Book Review – Bald is Beautiful by Carole Schmidt

Genre: Children’s Book

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis
Bald is Beautiful: A letter for a fabulous girl is an inspiring and lovely illustrated letter for girls of any age who will go or already are bald. It’s a perfect gift to send love to a powerful girl who needs to be reminded of how beautiful and loved she is. It’s not a book that explains scientific conditions, disease, and treatment. It’s about love, beauty, happiness, and friendship when going through various changes in our lives.

My Thoughts
I was on a tour on social media for this powerful and moving children’s book recently. The wonderful people at Blackberry Book Tours approached me to review this story as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.

This book is written in the style of a letter to any young girl who is losing their hair, whatever the reason. It never specifies in the story as to why a child may be going through hair loss and it approaches the subject in a lighthearted but sensitive way.

It is beautifully illustrated and it compliments the text perfectly. It is an inspiring read that will make young children who are going through such a tough time feel like they can conquer anything. It sends out such a positive message and acknowledges how there will be tough times but you will power through and be ok.

I would say this book is perfect for ages 4-10 as it is mainly a picture book and it has only short sentences in it. 

I looked through the book with my young daughters so they can see how some girls go through some awful illnesses and how it is nice to treat them the same, and that every one is beautiful no matter what they look like.

Bald is powerful,
Bald is feminine,
Bald is delicate,
Bald is beautiful,
Bald is lovely,
Bald is strong.

Thanks again to Blackberry Book Tours and the author for organising this tour and creating awareness.

Book Review – False Truth by C.D Steele

Genre: Crime/Thriller

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis
Private Investigator and former MI6 agent Joe Wilde is hired by Sally Devlin to investigate her son’s disappearance. Liam Devlin was a rising football star. His car was found abandoned at Lea Bridge in Hackney, a known suicide spot, six weeks prior. With help from friend and retired MI6 Data Technician Mark Thompson, Joe uncovers a huge secret in Liam’s life. Putting the pieces together, he starts to suspect that this case is far more complex than he originally envisioned. Falling ever deeper into his own investigations, Joe meets with the detective in charge of the case, D. I. Carl Whatmore, who does not take kindly to Joe getting involved. As Joe and D. I. Whatmore go head-to-head in their own investigations, more lives are put in danger. But who will crack the case? Only time will tell…

My Thoughts
False Truth is the first in a series following a former MI6 agent and current Private Investigator called Joe Wilde. It is quite a short book at around 200 pages long, but it is a book that kicks off with a lot of action straight away, so you can easily read it in a couple of sittings.

I could not put it down! It was an exciting, twisty, puzzling and pulse racing read that will keep you guessing right until the end. There is a dark, menacing atmosphere that is created throughout the story that makes you feel tense reading it as you know something bad is going to happen!

Joe Wilde, as the main protagonist is an interesting character, but I felt like I wanted to know a bit depth to him and know more about his history. Especially as a former MI6 agent. He must have some stories to tell! Though I particularly loved the action scenes he is involved in, and the style of writing will keep your eyes glued to the pages.

As a debut novel, it has made me keen to want to read more from the author in the future. I love a crime thriller that engages you from the start and is fast paced like this one. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Thanks again to the author for sending me a copy of the book. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend this for readers who love a crime mystery to solve.

Book Review – This Much Huxley Knows by Gail Aldwin

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

My Thoughts

This Much Huxley Knows is not normally the type of book I would pick up. When the author approached me to review her book I also wasn’t accepting many review requests. However, when I read the synopsis and a few reviews that people had written, it seemed to jump out at me and say, I need to read this! I am so glad I did.

It may be because I have two young children. One of them is Huxley’s age too so I felt like I could connect to the story and immediately I did. A lot of the things Huxley thought and said were exactly the types of things my girls would say. It was also the first book in ages that has made me smile.

It is a lighthearted, funny story all about trust, friendship and family. You read everything from Huxley’s perspective so you are seeing the world through a young child’s eyes. The way children think and talk is so innocent and without any filter, and the author manages to write as Huxley perfectly!

The story touches on some sensitive issues and every day gossip that children may overhear from adults. Hearing this gossip through a young boy’s point of view is hilarious but at times damaging too. It shows you that sometimes children are more in the right than adults are. Huxley overhears things that are related to politics and racial prejudice so it does touch on some tougher themes.

It is a compassionate and uplifting read that has really touched my heart. Thanks to the author for approaching me to review this book. I am so happy I agreed to review it. 

About The Author

A writer of novels, poems and short fiction, Gail Aldwin is also a member of 3-She a comedy sketch writing trio. When she’s not busy at her computer, Gail reads contemporary fiction, women’s fiction and literary novels. She tries to emulate the writing of authors she admires, such as Helen Dunmore and Anne Tyler.

