Book Review: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary ImpactThe Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We can all recount moments that changed our lives. This book is about those moments – what they have in common, how to recognise a moment and, most importantly, how to create one. There are a range of examples of how ‘moments’ can be used to change things – from teaching, to improving sanitation in the developing world, to turning around failing schools.

The writing style is conversational and accessible, but there seems to be sound research behind everything. Because of the storytelling aspects of the book, I found it quite a moving read in places (especially the bit about the guy who wrote his mother a letter).

I heartily recommend this book, especially to anyone who feels like their life is stuck in a rut. It certainly made me think about how I could do things better (or at least differently), so I guess reading it was a moment in itself.

I received a free copy of this from Netgalley/ the publishers in return for an honest review. Thank you!

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Book review: Famous by Jenny Holiday

FamousFamous by Jenny Holiday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, at the height of his infamy, Evan Winslow meets a girl called Emmy. His muse. (except he’s just quit painting).
Seven years later, Emmy has become Emmerson Quinn – mega star. Evan is hiding out, teaching in a small university. When Emmy turns up needing a place to hide, he understands.
The thing I loved about this book is that the characters are so believable. Great dialogue (not snappy for the sake of the one-liner, but genuinely natural). The characters change as the book progresses. Evan is over protective, but learns not to be over the top about it. Emmy is kooky (and annoyingly super competent at every-bloody-thing), but learns that she doesn’t have to please everyone.
Mrs Johanssen, Evan’s neighbour is just totally awesome.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to the sequel.

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Book review: Altitude by Niel Bushnell

AltitudeAltitude by Niel Bushnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I met Niel Bushnell at an event and was curious. (Generally speaking, if I get on with people in real life, I tend to like their writing too). It’s billed as paranormal YA, but it’s not what you’d expect. It’s a story about a bully who learns to fly and the disruption that causes to her relationships.
Tam isn’t a nice person. In fact, she’s a bully. Abigail is her on/off victim. The two are bound together by the shared secret – the fact that Tam can fly.
There are three point of view characters in the story, each with their own problems. They’re not particularly nice girls (apart from Abi, maybe), but they’re all believable. I really enjoyed the story. It was refreshingly different.

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Book review: Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

Who’s That Girl?Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edie has been in love with Jack for a long time. When things go wrong on Jack’s wedding night, Edie ends up being persona non grata at her office and her only choice is to move back in with her dad and sister and to take an assignment writing the official biography of spoilt celebrity Elliot Owen.

I liked the fact that Elliot and Edie are both back at home, ironing out the tangles in their lives. All the characters are well rounded (I wouldn’t expect anything less – I’ve been a fan of Mhairi McFarlane for a while now), even Edie’s grumpy sister and somewhat crazy neighbour.

There’s a cyber bullying sub plot, which was really interesting too. When Edie sorted that one out at the end, I nearly cheered out loud.

This is a good fun read. Elliot really is a sweetie.

(….and now I have the song ‘Who’s That Girl’ stuck in my head!)

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Book Review: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The HoneymoonThe Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jemma has always dreamed of the perfect honeymoon with her husband, but things don’t go according to plan… and then one day he disappears. There’s nowhere to hide on the island (well, there must be, but let’s go with it) and no one knows what happened to him. Theories abound and everyone on the island is a suspect. The most likely suspect appears to be Jemma herself.

Part of the story is written in the present tense and Jemma realises her husband is missing and the search for him progresses. The other part is a series of flashbacks which tell us how she met her husband and how they ended up being on honeymoon on this most luxurious of islands.

Jemma is almost an unreliable narrator (almost, in that she’d got a bit high and forgotten what happened on the night of her husband’s disappearance). There are so many clues and red herrings that my theories as to what happened changed from chapter to chapter. There are a couple of twists on the way, but the final twist is pretty spectacular.

The writing is tight and feeling on claustrophobia that pervades the island is palpable. Jemma is an intriguing character. Jamie, Dan and their relationship is puzzling (partly because we mainly see them through Jemma’s eyes and everything is coloured by her opinions of them). We do eventually get a view into their thoughts and mostly, it was a surprise to see what they thought.

The story was so gripping that I was trying to work out the puzzle in between reading sessions (real life is so annoying when it’s getting in the way of a good book!). If you like tense psychological thrillers, you’ll love this book. I did.

I received a free copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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Book review: A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

A Cornish AffairA Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Jude leaves her best friend John stranded at the altar on her wedding day, she is not popular at home. She runs away to England and ends up taking a job sorting out a lifetime’s worth of paperwork for elderly academic Petroc Trevellion. While she’s there, she falls in love with the estate of Pengarrock… and meets Petroc’s son Tristan. As Jude discovers more about Pengarrock and its history, Jude also discovers more about herself.

There’s a mystery involving hidden treasure, a lovely romance and incredibly evocative descriptions of Cornwall. A lovely way to visit Cornwall with minimal risk of bad weather.

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The Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild

The Improbability of LoveThe Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s the story of a single painting ‘The Improbability of Love’ which is a lost masterpiece. The story of the painting touches many characters and their stories weave through each other’s. There’s head hopping (nicely done, and probably called moving psychic distance, but it still bothers me) reams of information in chunks and various digressions, but it’s so beautifully done and the characters are so compelling that it doesn’t matter.

Annie is a wannabe chef who buys a picture from a junk shop on a whim. Jesse is a museum guide and artist who falls in love with Annie. Rebecca is the second in command at one of the biggest art dealers in the country. There are are scores of characters and I felt for every one of them. Every time we moved from one character to the other, I missed the character I’d just left… until I got sucked back into the life of the character I was reading about now. They’re not all nice people, but they are, all of them, interesting and compelling.

The story itself is a mystery, with commentary on the world of art and the worlds of the super rich. I must admit, it’s not a world I know anything about, so it was fun to read about it. If you know about art, there are probably extra layers of interest in this book.

It’s the sort of book that I read and wish I could write like that.

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Book Review: Girl In Red Velvet by Margaret James

Girl in Red VelvetGirl in Red Velvet by Margaret James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lily goes to Oxford and meets two boys – Max and Harry. She ends up falling in love with them both. She slightly prefers Max, but Harry is the sensible choice. So she ends up married to Harry while Max travels around the world trying to get into as many dangerous situations as he can.

I had trouble warming to Lily. Max and Harry were both likeable and, when things go horribly wrong towards, they act in ways that are entirely understandable given the circumstances. This is an epic story that spans several decades. It’s about love and trust and forgiveness. The ending is beautiful.

Oxford plays a large part in the book, which made me all nostalgic for Norham Gardens.

The usual disclaimer – the author and I know each other (we write for the same publisher). I enjoy reading her books, which is why I request ARCs of her books from Netgalley. Which is just a longwinded way of saying ‘thank you to Netgalley for a free book in exchange for a review’.

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Goodreads Book Review: Discord by Katy Haye

Discord (Echoes of Earth, #1)Discord by Katy Haye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I’ve read Katy Haye’s other books and enjoyed them.

Beth is in a hospital that helps kids with brain damage recover from their trauma, with a particular emphasis on using music therapy. Right from the off, you realise that there’s something not quite right. The feeling of something being wrong grows through the book. Eventually, Beth and her boyfriend Toby find out what’s going on. I can’t tell you any more without giving it all away, sorry!

This is a very imaginative book, slightly creepy and quite dark in places. I enjoyed it.
So much so that I finished it and went straight on to read Dissent – the next book in the series.

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