Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Advance review - The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

Review of 'The Stars Are Fire,' by Anita Shreve.

Thank you to Net Gallery for giving me to opportunity to read and review this novel.



The blurb for this novel really intrigued me and I was delighted when I was approved to read the novel. This was a book that grew on me the more I read it. The fire was a dramatic beginning to the novel, after what I was beginning to think was a rather slow start. It certainly ramped up the novel from then! The fire was horrific and vivid and you become so immersed into the characters dilemma. Grace is so desperately protective of her children, you just will her to get through the situation. I couldn't imagine being in the situation myself and how I would react. This novel dipped and flowed with its action, and had a nice melodic tone..

Several really well developed characters entered the story and then some sadly disappeared; what I felt was too soon and was a shame. I would have liked to have seen more of the characters Grace connected with. I suppose this was meant to indicate how the lives of the people back when the fire happened became so separated from each other, and friendships lost. In that way it was realistic, but for the reader, still a shame!.

In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands' fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms--joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain--and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens--and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.

A complex twist that I was beginning to feel would never happen suddenly took the novel into a spiral toward the end and had me desperately hoping she'd make the right choice. I wouldn't say I was disappointed with the ending, just that it wasn't what I had envisaged and maybe didn't give the novel the bang that it started with. But overall, I really enjoyed the novel and learning more about the fires that struck the Maine coastline. Grace and her brave family had to be ever resourceful and these details in the novel made it really memorable so I would recommend.

Buy the novel on pre-order here:  http://a.co/0G0lWFv

UK - http://amzn.eu/4jy2gtm

More about the author ...




Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. "I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never."

ANITA SHREVE's novels have sold more than six million copies and have been translated into thirty-six languages. She lives with her husband in New Hampshire.

Review of 'Freckle Stars' by Jackie Leduc

I was delighted to be approved to read this children's book on Net Gallery. The illustrations were vivid and and story was heart felt.



Freckle Stars follows the story of Clementine...

At first Clementine didn't want anything to do with her freckles. Other children poked fun at her in school and she didn't want to be different. But one day, her mother teaches her an important life lesson she will never forget.

As someone that also has freckles, I really felt for Clementine and know how unkind children can be. The reactions of the other children were very true to experiences children have at school. My heart really went out to her as she tried to get rid of the freckles after the other children were unkind to her. I liked the little story that her mother told her to make her feel better. It was a lovely way to look at freckles and to make children feel special. The illustrations are lovely to go with the narrative. I wasn't entirely sure about the very ending and how it was worded, as I think no matter what we look like, freckles or otherwise, children should be taught that there isn't a way to look 'the best' and to respect each other for looking different.

But overall a kind and lovely story to make a freckled child feel special about themselves. This would be a great book to use in the classroom to discuss how people are different and being kind to others.

Buy Freckle Stars on Amazon - http://a.co/9cUxH7j

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Review of The Idea of You - Amanda Prowse


Review of The Idea of You - Amanda Prowse



I was delighted to receive a paperback advance review copy of The Idea of You in return for an honest review. I was excited about this novel before I had even opened a page, and I wasn’t disappointed. I knew the storyline would be something I would connect to. The Idea of You is published by Lake Union Publishing.


With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined after they suffer multiple miscarriages. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. And when Jonah’s teenage daughter comes to live with them, Lucy is confronted with the truth of what love and motherhood really mean. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything.

This moving and poignant story poses the question of what it means to be a mother in today’s hectic world, and whether it really is asking too much to want it all…


This book brought a huge range of emotions. At the start, I was shocked, saddened, and deeply moved by the events in Lucy's life. We meet the Carpenters who have it all in life, except the one thing they want, a baby. I really felt for her as she struggled in her quest to become a mother. Her teenager step daughter was difficult to warm to and I could feel Lucy's angst trying to communicate with her. There were threads of mystery too woven through the story, which left me intrigued to find out more.

This is a beautifully written book, which pulls at the heartstrings from the outset; The Idea of You had me reaching for the tissues within the first couple of pages. Lucy has it all, the job, the husband and she is desperate to complete this with a baby. Little did she know that this would prove the most difficult to achieve. Warmly written with excellent understand of families and angst, The Idea of You will stay with you long after you have read it. You find yourself rooting for Lucy but also slightly concerned that she might be concealing something that might throw everything up in the air.


This novel is all the more poignant on hearing the authors own story. Although The Idea of You is fictional, it rings a truth through the narrative, as Lucy's emotions and grief are raw and powerfully written. It struck a deep chord within myself as I too had struggled (although in different ways) to have a child.


There are little details within the novel that are very touching and memorable. A very cleverly written, moving story that I would definitely recommend. Amanda has provided us with a gut wrenching but warm and inspiring novel. I look forward to reading more novels by Amanda.


