Catch Me if You Can, Juliette Cosway

Genre:  Romance, Historical

I don’t read Historical novels often but like to dip into one every now and then, and this came along at just the right time. I did enjoy it but its not one I’d reread.

I liked Eleanor, a girl who’d been allowed to grow up without being moulded to society’s conventions. Her dad adored her, had indulged her and she was the boy he didn’t have. Her mother died in childbirth ( though oddly Eleanor mentions having a few childhood memories of her….Clearly a child prodigy!) and its really just been her and her father since, plus of course the servants from the family estate. She does have an aunt she’s close to, though she lives in America.

Eleanor wants to undertake the journey her father took many years ago, they’d planned to do it together, and now he’s died she plans to do it in tribute to him. Her aunt is horrified and sends Rivers to escort her to America, and hopefully persuade her not to undertake the perilous  journey. She’s already met Rivers, when he visited along with her aunt and there’s definitely a pull between them. He’s strong minded too though and when the two are set on opposing courses – well…fun times😉
Its a sweet romance, the historical side of it feels right, and I liked the characters. It wasn’t a story I fell in love with though, was one I could easily put aside to finish later rather than Have to finish Right Now!

Ultimately if you like a light historical romance you’ll enjoy it, but I really needed a bit more depth and drama to the story.
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Stars: three, a fun, light read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Nacho Figueras Presents: High Season, Jessica Whitman

Nacho Figueras Presents: High Season,  Jessica Whitman

Genre:  Romance, Womens Fiction (adult)

this was a fun easy read. Its actually a decent length but so easy to read it felt shorter. I was amazed how long I’d been engrossed in it. I’ve got some difficult family health issues going on right now so a read like this was just perfect for taking me away into another world. It reminded me of a long ago read, Jilly Coopers Polo,. got the same exotic flavour of the Palm Beach set, with the people who hang on to the moneyed owners, groupies for the players and the wonderful ponies.

I’ve never played polo, though I know it from novels but was swept into the story anyway. As a horse lover/owner I adored reading about how they fitted in and of course the fabulous de Campo brothers were a real treat. all the characters were wonderful from gorgeous standoff Alejandro, his very image conscious mother Pilar, the obnoxious back stabbing Cricket ( I love characters like hers in a story!!) to of course the other main lead, the lovely Georgia. I loved her friend Billy too and his boyfriend Beau, they fitted the story perfectly.

If you want a book to take you away from doom and gloom into a sunny, cutthroat world and as easy to follow but gripping story this is for you.

Stars: Five, a cracking read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Book Blogger Platform, Barb Drozdowich

 

 

Genre:  Computers & Internet, Professional & Technical

Well, like many people I fell into to blogging by accident a couple of years back. I love to read, added reviews on amazon of books I’d read and started getting authors requesting I read their books. From there I joined a site aimed at reviewers and saw they prefer those with a blog. I didn’t really understand the whole blog thing but had subscribed to a few art and novel blogs and saw that for me wordpress is easier than Blogger to use, so started a WordPress blog. From there it grew and I now have a product review blog too.

 

Blogging demands time though, its not a quick and easy route to free stuff, what you get out is determined by what you put in. To start I was confused, so many things to choose, to learn, different styles, themes, colours, fonts…I was guided there by my experience as a reader/user of blogs, but that’s where this book is useful. I’ve changed bits overtime, but I’m still reluctant to make too many changes in case I get it wrong. I still open a new window to make changes, so I can revert back to the old one if I mess up…and I do!

Barb has a series of YouTube videos – ironic really – linked to the book, and with the help of those I plan to make more radical changes when I’ve time. If you’re just starting its easier I feel to focus on the videos than try to make sense of what the book says. Much of the text is quite complex, and its not exactly riveting reading anyway is it ? These kind of books are always somewhat dry to read. I tend to do them in stages, give time to absorb new info.

There are things I’ve learned from this book, that I could incorporate, how to get more subscribers, how to encourage comments etc. Blogging really is second to me to reading, and is there to support my addiction to new books! That doesn’t mean I ignore it though or can treat it as inferior. I try to have a new book or product review each day, and its a personal choice what kind of content and how often you blog. Barb helps there – you need to focus on your aims, and mine is to get good books to read, and useful  products to review. For others is about trying to make money from the site, to attract adverts, get commissions from amazon etc. Each demands a different approach, and books like this help you see where to go, what to do.

