Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Ronaldo: Rudi's Birthday Extravaganza - Maxine Sylvester

Date of Reading: 19/11/2019
Author: Maxine Sylvester
Publication Date: September 29, 2017
Source: Ebook provided by the author 
Rating: 5/5

About the book:

It is summertime in Beresford. Ronaldo and Rudi are beside themselves with excitement: Monty the Moose, the most incredible Magician in the whole world is performing at Rudi’s birthday party!

But before the festivities begin, there’s the important matter of The Reindeer Flyover, an ancient tradition of The Reindeer Flying Academy that marks the end of the school term. But Rudi might not be able to fly. He’s injured his hoof and refuses to see Doctor Kloppen. Rudi is terrified of needles and, rumour has it, the Doctor’s needle is the size of a rocket!

Meanwhile, Ronaldo meets celebrity baker, Mrs Sorensson, and offers to deliver her cakes to ‘Carrot’s ‘N’ Cakes’ bakery before flying school. The weather is hot so Ronaldo rushes through the forest so he can deliver the cakes before the icing melts. But trouble is lurking in the woods. Dasher and his menacing brothers, Comet and Prancer, are hiding in the bushes. Waiting for Ronaldo!


      This is the third book in the 'Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer' series. Having read the other two I was really excited to have this copy from the author and it doesn't disappoint. You don't have to read the other books to know the premise, but I highly recommend it. These books are super cool and funny no matter your age.
       The story revolves around the events leading to Rudi's birthday party. There is a visit to the doctor (poor Rudi!), the end of term exams and a lot of delicacies to eat as we are getting acquainted with Mrs. Sorensson. There will be tons to laugh about and the pictures are beautiful. I think our dear hero is showing the signs of a potbelly. Careful there Ronaldo. We need you whole and healthy for the workshop to come in the next book.

Meet the author:

I was born in Hounslow, Middlesex in the south of England. As a child, I loved drawing and took private art classes with a wonderful teacher called, Pearl Lee. She had an abundance of Disney magazines, and I would paint the characters on wood, card, canvas or anything else I was allowed to use, including walls.
When I was nine, my mum took me on holiday to Majorca. I clearly remember being fascinated by how other people lived outside of England. Travelling became my new obsession.

After Sixth Form College, I intended to go to art school, but my travel bug got the better of me and chose to work as a holiday representative in Greece instead. This was followed by seven years working on cruise ships, two years in Israel and Palestine, and six years in Russia and Armenia. Although I lapped up the different cultures, I found my work over the years very unfulfilling. I decided to dig out my Caran d’Arche pencils, and do something about it!

I enrolled in The College of Cartoon Art and was mentored by the renowned caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. I created a character called Ronaldo and decided to write a short story about him. Before I knew it, my head was spinning with ideas and the first book, The Reindeer Flying Academy, went from a small picture book into a full-blown chapter book … but more importantly, I loved every minute of the writing and illustrating process.

Nowadays, I live in Bali, Indonesia, with my amazing partner, Mark, (Bristol born and bred) and am currently illustrating the third book for the Ronaldo series, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza.

I am still a self-confessed Disney geek and get excited as a five-year-old whenever a new Disney animated film comes out. I love the Disney theme parks and have visited Orlando, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo – California and Shanghai are next on my bucket list.

I have an unhealthy fondness for pizza and chocolate but a healthy love of Pilates - I like to think they balance each other out. And finally, I am a lifelong Arsenal supporter … although sometimes I wish I wasn’t!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge 2019

     This year I am going to participate in the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge starting from November 25th. Here are the rules:
  • challenge will run from Monday, November 25, 2019, through Monday, January 6, 2020 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany).
  • cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged! 
  • These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level! 

--Candy Cane: read 1 book
--Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
--Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)

Additional levels:

--Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas's up to you!
--Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read

*the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above.
 I am going to keep my expectations to the minimum and aim for Mistletoe. Who knows I may get a Christmas Tree eventually. . .
At present the following books are in the list:
  • One Night on Ice - Mandy Baggot
  • Starlight over Bluebell Castle - Sarah Bennett
  • Let it Snow - Sue Moorcroft
  • One Day in December - Josie Silver
  •  Christmas Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
  • We Met in December - Rosie Curtis
Wish me luck! Have a great festive season everyone. . .