‘The String Games’, Gail’s debut coming-of-age novel was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, her children’s picture book ‘Pandemonium’ was published. Her second contemporary novel for adults ‘This Much Huxley Knows’ uses a young narrator to show adult experiences in a new light.

Prior to Covid-19, Gail volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around the place, she writes at her home in Dorset. (Goodreads)

Book Review – Frontline by Dr Hilary Jones

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis
Grace is the daughter of landed gentry, volunteering as a nurse on the Western Front.
Will is the son of a dockworker, driven to enlist by patriotism and the thrill of adventure.
When their lives collide in a field hospital in France, an instant connection is forged admist the chaos and blood of the battlefront.
But as rumours of an armistice begin to circulate, so does a mysterious virus, carrying with it an unimaginable death toll across the globe…

My Thoughts
Frontline is a moving piece of historical fiction set in WW1 that is a first in a new series about a medical family.

The main characters were written brilliantly, with lots of depth, and they all went through some great character development that was interesting to read. I was always eager to find out what would happen next to all of them.

From reading about the nurses points of view as well as the soldiers made it a bit different to other books I have read set in the war. The medical staff are usually rarely touched on regarding what they had to go through, whereas this book explores that in detail. The devastating events that they experienced were explained poignantly, in a manner which was sensitive and also touching. The nurses, stretcher bearers and doctors witnessed some horrific sights and then trying to be there to comfort these brave young men was very moving. I felt so much admiration towards them all.

The insightful research surrounding WW1 and the Spanish Influenza was very compelling. Due to the author’s medical background, the explanations of the injuries these poor soldiers suffered were written in a way that was quite vivid without being overly shocking. The treatment the medical staff used to heal the injured was also intriguing to learn about.

Overall this story is an absorbing and powerful tale all about the power of family, friends, love and hope. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Thank you to Maddie at Welbeck Publishing for sending me a gifted copy and for letting me join in with the book tour.

About The Author

Dr Hilary Jones qualified from The Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, in 1976. He is the resident health and medical editor on ITV’s Daybreak and Lorraine, and regularly appears on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show and Talksport to discuss medical matters. He writes a weekly column for the Sun’s Fabulous magazine, is a regular contributor to Rosemary Conley magazine and still practises as a NHS and Private GP.

Book Review – The House On The Strand by Daphne du Maurier

Genre: Classic

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Synopsis

Dick Young is lent a house in Cornwall by his friend Professor Magnus Lane. During his stay he agrees to serve as a guinea pig for a new drug that Magnus has discovered in his biochemical researches. The effect of this drug is to transport Dick from the house at Kilmarth to the Cornwall of the 14th century. There, in the manor of Tywardreath, the domain of Sir Henry Champernoune, he witnesses intrigue, adultery and murder. The more time Dick spends consumed in the past, the more he resents the days he must spend in the modern world. With each dose of the drug, his body and mind become addicted to this otherworld, so much so that he ignores the responsibilities of his present life and places his marriage, livelihood and life in jeopardy.

My Thoughts 

After reading the great books, My Cousin Rachel, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, this sadly did not live up to my expectations. It had a plot that went nowhere and the main character, Dick, who can I just add has a name that is very apt, was very unlikeable. This is a thing I have noticed a lot with the main male characters in Daphne’s novels. The men are never characters I have taken to and are very irritating!

The writing is however, very descriptive and immersive but at times it was too much and went into too much description of the landscape when I wanted something more exciting to be happening in the plot. 

I didn’t hate this book, it just was an ok read for me. It had parts where it felt like it was picking up but then something would occur that then made my mind wander. I never felt gripped and I was relieved when it ended. Maybe I just didn’t like how this book was more fantasy based when I prefer Daphne’s more gothic, atmospheric books. 

If you want to read one of Daphne’s books for the first time, I would recommend not picking this one up as it doesn’t show you how wonderful a writer she really was. 

About The Author

Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning, DBE was an English author and playwright. Although she is classed as a romantic novelist, her stories have been described as “moody and resonant” with overtones of the paranormal. Her bestselling works were not at first taken seriously by critics, but have since earned an enduring reputation for narrative craft. Many have been successfully adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn, and the short stories The Birds and Don’t Look Now/Not After Midnight. Du Maurier spent much of her life in Cornwall, where most of her works are set. As her fame increased, she became more reclusive. Her parents were actor/manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and stage actress Muriel Beaumont. Her grandfather was writer and cartoonist George du Maurier. (Wikipedia)

Book Review – Malibu Rising by Tara Jenkins Reid

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Contemporary

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

My Thoughts
Taylor Jenkins Reid has fast become one of my favourite authors. I adored Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, and now this has joined them as another book of hers that I loved. There is something intoxicating about Taylor’s writing. She draws me in from the first line of every book, and I can easily binge read them all.

