Book Tour: The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James

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About the author

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Lynsey James was born in Fife. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad with her love of telling stories.

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey that writing wasn’t a “good option” and she believed her, trying all sorts of things including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company before she started writing full-time after she left her job a couple of years ago. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love with the whole thing and decided to finally pursue her dream.


Review

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The perfect summer romance for a sunny afternoon and a picnic in the park

We follow the ups and downs of Emily Reed, a hardworking and independent woman, who devastated after having  lost her promotion to Tara her co-worker who’s sleeping with the boss, her mother drops a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!

I’d rather do the eating trial from I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here than force down a fry-up.

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club is a funny and witty novel that throws you straight into Emily’s drama from the very beginning.

Although this is a second book in a series (something I hadn’t even realised when I first started reading it!) it works perfectly as a stand-alone book as I didn’t feel like I was missing any information or background not having read the first.

Along with her hilarious chum Frankie, I loved Emily’s sarcastic and straightforward tone which really eased me through this wonderfully magical romance as Emily has to choose between busy life in Glasgow and her newfound love of Luna Bay, a little village in Yorkshire.

‘Derek Simpson is your biological father.’

With that, my neat and ordered world slipped and crumbled around me.

“Setting up the Sunflower Cottage breakfast club should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is! The only problem is that brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Finding out the truth was never going to be simple, but she never thought her heart would get in the way…”


I hope you enjoyed this little review. Thanks to Carina and Neverland Book Tours for organising everything.

Don’t forget to follow if you like my reviews, I have a ‘Life of Pi’ one coming up soon!

Until another time,

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Book Tour: Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan? By Julia Wilmot + GIVEAWAY

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A little about the author…

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Julia Wilmot first discovered Transcendental Meditation (TM)  as a teenager at school. She was so sure of her path that she decided not to go to University and study law but devote herself to teaching TM and working with the charity that teaches the technique instead! She’s been a founder for a TM community and the Centre Chairman of the largest teaching centre for TM in Europe, based in Central London. 

As for this novel, Julia began it in 1995 but it remained in a drawer for many years. She came across it again in the early 2000s and finally finished it in 2015!

Julia currently focusses her attention on her writing, blogging and looking after her family. Forty years on and she still practises TM, as do her husband and son whom she lives with in Chilterns, Buckinghamshire. 

 

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My review!

‘Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?’ is spiritual from the very start. Its whole concept is based on the idea of rebirth and the idea that all souls have a plan that is completely forgotten once they are reborn. I love how each person on Earth is accompanied by a guardian angel and team of spirit guides that they can’t see.

It’s not possible for there to be a mistake in a world governed perfectly by the Divine. Mistakes are what we humans perceive when our vision is obscured.

It’s interesting that the word ‘death’ is never actually mentioned in the novel, it is always referred to as a  “recall” of the soul and that the aim of one’s ‘life’ is to complete everything left to do in life, except unlike a bucketlist, the tasks which each soul has to complete every time are pre-chosen.

Emma Butler only has one week left to live – a fact which set all my fear of death anxieties off – but has completed none of the tasks she had set herself for this life time. They must be completed before she is ‘recalled’ and time is running out so Arch Angel Gregory decides to take over. He will be her Guardian Angel to ensure it all gets done.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people were given a bit of notice so that they could get their affairs in order, say all those things that so often remain unsaid, heal all those old wounds…

The concept of this novel is fantastic in my opinion, I loved that Wilmot’s concept of heaven in the novel had a modern corporate twist i.e. Guardian Angel Control Room, files of all the souls, a hierarchal system of angels, and arranged meetings with GOD (reminds me of the 2010 film Tooth Fairy!)

This novel had lots of little quirks which made me giggle, the jokes about heaven not being computerised yet, and Gregory’s assistant,the clumsy Josh! As well as this, there was the physicalisation of figurative concepts e.g literal thinking caps.

He trolled out the events as though he was placing an order for a take away.

As well as being a fascinating concept which I hadn’t encountered in literature before, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Where is Emma Butler’s Life Plan?’ as it was well paced with timed humour and comic references to aspects of Western modernity such as health crazes and details about daytime reality television. I felt like this kept it current as well as funny.