Buy Amanda Prowse's novel here:  http://amzn.eu/hCKpRUJ



A little more about the author ...



Amanda Prowse is an international bestselling author who has published sixteen novels in dozens of languages. Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Interview with Amanda Prowse - The Idea of You


 Interview with Amanda Prowse - 
celebrating the release of her touching new novel 'The Idea of You'

Inspired by Amanda’s own experiences, this is a compelling and heart-wrenching look at the true meaning of love, family and motherhood.


I am delighted today to be able to welcome Amanda Prowse onto my blog for a Q&A; a very warm welcome to Amanda. Amanda has recently released her tender and poignant new novel 'The Idea of You'. She has kindly joined us today to talk more about the novel and the writing process behind the book. Thank you so much Amanda for joining us. I have been lucky enough to read this fabulous and compassionately written book already and will include my review on the blog later this week. This book really struck a deep chord within me, and although my circumstances around difficulties conceiving a child were different, the raw emotions experienced when reading this book really hit home. I was delighted to be able to ask Amanda more about the novel, and learn more about this special, super talented author.

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?



Why did you chose to write The Idea of You, such a deeply emotional novel so close to your own personal story? 
   
I think it’s important to look at topics that affect large numbers of women even if that subject is difficult. The idea of motherhood is one that permeates many aspects of a woman’s life and it doesn’t always finish like a fairy tale. With one in five pregnancies ending in miscarriage in the UK and countless women unable to conceive, I wanted to highlight what it is like for a woman who has to live though this situation.
  
How much is Lucy a reflection of yourself and your feelings?  
   
It might surprise readers to learn that the answer is that she is ‘Not at all’. Lucy is entirely different to me in every way apart from the fact that we have both struggled with fertility. The way I see her is that she is feistier than me, smarter than me and someone I would admire greatly.
  
Do you become withdrawn during difficult times in your life or become angry? 
   
I’m probably quite unusual in that I do neither. Instead I’m a talker through the good, the bad and the times when it gets ugly! And actually, being a talker has got me through many a dark time in my life. It has always been my belief that truth lies in the old adage ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’. I talk things through with my husband, best friend, and long-suffering family members and find this helps with my perspective on life.  

Did you ever have to take time out from writing the novel if it became too painful?  
     
Yes I do and I know this sounds weird but the way I deal with it is by writing two novels simultaneously; one that is light hearted, even funny and the more serious one. This gives me balance and keeps me on track. I have to say though that although there are some darker moments in my books, the stories are inevitably uplifting, so always carry a positive message.
  
You were excellent at writing about the ever-changing teenage moods swings, what were you like as a teenager?  
   
I’m afraid to say I was very boring. I was a real home bird and a bookworm. I loved being with my parents and grandparents and realise how lame that sounds. I was never a party girl and always worked very hard academically - my escape and joy was found in reading.
   
Do you knit? Or is it something you've always wanted to learn?     
  
I knit badly and would definitely love to get better at it. I come from a family of knitters but don’t seem to have inherited the gene that makes it come easily.   
  
Where do you like to write, do you need peace and quiet or a bustling atmosphere? 
   
Either, I’m very lucky in that in any environment I go into my own little world and can happily write.
  
What would you like to be known for as a grandmother? My late grandmother baked special caramel and ginger biscuits, do you envision yourself being 'known' for something?  
     
First of all, I love the idea of becoming a grandma and hope that I get that lucky.  And I think taking a leaf out of my own mum’s book, I would love to be known for making them laugh.
    
You write so beautifully about family life, do you use inspiration from your own extended family? 
  
Yes, I do, everything funny, interesting or moving that happens to me, I like most writers, store these events away and use them to help with my writing. I draw on a lot from chance encounters with strangers too. Because I’m such a prolific writer if I bump into you there is a very high chance that I’ll take some tiny aspect that I observe to embellish a character with.
  
Did your family struggle with your writing of such a deeply personal story, when you and Simeon had gone through a similar situation?  
   
I’m very lucky in that Simeon is so supportive of my writing and I’m able to discuss the outline of all my stories with him before I write a single word.
  
Did you always have hope or did you struggle with keeping positive?  
  
There were of course times when my loss felt quite overwhelming and it was hard to remain upbeat, however I was so lucky to have such amazing support around me that it really helped me get through it.   
  
Do you have an outlet for when you're stuck with writing and need a break? Maybe going for a run, reading or swimming etc.?
   
A quick walk round the block does it for me every time.
  
Are you working on a new novel?     
  
