I'm Claire and I'm a voracious reader. I've loved books all my life and am lucky enough to have lots of time to devote to my favourite hobby - reading!
My favourite genres are crime, police procedural, psychological thriller, suspense, horror, mystery and paranormal; throw in a hint of romance and it'll tick another box. The type of genres I read has been widened considerably by accepting review requests from authors and publishers, so I'm happy to give almost anything a go!
Published by: 4Star Scifi (3rd July 2017)
Miles Goram has a problem. All the down-on-his-luck journalist planned on doing was writing a hotel review and now there’s a body in his bathroom. Far from home on a strange planet, Miles must deal with the fact that somebody wants him dead.
Welcome to Reevis, a planet without days or nights where life is only possible under a vast pressure dome. It is on this airless wasteland that Miles finds himself caught up in a mystery involving a huge interplanetary corporation, a powerful man and his ambitious PA, and a beautiful young heiress who has been missing for years.
Crossing the galaxy in search of answers, Miles begins to uncover a web of deceit that stretches further than anyone could have imagined. With his life becoming at greater and greater risk, he realises that there is no one he can trust. Will he discover the truth and finally come to terms with his past? And, if he does, will it be enough to save his future…?
I found Ribbonworld completely engrossing. This wonderful book so captivated me that I read it in virtually one sitting, only disturbed by a few hours of sleep. The author has such an attentive eye for detail, I was immediately drawn into Miles Goram's world of intrigue and confusion on Reevis. The starkness of the icy side of the planet and the boiling lava of the hot side are so beautifully depicted I felt as though I was viewing them myself. Every journey that Miles took on the surface of the planet, whether in a vehicle or on foot, had me feeling I was driving over those rocks or kicking up that dust myself.
Miles is a well rounded character. He has a somewhat complex background which we learned a few things about. His keen journalistic instinct to sniff out a story is well described, as is his personality. I'm hoping to find out more about him in the next book, Jungle Green. There are a lot of other characters in Ribbonworld, all with distinct personalities and added value to the storyline, which remained clear throughout.
Without giving anything away, I really like the way the book addressed power struggles. Although it's set on a different planet to ours, the events could easily translate to anywhere, at any time. I did guess a couple of things that were revealed later in the book, but that isn't really important. What I value above all else is whether a book can grab my attention and keep hold of it throughout. If a book can transport me to another place (Reevis in this case!) and make me unaware of my surroundings, then it has done what a book is meant to do!
I'm really looking forward to reading all about Miles Goram's next adventures in Jungle Green
NEW YEAR BOOK TAG
I saw a tweet today from @KatherineSunde3 (bibliomaniacUK) talking about book challenges - how many books read in a year and I thought I'd share her tweet and talk about how my challenge had gone this year too as its a good tag to take part in over this weekend.
This year has been a particularly rough year for me as I''ve somehow lost my reading mojo and subsequently managed to read less than 50 books. In previous years, I'd read upwards of 100 so although I do feel a bit disappointed in myself, I'm entering 2018 with a more positive frame of mind.
How many books are you planning to read in 2018?
I'm going to set myself the same target for 2018 as I did in 2017 - 52. Although I didn't quite achieve it this year, I feel it is achievable next year. Hopefully I'll far surpass it as my Netgalley shelf alone is immense, not to mention my physical bookshelves!
Name five books you didn't get to read this year but want to make a priority in 2018?
Name a genre you want to read more of?
I'd really like to read more sci-fi, maybe not the really heavy stuff, but books with a more light - hearted feel I could definitely appreciate.
Three non book related goals for 2018?
To continue on my weight loss journey and to hopefully achieve my target weight by this time next year.
To remain positive whatever life throws my way.
To try to achieve one thing each day that I am proud of.
What's a book you've had forever that you still need to read?
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
One word that you're hoping 2018 will be?
Tag a friend or two
Published by: 4Star Scifi (15th June 2017)
Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!
She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.
But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.
Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.
In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?
When I met author Richard recently at a blogger & author get-together in Exeter, he described Andorra Pett as 'Agatha Raisin in space' and that is exactly how she comes across - quirky, funny, likeable, with a sensitive side and a heart of gold, a habit of getting into trouble and most of all a need to put her supersleuthing into action! She's adorable! Aside from Andorra, all the characters are interesting and add value to the story, from Andorra's sidekick, best friend Cy, to diner owner Munro.
The book is intelligently written, professionally produced, and is a joy to read. The well thought out plot flows well, grabbing your attention and holding on tightly. There are twists and turns galore that I'd not foreseen. There is lots going on but it's so well managed that it doesn't become confusing. The complex relationships between characters add further layers to the darkness, and I love that it's all based on a mining station orbiting Saturn...this book satisfies both the crime thriller fan and the sci-fi geek in me all at once, which is fantastic! I can't wait to read Andorra's next adventures in Andorra Pett on Mars.