His ego was so large that it needed it’s own LinkedIn entry.

 

Books seemed to be written about every awful thing that one human being could do to another in any and every continent of the world.

 

GIVEAWAY…

There is a giveaway of one of three paperback copies of the book to one lucky reader. Click here to be in with the chance of winning! (bear in mind that the giveaway is tour-wide) 

Good luck!

Thank you very much to Julia Wilmot and to Neverland Blog Tours for providing me with a copy of the novel, and letting me take part in the blog tour!

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#BangingBookClub: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

So Youtubers Hannah Witton, Leena Norms and Lucy Moon are  running a book reading club called #BangingBookClub. As opposed to making a video, I’ll be participating via my blog!

Their video review

The first in this year’s list is…

Asking For It by Louise O’Neil

**trigger warning:novel contains rape and descriptions of self-harm**

{Blog post will be referencing these}

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Is it possible to want everything to change and nothing to change, all at the same time?

This book got me thinking a lot about how we treat victims of rape, how every societal institution plays their part in victim blaming, through the eyes of the media, the law, local communities, and family & friends etc.

Admittedly, yes, the main character Emma was portrayed as an absolute bitch from the very beginning: she belittled her own friends, bullied her fellow students, and was generally a right pain in the arse. However, that dislike of her character I had felt at the start instantly disappeared once she became a victim.

While she wasn’t there for Jamie, her friend who also tells her that she was raped,she soon learns what it actually means to be. None of her friends are truly there for her, although after some initial hostility her friends talk to her again, there is still a sense of blame from them (Ali: “forgives” her for sleeping with Sean, the guy she fancies, the guy who rapes Emma).

Her parents are also very oblivious to how their behaviour is affecting their daughter. Emma’s Father ignores her completely, again reinforcing this feeling of self-blame within Emma, while her Mother turns to alcohol and becomes a victim instead of staying strong for her daughter who is an actual victim, always stopping short at ‘this wouldn’t have happened if… [you hadn’t gotten raped]’. Reading this through Emma’s eyes made me feel like nobody cared for her wants and needs, even when she decides to withdraw her complaint to please her parents, I felt like it was not what she truly wanted.

Media hysteria, and in this day and age, social media also, play a part in victim blaming, highlighted through the the snippets of the Ned O’Dwyer show that Emma eavesdrops on and sensationalist newspapers she finds.  

  •  What did she expect?
  •  Wearing skirts up to their arses
  •  She was asking for trouble

These kind of questions and thinking are preventing young women in situations like Emma’s from being helped.

Even religion’s part in the treatment of rape victims is criticised in the novel, with Father Michael, the book’s local priest, openly shaking hands with and giving his condolences to the perpetrators. I don’t want to go too much into it but I feel like many fundamentalist thinkers see women as temptresses, thus again enforcing this stereotype that women who are raped are to be blamed, especially in Catholic communities in Ireland like Ballinatoom, where the book is set in (which I can’t help thinking sounds like a fictitious Cbeebies town!)

The only characters who fully understand, or attempt to understand Emma, and are completely there for her throughout are Bryan (her brother) and Conor, whom are ironically both male (I’m not sure if O’Neill did this on purpose or not!)

Another thing which shocked me was how much the small community they lived in mattered to the issue so much, an aspect I hadn’t considered having lived in a city all my life. The fact that everybody knew each other  and that the perpetrators were considered to be ‘good local boys’ added to the disbelief of the fact that Emmie had been raped,her  Mother even going as far as to say that she didn’t understand how it could have happened because “he dressed nicely”.

And finally, I’d just like to comment on the injustice of the law that allowed Emma’s abusers to still walk free in her community and allowed them to continue harassing her. How is this allowed? I don’t completely know how the Irish justice system works in comparison to other parts of the UK or how claims of rape are dealt with, but the fact that abusers can get away with their behaviour and continue harassing and abusing is completely absurd to me.

I liked the use of the repetition of negative phrases throughout the book which Emma had heard and read about her, as it showed how much the negativity around her had impacted upon her, which I thought perfectly depicted the anxiety aspects of depression, the words going around and around in her head, squeezing into every part of your brain and chest, rendering you worthless and necessary, at least mentally anyway.

