Blog Tour Book Review – Finding Jess

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Time to review the final part of the trilogy! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a copy of book one, Drumbeats, if you haven’t already. Details at the bottom of the post.

Finding Jees by Julia Ibbotson

The Blurb

Single mother, Jess, has struggled to get her life back on track after the betrayal of her beloved husband and her best friend. When she is on the brink of losing everything, including her family and her job, she feels that she can no longer trust anyone. Then she is sent a mysterious newspaper clipping of a temporary post back in Ghana. Could this be her lifeline? Can Jess turn back time and find herself again? And what, exactly, will she find?

Finding Jess is a passionate story of love, betrayal and second chances – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.

What I Thought

Yay – Jess finally makes it back to Africa for some of this book which I was really excited about. After seeming to lose herself in the last book, I was pleased to start seeing some of the Jess from back in book one.

At the beginning of the book we find Jess still struggling. Now a single mother, it wasn’t quite as simple as leaving her husband and being happy again. When she finds herself back in Ghana I feel like we see Jess back where she belongs, her spiritual home. Of course, she now has the added worry of her daughters back home in England so it isn’t quite as simple as that.

I felt a little sad at the end of the book. Following Jess throughout her journey in life over three books has been a wonderful experience and I will miss her. These books are a trilogy but can be read as standalones. The third book includes passages from the first two, which were the only bits I found a little tedious. They would be perfect for people who haven’t read the other books in the series, or if you don’t read them all in one go like I did, as they remind you of the story, but I wanted to get to what Jess was up to now. This is literally the only niggle I had with it though!

This final book doesn’t let the series down and was a joy to read. I would highly recommend the whole series to any fiction fans.

Where To Buy

Purchase Link

The Author – Julia Ibbotson

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then a university lecturer and researcher. Finding Jess (2018) is her sixth book and the last of the Drumbeats trilogy (which begins and ends in Ghana). Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.

Social Media Links

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Pinterest (includes boards with pics and images that inspired each book)

Goodreads

Giveaway

Win a copy of Drumbeats (book 1 which I reviewed here), book marks, post cards, key ring and handbag fob (UK only)

ENTER HERE

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Good luck with the giveaway, let me know if you enter in the comments below. Have you checked out the reviews of the other two books in the trilogy? Find them by clicking these links

Book 1 – Drumbeats

Book 2 – Walking In The Rain

Thankyou to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on this blog tour. I received these books in return for my honest opinion. Check out other reviews at the blogs listed

Children’s Book Reviews

Good morning! Today I wanted to share with you a selection of children’s books we have recently read. I absolutely love reading with my children and encouraging them to enjoy books. Both my boys have inherited my passion for reading which I am so happy to see!

The Cow Said Neigh! by Rory Feek

The Blurb

From New York Times bestseller Rory Feek, one half of the singing duo Joey+Rory, comes The Cow Said Neigh!, a fun and humorous tale of farm animals who wish they were like the other animals . . . which leads to a farm-full of confusion! This delightful book will be a family favorite for years to come.

The Cow Said Neigh! is the story of some peculiar farm animals who wish they were like other animals on the farm. The cow wants to run free like a horse, the sheep wants a snout like a pig, the dog wants to be inside like the cat. Soon the entire farm is in chaos!

With silly farm animal sounds, clever rhymes, and adorable art, The Cow Said Neigh! will have kids of all ages laughing out loud as they celebrate the unique strengths in each of us.

This delightful picture book is sure to be read time and time again.

What I Thought

A great book that young children will love. I really enjoy books for this age that rhyme and this one has some really lovely illustrations to go with it. Perfect for little ones who are learning farm animals names and sounds. Perfect bedtime reading!