Self-published (29th January 2017)
Source: author provided review copy
Meet Amanda Wake, starting her new job. Her only requirement is to earn enough money to buy a coveted mobile phone. Seventeen and fresh from school, she dreams of a Mills and Boon love story developing between her and her new boss. Meet Mathew Mason, A successful businessman, and Amanda’s new employer. What Amanda doesn’t know is that Mathew has aspirations too. He has an unhealthy and immoral obsession with Amanda. The job was created so that he could have better access to her. Set over the course of sixteen years we follow their journey. Amanda’s life is plagued with many unfortunate twists and turns unbeknownst to her all due to Mathew’s intervention. A dark and disturbing suspense thriller that will have the reader screaming out for a book buddy just so they can discuss the plot. Not for the faint hearted, read Sculpting Amanda if you dare.
The description of this book is accurate. It's the story of Matthew's complete obsession with Amanda, to the point that he creates a job for her, organises certain things to happen and orchestrates turns of events that are at times more than a little far-fetched...but it is a work of fiction after all, so anything can happen!
There are several sexual scenes in the book that make for uncomfortable reading. I obviously cannot say why without giving any of the plot away, but I will say that I consider this book unsuitable for younger readers under the age of 14. These scenes are crucial to the story, however.
At the beginning of the book, Amanda is a very naïve seventeen year old but Matthew is more mysterious. We aren't given any real sense of background on either main character, but I don't feel it's really needed here as we learn all we need to during the sixteen years over which the book is set.
One main point I'd like to pick up on is the poor attention to detail throughout this book. The whole book, particularly the ending, feels very rushed, as though it's not been read through after being written. The spelling, grammar and punctuation is appalling. I realise not everyone can afford to have their work professionally proofread and edited, but all computers have a spellchecker! If this had been addressed, the book would feel so much more polished. It would also be easier to read, and the reviews would be so much better.
Having said that, there are some really good points here. The story grabbed my attention, I wondered what was going to happen next, and I didn't quite foresee that ending...not entirely! I'd be interested to read the author's next book at some point, and I'll definitely remember Sculpting Amanda!
Special thanks to Julie Sanford for providing an advanced review copy. This is my honest review.
Published by: Aria (1st November 2017)
1931: Fifteen year old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse. 1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown. With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.
I am a big fan of Jennifer's debut, The Liar, so I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to read this, her second book. The Murderess begins with teenager Kate seeing her mother push the stranger onto the train tracks. The story is narrated alternately by Kate and her mother Millicent. I found this way of getting the story across very effective. It gave me as a reader a chance to get to know what mother and daughter really thought about each other, throughout each aspect of the whole story.
This book is part historical fiction, part dark and twisty crime/psychological thriller. There are more than a few surprises, including the shocking ending! There were also things that really made me think. Jennifer writes with such intelligence, her books really are a pleasure to read. I'm looking forward to her third already!
Published by: Avon (5th October 2017)
When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.
Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night.
But some truths are better left alone . . .
I absolutely LOVED Sam's debut, Saving Sophie, so I'd been really looking forward to reading this, as soon as I'd finished reading that brilliant first book! I was really hoping Sam had lots more crackers up her sleeve and wouldn't suffer 'second album syndrome' (music is my first love!) You know, when a band has a phenomenal first album and then their second is sadly lacking that certain something that made you sit up and take notice? Anyway...I digress...and a cracker this certainly is! It's on fire!
Bad Sister is full of rich, interesting characters that leap to life off the page. Connie is fascinating and I want to go to the pub with her! Lindsay Wade is another great character, and I adore the way her and Connie interact. I hope they appear again in future books by this author as I'd love to see their relationship develop further.
The case itself is complex and disturbing and there are more than a few shocks, twists and turns, including one right at the end, which made me gasp out loud! There is plenty to get your teeth into, with flashbacks told via 'then', and present day events via various viewpoints. There is a lot going on here, but with the author's skilful writing, there's no chance to get confused; you're led exactly where you're meant to be.
Had me on the edge of my seat, got my pulse racing, and kept me guessing...ticked every box!
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks to Avon and Sam Carrington.
Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)
Vegan, whole food recipes that will help families ditch processed meals by taking the hassle out of cooking!
Published by: The Experiment (13th January 2017)
In But I Could Never Go Vegan!, Kristy Turner proved that anyone can do it - with recipes that overturn common excuses, from "Vegan cooking is too hard" to "I could never give up cheese!" But cooking vegan for the whole family presents its own challenges ...or does it? Now, the 125 recipes in But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! will leave even the most skeptical relatives begging for more. Like its predecessor, each chapter tackles a different objection: Don't have time to cook elaborate dinners? Try an easy weeknight solution: Quick Cauliflower Curry. Worried about satisfying the "meat and potatoes" eaters? Try Lazy Vegan Chile Relleno Casserole. Cooking for picky eaters? Try the ever-adaptable BLT Spring Rolls with Avocado. Turner's cheeky, inviting tone and satisfying, easy-to-follow recipes make it more possible than ever for families to dine happily together!