The novel ends on an ambiguous note, atypical of normal books, but it serves to indicate that it is not all rainbows and sunshine for victims like Emma, like all the Emmas of the world, who still have a long way to go and a lot of healing to go through.

I  really enjoyed this novel. I’m glad I read it as it gave me a lot to think about and really presented ideas of rape in a very thought provoking manner.

Thoughts? Have any of you read this before or would like to?


 

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues talked about here///

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call the Police on 999.

NHS Direct Helpline ‐ 24 hour medical advice and information service: 111

Alternatively, you can contact several voluntary organisations for emotional support:

The Samaritans | 0845 790 9090 | www.samaritans.org

Saneline |0845 767 8000 | www.sane.org.uk

RoI Rape Crisis Centre | 1800 77 8888 | www.drcc.ie

UK Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre | 0808 802 9999 | www.rasasc.org.uk


Don’t forget to follow!

Until next time,
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#10 Book Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

This book me took me a while to read, both because in all honesty it’s not genre I usually read and so it took me a while to really get into it, and because I’ve been so damn busy!

“soon she wouldn’t witness the miracle of blood and sinew responding to her thoughts. Soon she wouldn’t feel anything at all.”

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Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke tells the story of Gretchen, a former family friend of Adolf Hitler, who progressively finds out that things are not all what they seem. In falling in love with a Jewish boy, Daniel, and having to face all  the consequences that come with it during the unfolding of Nazi Germany, all the truths Gretchen once thought she knew start falling apart. The mesmerising authority figure of her childhood, Hitler, is not as charming and fantastical as he once seemed, and she even realises that her own father had his flaws. This applies to so many of us, the naïve view we have of our parents when we’re young is often faulted and tinged with childhood idolization before realising that they are in fact not as perfect as we thought and we could be a better person than them of we chose.

Additionally, all the stereotypes Gretchen has ever known are called into question throughout her evolution within the book. Jews are obviously not the “virus” that she was taught they were and even the corrupted and evil criminals she expects when she meets The Ringvereine men (a gang of criminals persecuted by the Nazis), she finds that they are much more complex than that. They treat her with kindness and welcome arms and Gretchen is surprised to see that their leader, Friedrich, is so kindly, especially in his gentle attitude towards his children, proving himself to be a better father than the upright National socialist her own father was.

“what would death be like? The fields of wildflowers and angels her childhood priest had preached about, or a void of blackness and silence?”

The only negative thing I can think to say is that at times I felt like Gretchen’s thought process was oversimplified and  2-dimensionalised , she would make correct decisions without explanation or deliberation, like when looking for the door to the Reichstag building, she managed to bypass two sets of forked corridors and get to her desired destination by an utter and complete miracle.

Despite knowing what was going to happen in terms of the historical aspect of the book, as I knew what the events were that led to Hitler becoming Chancellor, and later on Führer, especially regarding Enabling Act, the fact that the story intertwined fiction with history meant that you could really focus on the main story and become invested in the heart-wrenchingly beautiful relationship between David and Gretchen without the fact that you knew what was going to happen historically becoming an anticlimax.

Thank you to bookbridg and Headline Publishing for sending me this book, all opinions (and this whole review in fact) are my own!


Opinions/comments – tell me what you think! And if you haven’t read it, would you like to?

As always, follow Acreativegirlnadia for more of my book reviews and other such things!

Hasta pronto,

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TBT #8:The Haunting of Ellen by Martin Waddell

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Eight-year-old Nadia has left the building! For the new batch of throwbacks, I have included some book reviews I had to do for school (hence the marking). These were completed in 2007 where I would have been ten years old.

Enjoy!

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Transcript

I think this fiction book is the best i’ve ever read because it’s mixed with fiction present and fiction past.

I wonder if the old local legend is actually true, I think it is true because I can’t believe that the author Martin Waddel [sic] made up such a credulous legend. I would not like to bump into a ghost or want a ghost giving me images of when she/he was alive, like what happened to Ellen.