Yes, I’m currently working on two stories; I’m just finishing the final edit stage of the next one ‘The Art of Hiding’ that will be released in July. It’s about a likeable woman from quite a poor background who marries well and appears to have it all; a wealthy husband, a big house and a couple of great boys who attend a posh private school. Not everything is as it appears however when we learn that her husband was quite adept at ‘the art of hiding’ and the reader looks on as an unexpected event turns her world upside down with devastating consequences. Anyone who enjoyed my summer book of last year ‘My Husband’s Wife’ will absolutely love this book because it tackles issue about the realisation that just because someone has a lot of money and possessions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are happy.
   
Do you have a favourite novel that you have written or do you love them all the same?!
   
I always tend to like the one that I’m currently writing the most, so at least that means that I enjoy going into work every day. My long standing personal favourite though is Clover’s Child and I will always love that book partly because of the romantic story line and partly because it has an imperfect ending reflecting that things don’t always work out as we would like and that sometimes life is just like that. It carries the message that you should always follow your dreams and that you should not let anyone get in the way of your happiness.
  
Thank you so much Amanda for appearing on my blog today and for sharing with us more about The Idea of You and the deeply personal experiences behind the novel. The Idea of You is such a beautiful book; a must read that I would definitely recommend!

‘The Idea of You’ is available to buy here on Amazon:   http://bit.ly/theIdeaOfYou
  
More about the author …
   

Amanda Prowse is a bestselling novelist with an incredible 148K followers on Twitter. The Idea of You is Amanda’s seventeenth novel and follows her trademark style of writing about ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love while being tested in ways they never imagined. 

 Some of Amanda's other titles ...





Please check out my review of The Idea of You - coming soon.





Kindle Countdown deal - Letters to Eloise

Letters to Eloise is on a limited offer of 99p on kindle for the next few days, rising to £1.99 then back to full listed price. Grab a copy whilst you can!



Letters to Eloise is the heart-wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams; a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review of 'The Giant Jumperee' by Julia Donaldson

Read with Mummy - review of 'The Giant Jumperee' by Julia Donaldson.

 
I was delighted to be able to review an advance copy of this book through Net Gallery.
   

 Rabbit arrives home one day to hear a loud voice coming from inside his burrow:
"I'm the Giant Jumperee and I'm scary as can be!" shouts the stranger.
Rabbit's friends Cat, Bear, and Elephant come to help, but they're no match for the mysterious, booming voice. But who is the Giant Jumperee? Find out in this new read-aloud classic from internationally bestselling author Julia Donaldson, beautifully brought to life by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury.
  
At first, I thought that receiving an ebook copy of a picture book would completely spoil the story. I was mistaken. Although it was more tricky reading a book to a child from a phone app, my son Elliot was straight away caught up with the story and loved zooming in on the pictures to see the details. I can’t wait for him to have a physical copy of the book. The story is very catchy and there were part that were repetitive, which enabled Elliot to join in as he picked up the words. Down in a burrow, is a stranger that is not letting rabbit back into his burrow. Who is the stranger? Who is the Giant Jumperee? Elliot loved all the animals trying to help. He kept saying 'Ribbit help' when Mummy Frog comes along to help Rabbit get his burrow back. 
   
‘I’m the Giant Jumperee and I’ll squash you like a flea.’
   
We both loved the ending to this book, Elliot found it hilarious. He loved Mummy Frog counting down, ‘One…two…THREE,’ and joined in with this each time.
   
video
Elliot searching in the woods for the Giant Jumperee. Unfortunatley this video only seems to work on a computer not on a phone.

We have spent the rest of the morning searching for rabbit burrows in the woods, with Elliot calling down the hole for the scary Giant Jumperee. 'Jumperee' was a tricky word at first for a two year old to master but he became more confident. I can see endless possibilities for this book to be used in the classroom for both literacy and artwork. It would make a great book for inspiring imagination. Who could be down the hole? 
   
An absolute winner of a book from Julia Donaldson. As a parent, it was a delight to read, a great length for a bedtime story and we just cant wait to get our hands on a copy for Elliot to have in his room.



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Advance review of 'A Life Between Us' by Louise Walters.

Review of 'A Life Between Us' - Louise Walters

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read this novel through NetGallery. I am a fan of Louise's writing and very much enjoyed her first novel 'Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase.'


The day was set, in her mind, if not in her heart. She knew what happened. For many years she had re-lived it, frequently, slotting things into place, arranging them to her satisfaction. But had she got it wrong?’

Tina Thornton’s twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister’s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died.
Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.

I really, really enjoyed reading this intelligent book. There are not many novels that keep me up all hours desperate to find out what was happening next! I loved the slow progression over the years as we watch complicated Tina, and the other intriguing characters, grow up from childhood. 
   
Using letters written by Tina to her distant relative was a lovely way of doing these flashbacks to the past. Although there are many different threads to the story, they are interwoven together cleverly and it does not complicate the story, rather to complement the novel. 
  