This book is perfect for the newly vegan. The chapter headings are humerous and engaging, and the dishes are delicious and filling, enough to turn even the most carnivorous member of the family! There are meals to suit every time of day, from breakfast to supper, and everything in between, from light bites to full on meals, all your favourites veganised.
I received an advanced egalley from The Experiment via Netgalley.
Published by: Workman Publishing (13th October 2017)
Sheet Pan Suppers is back! This time, with 100 vegetarian recipes for satisfying, sumptuous full meals-all made on a sheet pan, and all meat-free. It's the one-pot meal reinvented with a healthy twist, and what is sure to become every busy cook's new favourite way of getting dinner on the table. There are recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch, and even dessert, that require nothing more than a sheet pan, your oven, and Raquel Pelzel's inspired take on satisfying, delectable, vegetarian cooking. Recipes include Orzo with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, and Mozzarella; Loaded Chilaquiles with Baked Eggs; Super Creamy No-Boil Mac and Cheese; and more.
I was really interested to try some of the recipes in here as it seemed so easy to just pop the ingredients on a baking tray and stick them in the oven. Was it really that simple? Erm...no not really! Some of the recipes required you to put foil (which I don't like using) between the tray and your ingredients, which made me just want to abandon the whole tray idea and just use a pan on the hob. Then when it came to stir part-way through the cooking time, the ingredients were stuck to the foil, so it ripped. Using spray oil instead of foil would have been a whole lot easier! For some, using your own initiative when it comes to preparation makes it easier.
A lot of these recipes are great, for example the orzo with tomatoes and carrots with garam masala, but a lot rely heavily on dairy and eggs, so would not be suitable for anyone following a vegan diet or with high cholesterol. There is plenty of variety here for most , and many easily adaptable with a bit of thought.
I received an advanced egalled from Workman Publishing via Netgalley.
Published by: Storey Publishing (1st August 2017)
From Currant-Pumpkin-Oat Scones to Chicken-Pumpkin Tacos, Pumpkin-Filled Ravioli with Fried Sage, Ginger-Pumpkin Ice Cream, and of course (seven!) pies, this comprehensive cookbook reminds us that the iconic symbol of fall is so much more than jack-o'-lantern material. These 139 recipes offer diverse and delicious options for enjoying pumpkin and other winter squash, such as butternut, acorn, and kabocha, year-round. With recipes for many forms of pumpkin, including both fresh and canned pumpkin puree, and inspired by world cuisines, the versatility of this superfood shines through in snacks, drinks, salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts.
I love pumpkin and squash and relish this time of year. In fact, I think it's such a shame to see all the pumpkins that just get carved for Halloween and discarded, when all that yumminess could've been used for so many different recipes.
This is a fantastic book. It's full of different ways to use pumpkins and squashes to create delicious savoury and sweet dishes. Wild mushroom pumpkin risotto and chocolate pumpkin brownies are particular favourites, although I do love the soups too.
The comforting dishes are prefect for the autumn and winter seasons here in the the UK and I'm sure many of them will become familiar favourites in my kitchen.
I received an advanced egalley from Storey Publishing via Netgalley on a voluntary basis.
Published by: BebBella Books (14th September 2017)
Marrying traditional wisdom and modern scientific and medical research, a vegan macrobiotic approach recognizes the profound effects food, environment, activities, and attitude can have on your physical and emotional health. Drawing upon traditional and contemporary cuisines from around the globe, The One Peaceful World Cookbook: Over 150 Vegan, Macrobiotic Recipes for Vibrant Health and Happiness shows you how to prepare delicious, satisfying meals that nourish your body and mind.
Based on the authors’ decades-long experience as teachers, dietary counselors, and chefs, on scientific and medical studies documenting the health benefits of a vegan macrobiotic way of eating, and on other cutting-edge research on health, vitality, and fitness, this book features 150-plus easy-to-follow recipes, including:
These gourmet recipes, both savory and sweet, are designed for an on-the-go lifestyle and will both nourish and delight you. The One Peaceful World Cookbook empowers you with the tools and recipes you need on your path to optimal health and well-being.
In addition to offering over 150 delicious recipes, The One Peaceful World Cookbook explains macrobiotics in a clear and simple way that even made sense to me! There is also a comprehensive list of ingredients at the beginning. Although I've been following a vegan diet for 2 years, some of these were unfamiliar to me, so it was really helpful to find out what exactly kombu was, for example.
A lot of the recipes use some of the same ingredients, so it's good to know that your bottle/packet of x/y/z that you have sourced won't be used once and then go out of date lingering in the back of the cupboard/fridge.