I like the way Martin(author) dind’t [sic] tell you what was happening to Ellen until the end of the story but he did give you little clues along the way.It would be great if there was a dark secret in a legend that no one kew  [sic] and my friends and I could investigate. If I belonged to the Mooney family I would be sick with all of the younger children moaning all the time.


 

Great conclusion Nadia. “I would be sick” – what?!?

Oh well, at least my spelling was alright eh?

Hasta luego,

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#9 Book Review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

Holy Cow  tells the story of Elsie, an anthropomorphic cow with human attributes which receive no acknowledgement and no explanation, who along with a turkey and pig, escapes her farm in order to pursue her dream.

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“Oh yeah, we believe in God. In the shape of a cow. Not really. Scared you,though, didn’t I?”

Although it took me longer than expected to read, due to both my impending coursework deadline and difficulty to immerse myself into the story, I on the whole greatly enjoyed this satirical tale.

Reading some reviews on Goodreads (as you do), many people complained about its rambliness (not a word, I know) but I think that that’s the whole point. It acts as an inconsequential kids book to serve the purpose of the satire that Duchovny means to present.

This humorous novel is arguably the best satire of the twenty-tens. In what other context would a turkey, a pig and a cow solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?! It is a criticism of human selfishness and behaviour, our obsession with technology, and animal mistreatment and farming.

“You people are funny, constantly thinking about eating and trying to look like you never eat at the same time”

“Humans will eat almost anything if you put a little salt and butter on it”

With the discovery of what cows are turned into when they mysteriously disappear (did someone say burger?!), Elsie explores ideas about human superiority and how humans feel like they have power over every other being . All animals are sentient, and I feel like this book serves to show this. Although we wouldn’t quite agree, Elsie reinforces this by joking “you think plants don’t have feelings? Maybe not the type of feelings you and I have, but they do have planty feelings…”. I mean plants clearly don’t have a brain, but that’s besides the point!

“Hate is like a poison you make for your enemy that you end up swallowing yourself”

As Elsie points out, we do not want to be reviled, but its is not right to want to be worshipped either. Every one of us is equal, both amongst people and on the wider scale of within the whole animal kingdom too.

I enjoyed how it broke the fourth wall, with Elsie going into tangents about her editor and what she would do if her story was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster – I mean who wouldn’t want to be played by Jennifer Lawrence? (2015 pop culture references down!)

“innocence is nice, but the world offers us more and it’s wrong not to take it. You can’t stay a calf forever.”

We all eventually grow out of oblivious innocence, and even though some, like Mallory, are content to stay where they are, many of us,like Elsie, will yearn to get out and explore the wider world and what we can learn from it.

And even though Elise, Tom (the turkey) and Shalom (the pig’s) big beyond the seas dreams don’t come true…

…” it’s not important that dreams come true,it’s just important that you have a dream to begin wit, to get you to take your first steps.”


 

I hope you enjoyed this slightly different style of book review. I don’t know if it’s all this essay writing, but I’ve somehow developed this need to jot down any quotes I particularly like.

I don’t normally read satires, so this was definitely an interesting read and a genre I will definitely look out for more.

Thank you to bookbridg and Headline Publishing for sending me this book, all opinions (and this whole review in fact) are my own!

As always, subscribe to follow my brain in book-review form.

Hasta luego,

Nadia xx

#TBT 7: Mr Majeika and the Lost Spell Book by Humphrey Carpenter

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It is about…

A wizard who becomes a teacher but then gets sacked for using his majic [sic] when he wasn’t sopoesed [sic] to. Bad for him because he then looses his spell book the only way to get his powers back is to find the map wich [sic] leeds [sic] to the old back door.

What sticks out most in my mind is…

When Hamish Bigamore is doing the wizzard  test and hets all the questions wrong.


 

Spelling, oh Nadia, SPELLING! What on Earth is “sopoesed”?

Pity follow for 8-year-old-Nadia?!

Hasta pronto,

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#TBT 6: The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson

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Transcript

It is about…

Some of Tracy Beaker’s life hard and difficult life

What sticks out most in my mind is…

When Tracy lies and sais[sic] that she hasn’t ber broken Justine’s clock an but then sais[sic] the truth (But she still sais[sic] she han’t[sic] done it) .


