to interfere with his work, not even any treatment that might extend his life or make him more comfortable - treatment can be done on a Saturday, can't it?  (Anyone who knows me will be seeing the similarity to me right about now).  The brain tumour, however, does not love work as much as Gabriel.  As the tumour grows, Gabriel begins to experience emotions he didn't know he possessed and it causes him to make some very surprising decisions.

All of this is going on at the time of the anti-capitalism Occupy protests in London in 2011 to 2012 as thousands of people took to the streets to protest about inequality and corporate greed following the banking crisis.  Gabriel's luxury office overlooks the Occupy camp and he is in effect one of the bankers that they are protesting about.  As Gabriel's emotions start to change, he takes a walk through the square and hears the most beautiful music.  He is inexplicably drawn to Caitlin, a talented busker, who he then scarily stalks.  You could really feel him losing control of the rational part of his brain at this point.  His stalking actually proves useful when Caitlin is mugged and Gabriel, lurking behind in the shadows, challenges her attacker.  Caitlin and Gabriel strike up a friendship that is both hilarious and despondent as Gabriel tangles himself into a web of lies.

I'm not a big fan of politics and there's a large part of the storyline that's dedicated to the anti-capitalism protests, however, it wasn't overbearing.  There's enough going on with Gabriel's rainbow of emotions to hold the reader's interest.  It's so intriguing to see the experiencing of emotions that you or I may see as ordinary being shown as completely alien to Gabriel.  It's powerful and fascinating to see that, as human beings, we're all capable of feeling the same emotions but for some more than others they're buried so much deeper.

Having previously read The Mirror World of Melody Black, I find Gavin Extence to be a completely unique author.  His writing is so thought-provoking, engaging and witty that his books are impossible to put down.  I read The Empathy Problem in less than 24 hours but the story within will stay with me for a lot longer than that.  

I received this book from the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the Author:

Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife, children and cat. 

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