This is brimful of showbiz glamour but alongside pure grit, raw emotion and lots of layers and depth to the storyline. The first half of the book is at a slow pace and gives you more of a background to the main characters in the story. But the second half is more chaotic and dramatic. It has lots of strong themes such as drug use, suicide, family estrangement, sexuality and much more.

The family relationships are written superbly and the females particularly I really admired. Nina especially! Her character progression was brilliant to read especially when it is only through a 24hr period.

I definitely need to read more of Taylor’s backlog of books as I am sure I am missing out if these last three of hers are anything to go by!

This book is a Malibu dream that sweeps you away into a compelling, heart wrenching story.  If you love a family drama that packs a punch then this is the book for you.

About The Author

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, as well as One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Her newest novel, Malibu Rising, is out now. She lives in Los Angeles.

Book Review – Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Genre: Classic/Children’s Classics

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis 

‘I had sent my heroine straight down a rabbit-hole … without the least idea what was to happen afterwards,’ wrote Lewis Carroll, describing how Alice was conjured up one ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 to entertain his child-friend Alice Liddell. His dream worlds of nonsensical Wonderland and the back-to-front Looking Glass kingdom depict order turned upside-down: a baby turns into a pig, time is abandoned at a disorderly tea-party and a chaotic game of chess makes a seven-year-old girl a Queen. But amongst the anarchic humour and sparkling word play, puzzles and riddles, are poignant moments of nostalgia for lost childhood.

My Thoughts

I read this as part of a readalong organised by the fabulous @abookandacuppa on Instagram last month, as Alice was August’s Book Box pick. It was great to revisit this old classic. It had been such a long time since I had read it so it was like reading it for the first time all over again. It was brilliant to also have all the themed drinks, sweets, bookmarks and wax melts to accompany me on my trip to Wonderland that were included in my book box from @abookandacuppa 

Now any of you that have read this book know that it is pretty crazy. The characters in it make no sense whatsoever and they all are very odd! You have well known names that feature such as The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit, The Cheshire Cat,The Caterpillar and so many many more. It is full of nostalgia, humour and fun. 

The world Carroll created is magical and beautifully imaginative. It probably has some of the best quotes ever written or at least the most well known! “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” had always been my favourite.

Carroll suffered from a rare neurological disorder that caused strange hallucinations and affected the size of objects, which can make the sufferer feel bigger or smaller than they are. As you know that is a big theme in the book! It explains how the whole book comes across as like a drug fuelled high! 

But what a light hearted, enchanting read this book is. Thanks to @abookandacuppa for the stunning Penguin English Library Edition and all the beautiful treats. 

About The Author

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English writer of children’s fiction, notably Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. He was noted for his facility with word play, logic, and fantasy. The poems “Jabberwocky” and The Hunting of the Snark are classified in the genre of literary nonsense. He was also a mathematician, photographer, inventor, and Anglican deacon. (Wikipedia)

Book Review – The Rookery by Deborah Hewitt

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars 

Synopsis 

When Alice discovered this alternate London, her life changed forever. She discovered she was seeing Nightjars – miraculous birds that guard our souls. But her newfound magic has a dark side. So in an effort to protect her friends, Alice is training to wield her rare abilities under House Mielikki – the House of Life. Yet something isn’t right. And after a series of attacks leaves her reeling, it’s clear someone wants her to fail.

Alice must plunge into a world of seductive magic and unimaginable perils to uncover the conspiracy. And when she discovers why the Rookery itself is at risk, she realizes the price she must pay to save it.

My Thoughts

I officially now have a new favourite series of books after finishing reading The Rookery. 

The first book, The Nightjar which was the first book in the duology was unbelievably fantastic, I cannot recommend it enough. The Rookery was just as amazing!! It was exciting, thrilling, pulse racing and dazzling. 

The writing is just perfection. I was completely sucked in from the start to the end. The characters were interesting, particularly Crowley and the main protagonist Alice. Alice was a very well developed character who at times was frustrating, making some very daft decisions, but it made her feel more real and flawed. She is definitely not the perfect heroine that you sometimes get a lot of in this genre. Alice had a dark side to her magical abilities that she had to battle to control. 

The world building is explained vividly and felt very authentic. You feel like you are actually there living through these adventures with Alice. It has such dark academia vibe, and it reminded me of Harry Potter at times with the different houses with the members who all had specific gifts. The magic system works so well in this alternate London and it was just such a joy to read. 

If you love atmospheric, immersive and quirky fantasy books then I urge you to read these books. You are missing out! 