Many of the recipes I think will become staples in my house as they are quick and cheap to make and based on grains with a few extras.
The recipes are explained clearly and concisely and the pictures are realistic.
Self-published (6th March 2017)
This is the true story (with a little fiction thrown in) of how hiring a Finnish au pair as part of a reality show wreaked havovc on Emma's quiet family life in Vancouver. All she wanted was a little help with her kids...
The idea behind Defending Rebecca caught my attention as I love stories with some truth behind them, and the idea of an au pair and a film crew had endless possibilities for disaster! I really like Emma. She came across as such a warm and generous person. She seemed to have a genuine reason for wanting to take part in the programme in the first place, to have an au pair to help her with the children. She seemed to really want to like Rebecca too. She seemed to be pushed and pulled this way and that by all the people in her life and I felt a bit sorry for her.
Rebecca is an odd character. I really couldn't work her out, which I secretly like.
The children are brilliant characters, especially Ryland.
I like the way the story flows and the character interaction is great. It feels natural and the amount of observation is fantastic. This novella is funny in places, and at the end of the story I was left wanting to read more.
Published by: Nourish Books (21st September 2017)
Adele McConnell brings a fresh, inspired look to plant-based food, showing just how satisfying, dynamic and undeniably delicious contemporary vegan cooking can be. The beautifully photographed recipes make the most of a wide variety of fresh ingredients, drawing inspiration from cuisines around the world to help you create healthy, balanced meals effortlessly. McConnell proves once and for all that there’s no need to sacrifice flavor to eat animal-free. She creates her stylish, mouth-watering dishes with innovative techniques and nutrient-packed ingredients, including whole grains and protein sources such as pulses, nuts, tempeh and tofu. From Mushroom & Roasted Beetroot Polenta Nests to Chinese Spring Onion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce, you’ll find dishes that will tempt both part-time and fully-committed vegans alike. Complete with 100 inspiring, easy-to-follow recipes, The Vegan Cookbook isn’t merely about creating great meat-free food, it’s about
There's a lot to love about this handy little cookbook. At the beginning, Adele lists lots of the main ingredients that are essential for a healthy vegan diet and details just what is so important about them and what the health benefits are. There are instructions on preparing your own basics, such as nut milks and butters, how to prepare and also how to cook tempeh and tofu and a whole host of other ingredients, as well as lots of other really handy tips. What I REALLY love is that there is not a single piece of pretend meat mentioned anywhere. No mention of that Q word either!
What I'm not so keen on is the amount oil used in some of the recipes, although I am on a weight loss programme at the moment, so that is influencing my thoughts! There aren't photos for every recipe, which doesn't really bother me. I tend to find food photos in cookbooks rather unrealistic as a rule, so not having something to aspire to is fine by me! The recipes I've tried, I really enjoyed and I'll be using again. I've got many more yet to try, including some rather delicious sounding pumpkin ones for Halloween!
Special thanks to Nourish for providing the ARC in return for my unbiased review.
Published by: Hoddor & Stoughton (5th October 2017)
There are many things people don't know about me and maybe when they read about those things they will have an understanding of the journey I have been on and why I've made the mistakes I have.
Nothing that has happened in my adult life makes much sense if you don't know what life was like for me growing up. I have to go back to the boy, because he can tell you a lot more than I can...
In this book James shares his struggles with mental health issues which led to drug-abuse, and how he dealt with the feelings of intense pressure and loneliness that accompanied his sudden rise to fame. Back to the Boy gives an insight into the life of one of the most exciting musicians of today, and how his experiences are reflected in the blend of raw emotion and passion in his music. This is a story of hope and self-discovery to inspire those who have ever hit rock-bottom and managed to pick themselves up again.
Wow. Just...wow! Back to the Boy is unputdownable! I read it cover to cover in one sitting, and was utterly transfixed. 2012 X Factor winner and Sane mental health ambassador, James Arthur, really does bare his soul in this refreshingly honest and unflinchingly raw account of his life thus far. A rags-to-riches story you may have heard before, but this one is quite different. This one made me sit up and take notice. Now it all makes sense. The behaviour. The drugs. Everything.
The candid account of life as a young boy and the struggles as an adult trying to cope with mental health issues make for uncomfortable reading at times and can certainly stir up emotions you may not even be aware are there. I found this so insightful, as a fan and as a reader too. I just want to give James a great big hug. I'm seeing him live (for the second time) next month, so you never know...maybe I'll get the opportunity!
If you, or someone close to you has mental health issues, depression, anxiety, panic attacks...you need to read this book, or buy it for them! The book is intelligently written, flows well and has enough high points to balance out the low. I think James's openness in Back to the Boy could help a great many people who are struggling, and it would also make the perfect gift for every James Arthur fan. #JArmy