Where To Buy

Faithgateway Store

Clean Up, Up, Up! by Ellen Mayer

The Blurb

It is cleanup time, and Daddy and his little one are putting away books, blocks, teddy bears, and train cars, washing hands, and preparing for dinner—all while having fun with math! As Daddy talks with his toddler, he uses spatial-relationship math words and phrases like up, down, inside, outside, next to, and under to reinforce his young learner’s understanding. When it is dinnertime, the little one proudly demonstrates an understanding of down when helping to set the table and up while enjoying the first delicious bite!

A playful story that models engaging conversations between parent and child, Clean Up, Up, Up! includes a note by early childhood education expert Susan C. Levine that shows parents and caregivers how everyday activities offer rich opportunities to teach early spatial math concepts.

What I Thought

This is great for learning about positional language (up, down, under etc) and will help encourage and give ideas for tidy up time. The interaction between the parent and child in the story is lovely. The text is in both Spanish and English which I love to see. It also has notes for parents about reading the book and how to extend your child’s learning from it.

Where To Buy

Ellen Mayer website with links to buy

Spacekid iLK by Andrew Hammond

The Blurb

iLK is a Glubwark from the planet Glub and his dad has just invaded Earth.

iLK isn’t keen on being involved in the invasion, but his dad, BiLK, quickly decides that Earth is useless and hands the mantle of ‘Emperor of the World’, down to his son.

iLK becomes responsible for ruling Earth and soon grows to love it. So when he discovers his father isn’t interested in caring for the planet he is confronted with a difficult choice. How will iLK save Earth whilst also trying to fulfil the responsibilities assigned by his father?

Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 is an illustrated novel for ages 8–12. At an age where children are learning about different points of views and about taking responsibility, this book aims to not just extol the virtues of doing the right thing, but also asks why one would and what that choice involves.

Using entries from iLK’s journal and comic pages throughout, Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 is likely to engage even reluctant readers.

What I Thought

I loved this and I am sure the boys will too. Although it is aimed at 8-12 year old I think good readers aged 6 -8 years would get on well with this too. It could also be read to this age group by the parents and enjoyed. I liked the diary style layout of the story and the illustrations were good. The book is funny but also teaches children about choices and different points of view. Highly recommended!

Where To Buy

Amazon UK – paperback

Amazon US – paperback

Change The World Before Bedtime by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good

The Blurb

Written in simple, engaging rhyme, this story takes an inspirational look at how the little things in life—a smile, a kind word, a simple deed—can help change the world in a big way. Through 21 stunning illustrations featuring a diverse group of young dreamers, children will read about eating right, cleaning up the Earth by recycling and conserving, helping the sick and those less fortunate, and working in a group to make bigger miracles. Even an ordinary kid can be a superhero before bedtime!

What I Thought

I really loved the gorgeous illustrations in this book. Full of ideas to make the world a better place that can be done in our every day lives. Perfect bedtime reading for 5-8 year olds it provides a lot of further discussion prompts for parent when reading. The rhyming text doesn’t flow as well as in most books but I think with the lively conversation starting points this does not really matter.

Where To Buy

Amazon – hardback

Buzzing Bees by Melissa Higgins

The Blurb

For ages 4-8 years

What makes a bee a bee? What are the buzziest bees from around the world? Carefully leveled, engaging text supports life science curriculum related to classification, behavior, life cycles, and more. Smithsonian Little Entomologist feeds kids’ natural curiousity about the little critters in their world to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Fans of augmented reality will love to buzz beyond the printed page with up-close bee videos, accessible via the Capstone 4D app or on your web browser. 

What I Thought

A great little non-fiction offering for kids and perfectly set for the recommended age group. This book is informative and full of great, bright and clear photos to illustrate the information. I love that they offer extra content online and check out the website for other great non-fiction books about other insects

Where To Buy

Capstone website

The Not-So-Brave Penguin by Steve Smallman

The Blurb

Posy the penguin is scared of many things – snowstorms, loud noises, the dark – but when her adventurous friend Percy is missing, Posy plucks up the courage to overcome her fears and goes on an excursion to find him. After an intrepid journey, Posy finds an injured Percy in a dark cave. She rescues him and brings him home, realising in the end just how brave she can really be. A heartwarming story about friendship, being brave, and overcoming fears when it really matters, this picture book is sure to delight and entertain.