I’d love to make money from my blogs – who wouldn’t? That demands even more time though and I feel my life is pretty full as it is, so currently I’m not going that route. In the future though who knows? Books like this do help take away the mythology surrounding how to make money from blogging.

 

In a way I did feel Barb let personal preference override her advice at times, often there was little to choose but she’d come down on one side without really explaining why. That doesn’t help readers work out how to choose for themselves.

There’s some interesting stats re blogs, but for me and I suspect many bloggers, that side doesn’t really get made the most of. What many really want to know is what makes the most effective blog for a good user experience. I’m not convinced this book really covers that, but it does offer lots of advice on where to go to find out things, and of course the YouTube videos which are excellent.

 

If you’re thinking about starting a blog don’t let the technical side put you off, in this book it sounds quite scary at times! Just start one up and learn as you go, using books like this to guide you but not rule your choices. Its Your blog You choose, having explored different options first. I call it the Suck It and See approach!

It is easier if you get it right to start – I’d like to change the “theme “ of mine but not sure if that’s going to involve a lot of work or be a simple job. If I’d chosen more carefully to begin that would have been better, but I was just swamped, overawed with all the choices. Looking at them with a book like this to hand would have helped me weigh up pros and cons.

I have the free wordpress blog but am thinking about changing to the paid one, really just because I like to be in control. I did fall foul of their policies by accident about two month into my venture and my blog was locked, but they were great at advising where I’d gone wrong and soon unlocked it. Having now made over 1600 book reviews I really don’t want to risk that again, but am still not sure what else I need to do if I change, what WordPress does – such as back ups – that I would need to build in. I suspect that’s true of many of us though.

 

Use this book for reference, use the YouTube videos, but don’t get put off by the jargon, the tech side. You can learn as you go – many of us have and TBH I think you never stop learning. Its a great hobby, whether you’re talking about books, products, hobbies or just using it as a kind of daily diary.

 

Stars: Four, a great reference but a little dry and hard going at times.

ARC received from Netgalley and publishers for review purposes.

Love for Lydia,  H. E. Bates

Genre:  Literary Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

I’m an avid reader, always have been and occasionally I feel pangs of conscience for not having read a “classic” book, one it seems everyone has read and loved.
This book is one of those, I thought it was time to extend my reading, try something different. Sadly its one of those that others love but leave me cold.

I found it long winded and dreary, and so many times I was just waiting for something, anything, to happen. It seemed like every tiny aspect had to be described in minute detail.Maybe if I’d liked Lydia it would have helped, but I didn’t. she came over as a shallow, vapid, selfish girl, one who had to be the centred of attention, the focus of all the drama, and she didn’t care about others feelings, just used people for her own needs. I really didn’t know why the men fell in love with her.

I found it hard to really like any of the characters, I never really felt I understood them, didn’t know them enough to care about what they went through. I need to like characters ( or hate them) I need that strong emotion, need to enjoy what happens to them and here I just felt I wasn’t interested in any of them.
I probably liked Nancy the best, felt sorry for her, but not enough to really care ultimately about her. The boys – well, I just wanted to shout “Open your eyes! See what’s really going on!” But there – that’s why its not a story for me, but is for hundreds of thousands of others😉

One I now know why I didn’t read it….great for others but clearly H.E.Bates writing isn’t for me.

Stars: Two, a miss for me

ARC received from Netgalley and publishers for review purposes.

For 100 Days, A 100 Series Novel, Lara Adrian

Genre:  Romance

I love Lara’s Midnight Breed novels and looked forward to this venture into contemporary romance. I had vowed to stay away from the Fifty type trilogy reads, having found so many that are pale imitations, or simply focused on sex and not the story behind it. Still, Love Lara’s book so couldn’t resist this.
And how glad I am that I asked for it – its a fabulous read, hot sex, great characters and a terrific story full of secrets to come out promising the wonderful drama filled reads for the next two books.

Of course, here we come to my pet hate – next book is this winter, and final one not til next spring.
I’m “in” the story now, really immersed into what happens with Avery and Nick, wanting to know more, what’s going to happen when Claire comes back, where will Avery live, what’s the secret that Nick is hiding, what else has Avery kept from him, how does Kathleen fit in to the story….so many questions right now but I know from past experience that desire to know more will have waned when books two and three are released. I really wish all parts were out at once, that way I can read straight through and enjoy the story so much more.