The mystery surrounding Tina's twin sister's death had me eager to find out what had happened, and kept the pages turning. The twin plays a central part to the story, as she is still a major part in Tina's life. Twists and turns lead us towards a satisfying ending of this beautifully told story. A story of mystery, loss, family secrets, and guilt. Fantastic. 

I look forward to the author’s next novel!

This book will be released 28th March. Buy this book on pre-order now on amazon: http://amzn.eu/eYfH82q

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Contact

I welcome emails so please get in touch!

If you'd like to contact me, please email emilywilliamsauthor@yahoo.com or follow me on twitter @EmilyRMWilliams

Please check my review policy if you are contacting about a book review, blog tour or other book related query. I love taking part on other people's blogs for interviews and guest posts and will offer my novel Letters to Eloise for review, so please get in touch!



Thank you!
Emily

Monday, 6 March 2017

Review of Paper in the wind - Olivia Mason-Charles

Review of 'Paper in the wind' by Olivia Mason-Charles

I was delighted to be asked to review this novel by Olivia Mason-Charles. Olivia appeared on my blog a few weeks ago for an author interview and it is always amazing to read the novel that you've heard so much about.

Paper in the Wind is a compassionate and riveting story depicting a single father’s dedication to his daughter. In the midst of the overwhelming struggles that accompanied autism, he continues to persevere. Her father’s love enabled her to overcome insurmountable obstacles, discovered the power of love and embraced the gift of life.

This moving novel tells the story of a fathers passionate struggle to support his daughter, Alexa, alone after tragedy hits. His daughter is autistic and struggles daily with behaviour and understanding in the world. This is a heart warming story of the fathers dedication to his daughter. It details some therapies such as PECS that were tried with her and is very positive.

Alexa's unique friendship with the boy Jonathan is very touching. The short compelling story reads more like a factual account rather than a fictional novel so you get thrust into the story as if it were real. I was hooked from the start and very satisfied with the ending. Overall a beautiful story that would offer ideas, hope and support for families with autistic children.

I only wished it was longer and is a great start for a full length novel. I learnt a lot from this novel which gives a really positive outlook for austistic children.

Paper in the wind is available to buy here:  http://amzn.eu/auRF2eI

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Read with Mummy - Billy's Bucket

Review of 'Billy's Bucket' by Kes Gray and illustrated by Garry Parsons



Billy wants only one thing for his birthday - a bucket. Inside it, he can see all kinds of magnificent sea creatures. But Mum and Dad are sceptical and, when Dad unwittingly uses the bucket to clean his car, he's in for a big surprise!

Billy's Bucket really hits the imaginative world of children's minds. Inside Billy's bucket is a host of sea life and the fabulous, bright, and interesting illustrations create endless possibilities for talking about the story. My son loves to explore the pictures and name the different sea creatures. He's possibly a little young for the text but we emphasise parts of the story he can see in the pictures and he'll happily explore them for a long time. The text is fun and is amusing to read. This would also be a great text to use in the classroom for capacity and imaginative literacy lessons.


 

Overall verdict - lovely book with amazing illustrations and endless possibilities for its use. Would definitely recommend. Of course Elliot now has to have a bucket, 'Elliot's bucket' and fill it with all sorts of things!

Buy the book here:

 http://amzn.eu/8ZEdYLC



Saturday, 4 March 2017

Read with Mummy - The Tickle Book



Review of 'The Tickle book' by author Ian Whybrow and illustrator Axel Scheffler 

Read with Mummy


Look out - there's a Ticklemonster about! And he's off to tickle all his animal friends, from the pigs on the farm to penguins at the zoo. Join Tom and Bear as they follow him on his adventures, but watch out - you might get tickled too!

This pop-up paperback book features a laugh-out-loud text by Ian Whybrow that is full of witty rhymes and silly scenarios, and illustrations by Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo. Bursting with funny details, The Tickle Book is a bedtime book with a difference. Best of all, children can join in the fun with flaps to lift, wheels to turn, tabs to pull and pop-up surprises on every page!

This book causes peels of giggles whenever it is opened! The fun story and child friendly flaps are a huge winner with Elliot. He loves the little signs in the page corners saying what is to come on the next page. 


Sometimes we find it difficult to read the extra bits of text due to either uncontrollable laughter or Elliot's desire to find the tickle monster under a flap as quickly as possible, before he rolls around giggling! Usually distracting him by the fascinating illustrations works, as he loves to spot other animals and to find the Gruffalo mouse.

  video

As you can see, we don't get very far reading this book sometimes! Elliot reading 'The Tickle Book' before bed. Sorry, sadly video only seems to work from a computer not a phone.
  

A very fun book to read and a firm favourite, with engaging text. From a parents point of view, if we are wanting a calm bedtime, the book sadly goes missing! The tickle monster has gone to bed early! 

It is great to have a book so loved by him. Fabulous.


To buy this book http://amzn.eu/bjT4g3G