What I Thought

A really charming story, perfect for bedtime reading. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, the story shows you can overcome your fears and be a great friend. Leo (aged 10) is a huge penguin fan and even at his age enjoyed this little story! Gorgeous illustrations compliment the story well and there are ideas for further discussion for parents/teachers at the end of the book.

Where To Buy

Amazon – kindle, paperback and hardback versions available

I hope you enjoyed this selection of kids books I would recommend this month. A huge thankyou to NetGalley for my ARC of these books in return for an honest review. I hope you and your little ones enjoy them as much as me and mine did. Happy reading!

March Book Reviews

This month has been a bit of a slow one for my reading but I think I have read my favourite book of the year so far.  I have been really lucky to win a book competition as well as get the opportunity to review some fantastic books.  I hope you enjoy this month’s round up and please let me know what you have loved reading in March in the comments below.

Sunflowers In February by Phyllida Shrimpton

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The Blurb

For fans of John Green and The Lovely Bones

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is  beginning to have a rather good time . . .
A moving, startlingly funny yet achingly sad debut novel from a stunning new talent.

What I Thought

I requested this book after reading the blurb and was excited to be accepted to read and review.  Reading it however, was not the experience I expected.  It didn’t let me down but I wasn’t as big of a fan of it as I thought I would be.  I found it all rather odd.

The story begins with the main character, Lily, waking up in a field and realising she was dead.  At first she follows her friends and family around and I did worry it was going to be a bit too close to The Lovely Bones as she makes a distressing discovery about her killer.  However, instead, this book takes a different turn when she manages to communicate with her brother, and he ‘lends’ her his body so she can say goodbye, tie up loose ends etc.  The tricky part is giving it back.

Like I say, I didn’t not enjoy this book but it was a bit weird.  It explores the possibility of what happens when you die and the author had an interesting take on this, but I feel that we didn’t get to see enough of what happened to Ben and it never went really deep enough.  The character of Lily was likeable and a typical teen, I think this would appeal to it’s most intended readers of YA.  I enjoyed the first part of the book, exploring the feelings following death (both from Lily and her family and friends perspectives) and the effect it has, but I think the twist was just a little too far fetched and strange for me.  Overall was a decent read but just not quite enough for me.

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan

bookworm1

The Blurb

The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the vivid intensity of your first encounter with a book.

As a bespectacled young bookworm, Lucy Mangan devoured books: from early picture books, to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, and from trashy teen romances to her first proper ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures.

This is a love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, telling the colourful story of our best-loved children’s books, the extraordinary people who created them, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.

What I Thought

After Sunflowers In February leaving me feeling a little disappointed I couldn’t have moved on to a better book.

Lucy took me on a journey that I could have written and evoked so many happy memories of past, childhood reads.  She shared a brief, interesting history about children’s publishing, along with some humorous family memories.

This book stirred up memories of old favourites as well as some books I had forgotten about.  She also shared a couple I haven’t read and intend to seek out if I can.  An absolutely brilliant read, especially for self-proclaimed bookworms like me.  Highly recommended and easily my favourite read of the year so far.

Favourite Quotes

“Leave us be.  We’re fine.  More than fine.  Reading’s our thing”

“‘Pallid’ says my sister, peering over my shoulder as I type this. ‘Bespectacled, Friendless.’ Which is also true.And yet, who needed flesh-and-blood friends when I had Jo March, Charlotte, Wilbur and everyone at Malory Towers at my beck and call?”