So if like me you’re in a bit of a FoG funk, tired of reading the same old story re-churned don’t ignore this, Lara has come up with something that still in that type of format, but which is fresh and original, with fabulous lead characters in Avery and Nick, but with some good secondary characters too, Avery’s friend Trina (? think that was her name), Jared the artist, Avery’s mum, Claire who owns the flat – will she be a bigger part of the next book or just a convenient person to let Avery be housed near Nick? What about Kathleen? I feel she’s got a big part to play – well, hope so anyway:-)
There’s some very erotic and steamy sex here but backed up with a story that will have you wanting more..now dammit!! Buut..got to wait😦 The saving grace is that it ends on a natural breakpoint, not an awful cliffhanger.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read that left me wanting the next books now.

ARC received from Netgalley and publishers for review purposes.

Poison in the Water, Lies, deceit, and a love story that must be told.  Marissa de Luna

 

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction


A strange read for me, bringing mixed feelings about my enjoyement of the story. Its well written and I enjoyed the start but when things went wrong for Celeste they went wrong for me too. I could have dealt with what happened if there’d been a happy ending but though its a romance read its not one that ends well. For me that’s essential, and the lack made this novel a fail for me. There were parts I really enjoyed, but overall I felt just sad at the way things ultimately worked out.

It didn’t work for me but that’s down to my personal taste and a need for a HEA, not that the story itself isn’t good. Reading is very subjective. If you’re happy to enjoy the journey and not worry about the ending you could find this a great read. It’s well written and the deception builds up very cleverly, leading the reader to wonder exactly what’s going on and whether Alex is right when he puts her fears down to stress and paranoia or Celeste really is being deceived.

Stars: two and a half– parts I enjoyed but overall just didn’t cut it for me sadly.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

Sugar Daddy, A Sugar Bowl Novel, Sawyer Bennett

 

Genre:  Romance, Erotica

First off, my bad! I saw it was a Sawyer Bennet novel and requested it without researching – I love her stories – and Gah!! Its a trilogy and ends on a cliff-hanger.  I just Hate that. I get so invested in the story and characters that I’m frustrated when it stops, and then when next part is out I’ve lost all that momentum, then I have to go back and re read bits to try to work out what was happening…I really wish these sort of books were either one complete story, or if they need to be two or three novels because they’re too long, and cost would put readers off, then release all parts at once. That way readers could try the first part at a smaller cost and see if they liked the story, or buy all three parts ( as a cheaper bundle maybe? It happens after all books out very often) As it is the final part isn’t out until end of this year…

So, the story. Its typical SB. Great characters and fabulous writing. Hot and steamy sex scenes that add to the story and don’t dominate it as in far too many books. I loved Sela, felt for what she had gone through and could understand her quest for revenge. When she sees one of her abusers on TV that need gets concentrated in her mind, and she spends the next few months working at it.

Her first approach fails, but then JT’s business partner sees her and offers her one night. She takes it, she’s really surprised at how attracted to him she feels, that’s not happened to her before, and then she’s astonished that she enjoys sex with him. Something else new, her first orgasm from a man and that sparks something in Beck. He’s so taken with her innocence, the pleasure he gives her and how different she is to the usual jaded, money orientated ladies he usually ends with.
There’s something special going on between them, and he offers her a month as a sugar baby ( eurgghh awful term!!)
Beck didn’t expect to want more, but he does, a night leaves him wanting and he thinks a month will get her out of his system. He’s well known for only ever having one nighters, never more, never wanted a sugar baby, so everyone around him is astonished. Of course that brings Sela within range of JT, but she’s also got some pretty deep feelings for Beck so she’s struggling. Then something happens that brings all those memories back and makes her feel JT is still doing what he did to her.

Its a terrific read, you feel for Sela, then when she meets Beck, he’s so different to everyone else, really seems to care about her – and the sex is off the charts too. Beck is a gorgeous man, a real treasure, very genuine and you can feel how much he wants Sela, not just for sex but for all of her. They become closer all the while, but she’s always got JT and her past at the back of her mind. The face he presents the world isn’t the side of him she and others know, and yet he still gets away with it. she can’t understand how Beck just can’t seem to see the wrong in him, but he’s known him most of his life and Sela only a couple of months. Then when it all goes bang at the end I was heartbroken, its a real cliffy that ends in tears – hers and mine!