 

SAYS, Nadia, it’s says with a Y! Is it just me who took ages to learn that?

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#8 Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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Although I feel as though I’m a little too old for this (despite mentions of drugs, sex, and swearing – okay maybe not TOO old?!), I know that this is the kind of book I know I would have absolutely loved when I was younger. The kind of book where a character takes something trivial and exaggerates it into huge profundity. In this case, the need to fill up the hole of a break up with a ‘replacement’.

One of the issues Colin explores in this novel is the existential crisis of needing to matter. It is an idea that I have struggled with for a long time, and many others probably have too – the idea of wanting to be someone and make your mark on the world. As Colin muses, “I just want to do something that matters. Or be something that matters. I just want to matter”. You want to matter so that you aren’t simply slowly forgotten until eventually everyone who knew you is gone and then it is as if you never existed in the first place. Nothing but a forgotten being in “the ground”, “where we all go”.

I guess this book has taught me that you don’t have to do something grandiose and genius in order to matter. Small changes, like Hollis working extra and hiding the fact that her company was going bust in order to not have to fire people and help out the ‘oldsters’ with their pensions. Or even telling a story that’ll  change someone’s perspective or life in the most infinitesimal way, as Colin discovers. Even doing something  meaningful with your life, doing something rather than “just sucking food and water and money out of the world” as Hassan realises.

“There’s no level of fame or genius that allows you to transcend oblivion”. In the end the future will “swallow us up” and erase everything, and no matter who you were or what level of fame you’ve reached in your life, eventually it won’t matter. Even the greatest philosopher we know of today will eventually be forgotten – and that’s sort of comforting! (I think…)

Colin feels frustrated at not being able to calculate his theorem, he feels he’s not genius enough. But the fact of the matter is, we can never scientifically or mathematically predict the future (whether that is predicting who will be the dumpee /dumper or otherwise). The past can easily be accounted for and mapped out, but the future (cheesy as this sounds) is what you make of it! And I’m glad Colin had this realisation.

Just like the future, personality is not set in stone either. Lindsey feels like a chameleon. She is a different person around different people. But thinking about it, we’re all like that really – smiley and hard-working around teachers (well…), obedient around our parents and our wildest versions of ourselves with our friends. And this brings up the question: who’s the real me? After this realisation Colin feels like everything he knew about himself is gone. But aren’t we all these different versions of ourselves? We simply show a different side to different groups of people – but they all add up to make you you- right? And as the characters in AAOK progress they figure this out too, they can be all these versions of themselves and remake themselves however they like. You can be whoever you want to be.

Even though the Maths was extremely confusing (thank God for the appendix at the end!), I honestly thought An Abundence of Katherines was funny, culturally aware and I loved the little annotations at the bottom. Despite the fact that I’m clearly not the target demographic (age-wise) for this novel, it did give me a lot to think about and I definitely enjoyed it!

Have any of you read AAOK before? What did you think of it? Please let me know!

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back”

Follow if you haven’t already to keep up with my rambles (if you want…)

Hasta luego,

Nadia xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBT #5 : A Monster of a Hamster by Elizabeth Hawkins

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Sorry for the lack of normal book review posts, I’m currently bugged down with coursework! I’ll try and do one as soon as possible!

So for now… another throwback Thursday review…

A Monster of a Hamster by Elizabeth Hawkins 

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Transcript

It is about…

A girl and boy have called Anna-Louise and Luke have to look after the class pet for the Holiday but they loose[sic] it and think up a great plan but have to tell the twins David and Delia the teachers pet.

What sticks out most in my mind is…

When Anna-Louise, Luke, David and Delia have caught the hamster and sneek[sic] into the school to exchange it from the pretend one!


 

I’m not sure that ‘about’ summary made the most sense, but I’ve improved much since then..right? (Right?!)

Also fyi, according to Google:

Loose: “not firmly or tightly fixed in place; detached or able to be detached”

Lose: ” become unable to find”

She’ll learn the difference one day…
(Took me a while though!)

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