Thanks to Black Crow PR and Tor Books for the gifted copy. This book is out now!

About The Author

Deborah lives in the UK, somewhere south of Glasgow and north of London. She’s the proud owner of two brilliant boys and one very elderly dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching her boys play football in a muddy field, or teaching in her classroom. Occasionally she cooks. Her family wishes she wouldn’t. The Nightjar is her first book and The Rookery her second. (Amazon)

Book Review – Hoglets’ Christmas Magic by Lynette Cresswell

Genre: Children’s Book

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis
It’s Christmas Eve with the hoglets.
Prickles and Primrose are excited. That is until… As they decorate the Christmas tree they discover the star for the top has shattered. Not to be defeated – the brave hoglets set out into the woods to seek a substitute star but stumble across Santa instead. What adventure will they encounter?
AND… what about the star?
If you love Winnie the Pooh you’ll fall in love with the hoglets, Prickles and Primrose, from Briar Wood.

My Thoughts
We may only be the Autumn, but with Christmas is getting very close so I don’t think it is too early for Christmas stories! Not for my children anyway!

The lovely author of this gorgeous book kindly approached me to read and review this book with my girls. We sat down and had a cosy evening reading this recently. It was such a lovely book to read as a family about two little hedgehogs who save a little girl’s Christmas and their own.

It is a magical, heart warming story that is perfect for children age 6 and above to read. It will be great for all the family to read together especially on the run up to the festive season. The illustrations are beautiful and colourful, my daughters who are ages 5 and 7 liked pointing at the pictures and talking about what was on them.

The cute hedgehogs in the story are adorable and the girls loved them. They especially loved that Santa was featured in the book! The hedgehogs little adventure was such a delight to read about and I look forward to reading this all over again during the Christmas period.

This fantastic children’s book is now published and I definitely recommend it and it deserves all the stars!!

Thanks again to Lynette for sending me a e-copy of the book. We all had the best time reading it.

About The Author

Lynette was born in London, but raised in Burnley, Lancashire. From the tender age of five she lived with her grandmother who gave her books to keep her quiet. Lynette found she had a passion for reading and started writing once she began school.
Her first novel Sinners of Magic won her acclaim and the story soon turned into a trilogy. With readers begging for more Lynette ended the series with a spin off story featuring a windigo. Wishing to be a multi-genre author, Lynette turned her pen to romance. Her two novels: Cracks in the Glass and Two Kinds of Truth were a huge hit with readers.  Lynette lives in North East Lincolnshire with her husband. All her grandchildren are the apple of her eye.(lynetteswebsiteblog.com)

Book Review and Blog Tour – The Winter Garden by Alexandra Bell

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Rating : 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

On the night her mother dies, 8-year-old Beatrice receives an invitation to the mysterious Winter Garden. A place of wonder and magic, filled with all manner of strange and spectacular flora and fauna, the garden is her solace every night for seven days. But when the garden disappears, and no one believes her story, Beatrice is left to wonder if it were truly real.

Eighteen years later, on the eve of her wedding to a man her late father approved of but she does not love, Beatrice makes the decision to throw off the expectations of Victorian English society and search for the garden. But when both she and her closest friend, Rosa, receive invitations to compete to create spectacular pleasure gardens – with the prize being one wish from the last of the Winter Garden’s magic – she realises she may be closer to finding it than she ever imagined.

Now all she has to do is win.

My Thoughts

Welcome to my stop on this wonderful book tour! If you are looking for a magical, mesmerising read to snuggle under a cosy blanket during the forthcoming colder months, well this is definitely the book for you.

The Winter Garden is an enchanting and touching read about loss and how your dreams can come true. But maybe not in the way you would expect. . .

This talented author writes in such a beautiful and luxurious way that she will draw you in instantly and tug at your heart strings. The two main characters Beatrice and Rosa I connected to straight away, even though they are at times unlikeable. You read from both of their perspectives and also through letters they write to each other. They both go through some very upsetting events that will make you feel quite emotional.

The exquisite and alluring descriptions of the Victorian magical gardens are such a treat to read about with talk of the sparkling, wintery landscapes, the magical and fantastical animals, the mysterious Spider Queen. Your imagination will be swept away in this immersive and remarkable tale. I honestly adored every single page of this extraordinary and thought provoking book.

Thank you to Alice at Del Rey for sending me this gorgeous proof for review and for having me on the tour. The Winter Garden is out now.

About The Author

Alexandra Bell was born in 1986. She studied Law at university and signed her first book deal at nineteen. Since then, she has written books for both adults and young people, including the Zoella Bookclub pick, Frozen Charlotte, and The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club series, under the name Alex Bell. She lives in Hampshire in a house ruled by Siamese cats.

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