Stars: Five, a great read, classic SB but oh I wish I could read all of it right now…

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

How to Get Free ARCs from Publishers

Interesting post. I do a few direct from publishers and authors – when I started I contacted them directly as above, but now I mainly use Netgalley and authors/publishers that contact me. I don’t have time for more:-)

Hit or Miss Books

How to Get Free ARCs from Publishers

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 Part 1: Criteria

 Getting ARCs from publishers is actually pretty easy, but you do need to do some things for that to happen.

  1. Get a blog.

 Obviously, you need a blog to receive ARCs. Publishers want someone who’s consistent in his reading and reviewing books and has an established readership.

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Natural Hair Coloring, How to Use Henna and Other Pure Plant Pigments for Chemical-Free Beauty, Christine Shahin

 

Genre:  Non Fiction

Like so many people I’ve always coloured my hair. I like to change it up, and it makes me feel good when I see fresh glossy colour, especially now I’m a bit older (!!) and have a few grey strands. Back in the 70’s when I was a teenager we used to frequent shops selling natural products, dowsed ourselves in patchouli oil ( poor bus driver must have been nearly asphyxiated with a coachload of teens from my all girls school) One time I bought some Henna and duly coloured my long dark hair. The colour was lovely, a rich vibrant red. Unfortunately so was the bathroom grouting and floor, the bath sealant and the towels I’d used…Mum was Really Not Happy and Henna and anything like it was banned. Somehow I’ve never plucked up courage to try it since.

This book is full of helpful info and fabulous pictures with recipes for what was used in each. . I love natural products, make my own very often and hate using too many potentially harmful chemicals, and yet when faced with that or grey dull hair the chemicals win. Now maybe I’ll pluck up courage to have another go. Henna and Indigo I’d heard of but not  Cassia or Amla, and they are useful colours used either alone or combined to give more variety. Christine gives some really detailed info to accompany her images showing what was used and how long. Given that some need to stay on for eight hours I was wondering how she dealt with that – surely her customers don’t stay in her salon that long? And thinking of the mess I can get in with just 30 mins of dye, eight hours seems a recipe for disaster for those like me – who attract mess as my nan used to say “ like sh it to a blanket!!) Solution, cling film type wrap and some handy head scarves to contain it all, and look good whilst the dye takes. She doesn’t just say use a scarf though, but shows in detail how to fold and use to keep everything secure.

When talking about the dyes Christine gives some really helpful advice over how to tell the genuine product from that  mixed with cheaper and inferior ingredients. Not only will you not get the correct result with those, but of course they could be dangerous too. ( another of nan’s homilies “cheap always comes dear in the end” You do need to know exactly what you are using for best results, for safely and to avoid having wasted time and money. .

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Stars: Five, a terrific resource for those interested in natural hair dyes.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

If you enjoyed my review I’d love it if you would please click “Like” and if you didn’t I’d love to know why, so I can make future reviews more helpful.

The Bad Boy’s Baby, Cindi Madsen

 

Genre:  Romance,

I thought I’d like this, it had an appeal to me, bad boys come home stuff but thought it was a good read it wasn’t a great one for me. Its kind of Fluffy, feel good and I needed more drama. Even when inevitably something does go wrong it didn’t feel to me as though it could be irreparable, that they couldn’t get past the block.

I liked Cam but expected him to be a bit more rough round the edges, with the town Bad Boy rep but he didn’t seem to deserve that label now and even in his past I couldn’t see anything other than an odd bit of temper that fitted the description. Then there’s Emma, who’s a sweet girl, but had to put her ambitions on hold when her one night of rebellion had unexpected consequences.
All the ingredients that I need from  the characters were there but needed to be – for me – a bit More, a bit stronger. Instead they felt a bit one dimensional, a little bland. As ever though that’s what many readers want and they’re not like that to them but perfect. Its back to the readers all want different thing,s and thought this book was just an OK read for me it could be perfect for you.

Stars: Three, a sweet read but definitely a one off for me..

ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley

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