“you simply never know what a child is going to find in a book (or a graphic novel, or a comic, or whatever) – what tiny, throwaway line might be the spark that lights the fuse that sets off an explosion in understanding whose force echoes through the years”

“‘He’s reading!’  More often than not, I tiptoe back to watch.  I can practically see the stream of glittering words flowing into his mind, giving him new names for things, teaching him in some fundamental way that nothing else can manage”

“At most they will spend a few days tapping the backs of wardrobes hopefully (yes, I did – well, only the old wooden one in the spare room.  All the others in the house were white-melamine-covered chipboard)”

“Sendak’s favourite fan, though, was a little boy who sent him a card with a little drawing on it.  Out of respect for a fellow artist, Sendak went to some trouble with his reply and included a little drawing of his own – of a wild thing – to the boy.  He got a letter back from the boy’s mother which said ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’  Sendak considered it the highest compliment he had ever been paid.  ‘He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything.  He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.'”

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Audible – narrated by Cathleen McCarron)

eleanor

The Blurb

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

An astonishing story that powerfully depicts the loneliness of life, and the simple power of a little kindness

What I Thought

My first impressions were that this book may not be my cup of tea.  It has been very popular and spoken about a lot, which is why I chose to download it, but I was concerned I was not going to enjoy it, or even possibly get to the end.

Eleanor was a strange character who I just couldn’t warm to.  But then, as the story continued, I really did grow to love this odd, simple, lonely lady.  I found myself willing her on, cheering from the sidelines for her and hoping things would all turn out better for her.  I wanted her to do well, to find love and to banish her awful mother from her life.

This story is a real journey and you see this woman grow in front of your eyes.  It tackles the topic of adult loneliness and it is shocking to think that many people really do live this way.  There is a lovely interview with the author at the end of the story in which she talks about developing the character and what prompted her to write this story.

I also really enjoyed the narration of this story.  The soft Scottish accent was really how I envisioned Eleanor to talk and it bought the story and it’s location alive.  I hear Reese Witherspoon has bought the rights to make the film and I am sure it will be brilliant.  I found myself imagining the characters of Eleanor and Raymond to be played by Jayma Mays and Chris O’Dowd and really hope my ideas of the book aren’t ruined by a film version.

I would definitely recommend giving this one a read, or a listen.  I really enjoyed this as an Audible book with it’s great narration and think it helped me enjoy it even more than if I had read it.

 

I hope you enjoyed my March reviews, as I said at the top of the post, please let me know what you have enjoyed reading this month in the comments below.  You can still sign up for the Reading Challenge monthly newsletter by dropping me your email address.  I am attempting to read 50 books this year and hope you will try it with me!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

Thankyou to NetGalley, Vintage Books and Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC of Sunflowers In February and Bookworm.  I was given these books in return for a review but all opinions are my own

Blog Tour Book Review – Last Of The Summer Moet

Last of the Summer Moet.png

Last Of The Summer Moet by Wendy Holden

The Blurb

Top reporter Laura Lake has struck journalistic gold.

She’s discovered a secret country village where the British elite own weekend mansions. Film stars, famous artists and top writers, not to mention Cabinet ministers and the cream of M16, land their helicopters in the grounds of the gastropub. Far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi they compete in the world’s most exclusive pub quiz and fight for parts in the celebrity panto.

But how is Laura to gain access to this undercover Eden, whose borders are strictly controlled? Luckily her billionairess friend Lulu, a logo-obsessed socialite with a heart as huge as her sunglasses, suddenly fancies a quiet life in the country.

Can Laura gatecrash the pub quiz, infiltrate the panto and write her exposé before the snobbish villagers discover her identity? And before Lulu gets fed up and flees back to Kensington?

What I Thought

I really enjoyed this book.  I especially loved the characters created by Wendy, they were an eclectic bunch to put it mildly!  The main character seems a lot more ‘normal’ and is surrounded by an amazing bunch of people but she is able to bring a reality to the whole thing which I liked.  The story has a nice pace to it so doesn’t ever get tedious or boring and the ending is great.  I really enjoyed Wendy’s style of writing and it is lovely to see she is from Derbyshire, the same as me!

This was the second book about the main character, Laura, and I will definitely be reading the first at some point, but as a standalone book I would still recommend it to all.