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Magic Under the Mistletoe - Lucy Coleman (Blog Tour)

Date of Reading: 14/11/2019
Author: Lucy Coleman
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: September 5, 2019
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5
(This review is part of the blog tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources)
About the book:
Christmas and romance are in the air... 
It's December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn't relishing spending Christmas at his family's country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They'll spend half of the holidays with each other's families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten...?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols, something seems to have changed... It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!


       The fake date trope has been used and reused by many authors but one could never get tired of this storyline. So when I got this book, I was expecting a very predictable albeit relaxing storyline. Suffice to say, I was never prepared for this unique take on such an age-old storyline.
     Leesa Oliver is not a swooning heroine; she is a businesswoman keeping to the realities of life. Wedding? Been there, done that and now it is over. So a business contract to pretend to be someone's boyfriend (even if he is a hot CEO), is not supposed to be hard. Surprisingly, she keeps to her bargain. There is an attraction for sure, but both know from their experience that chemistry won't necessarily mean a happy marriage. As you must have guessed by now, this is a slow-burning romance. Written solely from Leesa's perspective, we come to know of a really powerful and caring woman who comes to her decision with the head as well as her heart.
      And it is not simply about two lovers. This is also the story of two families mending their inner struggles with the help of these two brilliant, brave people. Spanning from one Christmas to another, this also brings the two families together as an ideal marriage should be. They are really an entertaining bunch, especially Cressida, Cary's grandmother. I relished each moment with her as if I have read all her romance works.
      Beginning with a Christmas where winter roars with fury and ending in the next year under the mistletoe, Lucy Coleman has produced a well crafted, brilliantly engineered Christmas story to remind us once again that the season is magical whether we believe it or not. So hop on guys, we are in for a ride . . .

Meet the author:

From interior designer to the author, Linn - who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman - says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’ When she’s not writing or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been shortlisted in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.


Saturday, 16 November 2019

Identity - Camille Peters

Date of Reading: 10/10/2019
Author: Camille Peters
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: I am a Reader 
Rating: 3/5
About the book:
Anwen's uncanny resemblance to Princess Lavena has been a curse since the moment she entered her service, as the spoiled princess has frequently used it to her advantage by forcing Anwen to switch places with her. But Princess Lavena’s latest scheme is her worst—and most dangerous—yet: compelling Anwen to take the princess’s place in her marriage to her loathed fiancĂ©, Prince Liam.

Bound by an enchanted contract not to reveal the charade, Anwen is forced to go through with the masquerade and endure a marriage to a man who despises the woman he believes her to be. As time goes on, Anwen struggles not only to maintain her identity, but to fight her deepening feelings as she begins to fall in love with her new husband, a man who not only isn't hers to keep but who has no idea who she really is.

Inspired by “The Goose Girl”
      'Identity' is the third book in the Kingdom Chronicles, a series focusing on the retelling of fairy tales. And this time we have The Goose Girl. Prince Liam is one of the characters I loved in the first book and here also he doesn't disappoint a bit. The funny, easy-going boy has not changed at all. We also get to see some of the characters from the previous books, and that was another boost. Don't fret if you haven't touched the other books, this can perfectly be read as a standalone.
     While the first book -- 'Identity' -- is still my favourite, this story has its plus points. Narrated from the view of Anwen, the maid of Princess Lavena (she is as scary as before), we are introduced to a slow-burning romance that will keep you in angst just like the original fairy tale. We get to see a bunch of splendid characters, including Liam's sisters and Anwen's brother. I really hope that the author has a story planned for each of them because this is a series I hate to say goodbye.
     Now to the things that I didn't love. For one, the plot could have been more complex since it had all the elements necessary and a very 'good' villain. Another thing is the way the author gave out the insecurities enveloping Anwen during her false charade. This became too tedious and repetitive as the story progressed. Good editing and revision could have produced better results. Anyway, these are just my thoughts.
    If you are a fan of fairy tale retellings, then this is a series not to be missed. Even with the minor blemishes I truly enjoyed the story and would love to see it extended.
Meet the author:
Camille Peters was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah where she grew up surrounded by books. As a child, she spent every spare moment reading and writing her own stories on every scrap of paper she could find. Becoming an author was always more than a childhood dream; it was a certainty.

Her love of writing grew alongside her as she took local writing classes in her teens, spent a year studying Creative Writing at the English University of Northampton, and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English and History. She’s now blessed to be a full-time author.

When she’s not writing she’s thinking about writing, and when’s she’s not thinking about writing she’s…alright, she’s always thinking about writing, but she can also be found reading, playing board games with her family and friends, or taking long, bare-foot walks as she lives inside her imagination and brainstorms more tales.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

One Week 'Til Christmas - Belinda Missen

Date of Reading: 10/11/2019
Author: Belinda Missen
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: November 1, 2019
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5

About the book:

Two people. One chance meeting. Seven days to Christmas.

