29 Jul 2016

Blog Tour: No Turning Back (A review)

The blurb:
She only wanted to save her daughter. 
She didn't mean to kill anyone...did she?

When radio presenter Anna Graves and her daughter are attacked on the beach by a crazed teenager, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.

But her life falls apart when the school boy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna's story, until the autopsy reveals something more sinister...

The evidence seems to connect Anna to a decades-old serial murder case. Is she really as innocent and she claims? And is killing ever justified, if it saves a child's life?

My thoughts:

I had no idea what to expect of No Turning Back when it arrived in the post. This is the first book of Tracy Buchanan's that I've read (I know, I'm terrible) and so I didn't really have much to go on, besides the blurb and the reassurance that Buchanan is a great writer. I think this actually worked in my favour, to be honest, as I was able to go in open minded with zero preconceived ideas.

The incident with Anna and the young boy who is killed, Elliot, happens within the first couple of chapters and instantly had me gripped and unable to wait for more. I was hooked straight away, tearing through this book in one sitting - I couldn't put it down!

In the beginning, I didn't really know what to think of Anna, her mental state and general well-being. As I delved further into the story I did find myself questioning her and her motives, not fully trusting her. I did have to keep reminding myself, however, that she had a traumatic experience and that isn't something you get over quickly, if ever.

I really enjoyed the little snippets from the 'Ophelia Killer' case throughout - I was so intrigued and couldn't wait to find out who it was and how the death of Elliot could be connected. I had so many different theories that it seemed to change with every chapter, I'm pretty sure I suspected everyone at some point even though I had absolutely no clue of what was happening and what was coming next. Having said that, I was gobsmacked when all was revealed - the plot twist (well, the last one) is so very clever and well thought out!

I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to give anything away and I think it is more enjoyable to read without any preconceptions. Tracy Buchanan has written a fantastic, thrilling psychological thriller here, keeping readers gripped from the onset - I would not hesitate in recommending this book (I've already thrust it in my sister's face) and I'm now going onto Amazon to purchase her other stories! 

Special thanks to Avon for sending me a review copy. You can buy No Turning Back here, follow Tracy on Twitter and say hello!

22 Jul 2016

The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane... by Ellen Berry

The blurb:

Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a very special little cookbook shop has just opened its doors...

Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn't an issue that 'Cooking with Aspic' can't fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled 'Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You'

On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world - and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.

But with her family convince it's a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she's made a terrible decision. One thing's for sure: she's about to find out...

My thoughts:

This story follows Della and her love of cookbooks, hundreds of which she inherited from her mother who recently passed away. She decides that she wants to do something with them, give them a new home, hence the opening of The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane..

To be honest, I found this story a little hard to get into - I think it was just a bit slow of start for me. Saying that though, after a few chapters I really started to enjoy Della's story and I loved getting to know her while on this journey.

Della is kind, strong, talented and really likeable, you will be rooting for her to succeed, even when things aren't going well for her she always keeps going and tries to see the positives. Her husband Mark, however, is grumpy and discouraging - not a person who should be with someone as bright and cheerful as Della. I found Della easy to relate to, mostly through her love of food but to me, it was like getting to know someone who lives down the road..

I absolutely loved the idea of a bookshop only for cookbooks, if a shop like that existed near me I'm pretty sure my friends would never see me again! The quirkiness of the shop and how it comes about really intrigued me, keeping me hooked until the end.. Ellen Berry's descriptions throughout are mouthwatering - don't read this story on an empty stomach!

I'm excited for the next instalments in the Rosemary Lane series, if this first chapter is anything to go by. The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane is definitely a delicious read! You can buy The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane here, and follow Ellen Berry (aka Fiona Gibson) on Twitter.


12 Jul 2016

Top 5: Films I Love to Re-watch

I haven't done a 'Top 5' post in a while so I thought I'd jump back into it with five of my favourite films to rewatch. You know the ones where you phsyically can't switch over the channel if you see it on TV? I'm a sucker for these five below, so much so that people in my life know to tell me if they see any of these around. I'm obsessed! You might have heard of/watched some or most of these but I just think they deserve the recognition as being fabulous...

#1 | How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days
One of the funniest romcom's you will ever watch. Period. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughy work so well as a pair and completely bounce off each other brilliantly in this movie. I find the concept of them playing against each other hilarious, and they pull it together so, so well! I first watched this with a friend when I was about 14 - afterward, I went straight out and bought it for myself. To this day, it is still on of my go-to movies when I'm feeling in need of a good laugh!

#2 | Man On Fire
I absolutely adore Denzel Washington as an actor and this film shows his talents fabulously. I would even go as far to say that this might be my favourite film ever? I just never ever get sick of watching it, talking about it, reading about it etc. It really keeps you hooked on the story from start to finish, with great acting and a beautiful setting! Dakota Fanning as a young girl in this is fascinating as well, the talent she puts out in this at only 11 years-old is incredible. 