Book Club Question

DESCRIBE THE BOOK IN THREE WORDS

Witty, colourful and fast-paced

The Author

Number-one bestselling author Wendy Holden was a journalist on Tatler, The Sunday Times, and the Mail on Sunday before becoming an author. She has since written ten consecutive Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers. She lives in Derbyshire.

wendy holden

Website: http://www.wendyholden.net/
Facebook: @wendyholdenauthor
Twitter: @Wendy_Holden

Where To Buy

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Dwz9Io
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2rvrZyt
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2rwz7Lg
iBooks: https://apple.co/2DsC8O8

Publisher

hoz

Website: http://headofzeus.com/
Facebook: @HoZ_Books
Twitter: @headofzeus
Instagram: @headofzeus

Thankyou to NetGalley and Head Of Zeus who kindly sent me this book in exchange for a review.  All opinions on it are my own

January Book Reviews

I have decided rather than splitting them into separate posts (which can clog up the blog as I read quite a lot) I would do a monthly post reviewing the books I have read.  My Reading Challenge/Book Club is still accepting new readers so check out my post here on how to sign up!

Some Kind Of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

Some Kind Of Wonderful.png

The Blurb

When the love of your life says you’re not The One, who are you? Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they’re about to get engaged. Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future. Lizzy is heartbroken – but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she’s been missing while playing Ian’s ideal ‘better half’. But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him? Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before – and, in the meantime, have a little fun

What I Thought

If you follow me on social media you will have seen my thoughts on this book already – I loved it!  Chick-Lit is not my go to genre, but I do enjoy the occasional one as a light, fluffy, easy read.  This however, was not run of the mill, everything land’s in the main characters lap and she lives happily ever after.  This book showed a real journey for the main character.  After leaving a long term partner, who you believed you would spend your life with, you have a lot of work to do.  You have to re-find yourself, possibly move house, find things to fill your time again, get used to being alone.  This book shows that journey for Lizzy and it was like a breath of fresh air for this style of book.  As a woman who has gone through this I was relieved to see something that represented the true struggles after a break up and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lizzy’s journey.  I will definitely be checking out some of Giovanna Fletcher’s other books after reading this one.



 

Part Star Part Dust by L. M. Valiram

Part Star Part Dust

The Blurb

A millionaire, a widow and a monk. A plane crash. Three destinies linked for eternity in a tale narrated by Time.

Meet Radha.

She was left in a dumpster on the side streets of Mumbai to die as she was born; premature and undernourished.

Meet Mira.

At sixteen she is to marry a man she has never met before. On her wedding day, she carries a knife.

And Gaurav.

People say love is more important than money. But what happens when having one means you can’t have the other?

Scattered across India, these three are intertwined in unlikely ways: the flower shop owned by Mira’s husband employs Radha’s boyfriend, Mira and Gaurav become partners in business and most importantly, an ill-fated trip to Delhi links them all in death and life. Set in the sensuous worlds of Bombay and Delhi, Valiram’s dazzling novel explores the deep meanings of love, family, and time.

What I Thought

As soon as I read the blurb I wanted to devour this book, and it did not disappoint.  Learning about the three central character’s lives, following them over time and seeing how their lives intertwined through time was fascinating.  I loced this quote towrds the end of the book and think it sums up the book really well and gets you thinking –

‘Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in destiny?  Or are you ohne of those that believe in choice alone?

Do you make your choices or do your choices make you?’

It makes you think deeper about the book and you wonder if fate was in control all along or whether the choices you see these characters make control what happens at the end of the story.  A stunning read and highly recommmended.

Buy The Book

https://www.waterstones.com/book/9781788038973

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green

sgc

Read the full review for this here

I currently have two more on the go and hope to have them finished by the end of the month but as I am posting this a little early, I will include them in February’s round up and review!  Let me know what books you have been loving in the comments below as I always like to check out a good recommendation.  Happy reading everyone!

NatalieThe Spoonie Mummy

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