Isobel Bennett is waiting for the number 11 bus when a man quite literally falls into her lap. Snow is falling, Christmas lights are twinkling, and a gorgeous man with dark brown hair has just slipped on ice and is now pressed against Isobel.

Isobel knows she’s not imagining the chemistry between them. But then his ride arrives and, embarrassed, he beats a hasty retreat, murmuring apologies – and Isobel realises only too late that she didn’t manage to catch his name…

When she runs into him again the next morning, she decides it’s fate.

It’s a second chance for Isobel and Tom – but there’s only one week until she’s leaving London for good. Seven days of enjoying all the festive delights the city has to offer: ice-skating at Somerset House, mulled wine on the Southbank, Christmas shopping at Liberty.

There’s magic in the air and mistletoe in the trees – but what will happen when the week is over?

For fans of Josie Silver, Lucy Diamond and Marian Keyes, this is one Christmas romance you don’t want to miss!


       Being a hardcore fan who gobbles up all her beautiful rom coms, I surely deserve a Christmas present from Belinda Missen. And . . . voila . . . here it is . . . a magical Christmas romance set in the wintry London. It's beautiful, funny, romantic and so, what can I say, Christmaseque!
    Beginning with an accident, fate has thrust Isobel into the arms of a popular actor and they have seven days to check whether the chemistry between them is for the long run or not. As you can expect this is a bumpy ride, considering the fact that they are from two sides of the world -- Australia and England. How can it work? Surely we need a Santa with his magic powder.
      While reading I was more invested in the way Missen constructs a Christmas side of London than the romance bit. Every page seems to provide a visual travelogue and for someone who has never been to London, this was a total treat. Ice-skating, mulled wine, Christmas market . . . well, festivities are in the air. This is a story that will wrap and encase you completely in a real but magical world and just like the sweet dreams in the mornings, you will never want it to end. Highly recommended!

Meet the author:

Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away.

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.     

Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Poison Bed - E. C. Fremantle

Date of Reading: 07/11/2019
Author: E. C. Fremantle
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published Year: 2018
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

About the book:

A king, his lover and his lover's wife. One is a killer.

In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious family. He is one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

Some believe she is innocent; others think her wicked or insane. He claims no knowledge of the murder. The king suspects them both, though it is his secret at stake.

Who is telling the truth? Who has the most to lose? And who is willing to commit murder?


      What will you do if your best friend is besotted with an evil person? If you are someone who will resort to any means to save your friend, then you need to hear this story. The death of Thomas Overbury is a lesson that history teaches us; in the tug of war between friendship and love, the winner will always be the latter. 
      Reading 'The Poison Bed' helped me brush up some of my history lessons. The fact that I was not familiar with this poisoning case which shook the Jacobean court at least played in my favour. But those who are familiar with the story will surely know the real culprit. All the same, this is going to give you a different perspective and will surely satisfy the history buff in you.
     Fremantle's beautiful and strong writing shook me and I closed the book with a feeling of distaste to all this political warfare. No one is invincible here and a mere lack of judgement will result in the downfall of even the mightiest. Isn't that one of the amusing things about historical fiction? It gives the reader a sense of power which comes from the knowledge of the futures of the characters involved. The story of Robert Carr and Frances Howard is no different. A love story, a murder, a tragedy -- you can call it what you may. It is all these.

Meet the author:

As a child I was the one in the corner with my nose in a book who wanted to be a writer, but with the onset of a turbulent adolescence I left school, under a cloud, aged fifteen with nothing more than a fistful of O Levels and a hapless sense that things would somehow work themselves out. Eventually, after working in various dodgy dives – I've served grey scrambled eggs to squaddies at 5.30am; I've served vintage champagne to raucous hoorays; I've pulled pints for all and sundry – I managed to find myself, much in the way Forrest Gump always landed on his feet, working as a dogsbody on a fashion magazine. Over a decade, I worked for titles such as Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times and contributed to many others. Marriage took me to Paris, a stint at French Vogue and the birth of my two children but divorce saw me back home in London where I have remained. Fuelled by frustration with a fashion world that does no favours to women, I decided to complete my truncated education as a mature student which led, in a long and roundabout way with many frustrating impasses, to my fulfilling that childhood dream to become a novelist. 
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