#3 | Pride and Prejudice
A classic. I don't think Pride and Prejudice being on this list needs to be justified. My favourite adaption is the Kiera Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen one which was released in 2005. I think the beauty and elegance of the era really drew me in, but I really loved the feminist attitude of Keira's Lizzie Bennett and thought she portrayed the character really well. One of my favourite parts of this movie is at the end, when Mr. Darcy comes walking across the field towards Elizabeth - he stutters when they're talking and he says, "I love, I love, I love you.

#4 | Pretty Woman
Another classic, in my opinion. Pretty Woman was one of the first 'old person' films I remember watching growing up. Obviously at the time I had no idea of Vivian's profession, only that she was a bit down in the dumps. I think what I love about Pretty Woman is that its sort of a twist on the classic, girl meets boy, fairytale - life isn't easy for Vivian or Edward, and seeing them find happiness within each other is uplifting! Also, that singing in the bath scene is one of movie magic. Julia Roberts and Richard Gere at their very, very best. 

#5 | The Holiday
I love when it's coming up to Christmas time because The Holiday is never off TV. Every time I see it on, I have to watch it or record it, so I can watch later! Although this is one of my favourite films, it might be one of my mum's least favourite - purely for the fact that she gets sick of looking at it every year (oooops).. I think the combination of Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black is perfect for this movie - an odd mixture of actors but in my opinion, that's why it works so well. A definite must watch for me!

These are just five of the films that I could re-watch countless times. I'm one of those people who can re-watch movies, tv shows, or even read a book ten times, and never get sick of it. Its a bit of a bad habit really, I never give away books or DVDs on the off chance I'll want revisit the story! 

What are some of your go-to films that you can watch over and over? Or even TV series/books? Let me know so I can watch them too!

10 Jul 2016

Blog Tour: Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner

I'm so excited to be taking part in my first. ever. blog tour - how exciting! When I started blogging, I never really thought that anybody would be interested in what I had to say, but apparently I was wrong. There are a few people out there who actually like reading what I have to say - who knew? 

Enter the Starlight Diner... This hilarious ebook is by the lovely Helen Cox, published by Avon 4th July. I've never read a story like this - from the minute I started it, I couldn't put it down! As part of the blog tour for 'Starlight Diner', Helen has put together a guest post - a list of her favourite diners around the UK. Hopefully you might find a new favourite place to eat, or you may have already been to one! Let me know what you think...

Restaurants in the UK have become increasingly diverse in the past twenty years or so and this is great news! It means you don’t have to travel across the Atlantic in order to eat American Diner food. Below, I’ve suggested five diners on British soil you might like to visit. Some of them I’ve already experienced and some are on my wish-list because well, I’m writing a book series here so my research is sort of ongoing. Is that a convincing enough excuse to continue eating diner food? Yes it is! Don’t be mean.

1. In London, there’s a small chain of Good Life Diners (they had about nine branches on my last count) but my favourite branch is in Islington. I spent perhaps more time than I should have in there when I first met my husband as he rented a room nearby and I’m not a woman known for my will power. These diners all boast traditional booths and neon lighting, and have an extensive menu that includes everything from pancakes and hotdogs to cheesecakes and banana splits. Not one to miss if you find yourself in the capital.

2. The Smoke Haus in Swansea, as you might glean from the name, has a lot to offer people who are big fans of barbequed food. That said, the menu is pretty extensive and offers options for both vegetarians and vegans who also want to join in the diner-inspired fun. The Smoke Haus chain has two other branches in Cardiff and Birmingham and in each branch there’s an impressive liquor menu to work your way through.

3. If you’re in Edinburgh and enjoy American culture, the New York Steam Packet offers a twist on the American diner format. The restaurant is not set out with booths and has a ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ policy, but it also has a range of American-inspired decorations adorning the walls and offers an American menu with some Scottish dishes mixed in. Is this sounding a little odd? Well, it is but we prefer the term ‘original’ and it’s a little foodie adventure that’s well worth a look.

4. Pixie’s Diner on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough is, without a doubt, one of the most vibrant diners you’ll ever set foot in. Lined with bright red and turquoise booths, and complete with a traditional counter area, this is definitely one to visit if you find yourself in the North East.
In true American style, there’s even a food challenge set by the staff. Can you finish everything on your plate in less than 30 minutes? No drink. No help! Sounds a little bit daunting…

5. The last diner on the list is one I discovered only a few weeks ago while on the bus to Scarborough, as you do. Situated about two miles outside York, Huckleberry’s diner promises traditional American meals, Fifties-inspired decor and excellent service. The chain have two other branches on the outskirts of Leeds and Darlington and their restaurants have been featured in films and TV programmes. Seems about time I paid them a visit and found out what all of the fuss is about…

You can buy Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner here. Also, you can follow Helen on Twitter - make sure you say hello!

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