Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Baby Update Number 3!

Thought that I would do one last baby update as a few people have asked to see some pictures of the nursery now that we have finally finished decorating etc! Baby Scribbles is due tomorrow but I'm not convinced that she will be on time as she seems quite comfy in there at the moment.
As you can see we have gone quite pink with the nursery (this was down to Dr S, not me) so we are in quite big trouble if the sonographer got it wrong! Think it would have to be a 60 minute makeover situation!
I think we are as ready as we are going to be, I'm so pleased with the nursery, my lovely sister and her husband gave us so much help with it and I think she will be very happy in there!
As you can see there are some books on the shelves already but I am pretty sure that these will be added to, I can't wait to read to her and introduce her to lots of exciting and magical characters.




Hopefully the next baby update will be letting you know about her arrival so watch this space!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review: Never Mind the Botox: Rachel PLUS Author Interview


Never Mind the Botox is a series about four professional women all working on the sale of a high profile cosmetic surgery business, The Beau Street Group. Each book reveals how the women cope with one of the most glamorous but challenging deals of their careers and the dramatic impact it has on their personal lives. With a briefcase in one hans and a glass of wine in the other, can they navigate their way through a surreal world of boob jobs by day and intrigue by night- and still keep their own love lives on track?
Rachel Altman is a corporate financier with a prestigious accounting firm who's desperately trying to keep on the straight and narrow. Hopelessly led astray by her bar diving boyfriend, she gets the chance to turn things around when her boss gives her the break she's been waiting for. But when the deal doesn't go as planned Rachel panics, sparking off a chain of betrayal and lies that threatens to ruin both her love life and her career.
Rachel is the second book in The Never Mind the Botox series. I read the first book, Alex last year and really enjoyed it. Rachel is the corporate financier working on The Beau Street Group deal. The books are not sequels so you don't need to read them in order; the idea is that each book deals with a different female character working on the same deal at the same time. Joanna Berry qualified as a solicitor and Penny Avis as an accountant so they both bring their knowledge and experience of the corporate business world to the writing process. Rachel, like Alex in the previous book is trying to juggle a high powered career with her personal life. I think that is what makes these books to refreshing; the fact that they are extremely realistic. I have to say that I didn't take to Rachel as much as I did Alex as i don't feel as though I got to know her as well.
I think that this is a really interesting series in that it is offering something new to the chick lit genre; the books are entertaining with a good pace and they are not afraid to portray realistic, strong, driven women having a career and a fulfilling personal life.

Dot Scribbles Rating 4/5

Many thanks to the lovely people at Midas PR for sending me a copy of the book to review.

I was also lucky enough to interview Penny Avis and Joanna Berry, here's what they had to say:


1.       Do you have a personal favourite out of the four books?
We designed all four stories before we started writing any of the books and found it very hard to choose between them, as we made sure that we divided our favourite story lines between them! It would be like having to choose between our children!That said, we get very passionate about each book as it is published so we are both totally in ‘Rachel mode’ at the moment.

2.        Do you have any disagreements when writing the books, if so how do you come to a joint decision and move on?
We had debates rather than disagreements. We always tried to look at things from a reader’s perspective, rather than from one or other of our viewpoints. Our commercial backgrounds meant that we were both used to taking criticism and looking at things very objectively, which also helped. We also tended to defer to whoever felt more passionate about the point and that helped us move on quickly.


3.       You both lead very busy and successful lives, just like the women in your books, what do you do in order to relax and get away from it all?

We both love to spend time with our families. Children are a great reminder of what’s really important, so we don’t take things too seriously. We also spend time with friends, exercise as much as we can and do plenty of partying!

4.       Congratulations on the TV series, will you be involved in the development of it etc?
Thank you and yes, which is great for a couple of control freaks like us! We have signed a joint venture agreement as partners with Future Films, rather than just signed over the rights to the books. So we’ll be involved every step of the way.



If you would like to find out more about these books or the author's themselves then check out their website here. 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

New to Dot Scribbles Shelves

I have received so many great books recently! I only have a week to go until the baby is due so I am trying to read as quickly as possible and hopefully I will get back into it quite quickly once she has arrived. Anyway here are some of the books that I have received recently, let me know your thoughts on any of them:


Pear Shaped by Stella Newman (Avon, 26th January) Sophie Klein walks into a bar one Friday night and her life changes. She meets James Stephens; charismatic, elusive, and with a hosiery model ex who casts a long, thin shadow over their burgeoning relationship. He's clever, funny and shares her greatest pleasure in life: to eat and drink slightly too much and then have a little lie down. Sophie's instinct tells her James is too good to be true- and he is. An exploration of love, heartbreak and lots of food. Pear Shaped is in turns smart, laugh-out-loud funny and above all, recognizable to women everywhere.


All the Single Ladies by Jane Costello (Simon and Schuster, 2nd February) Samantha Brooks' boyfriend Janie is a loving , intelligent and, while he isn't perfect, he's perfect for her- in every way except one: he's a free spirit. And after six years in one place. doing a job he despises, he is compelled to do something that will tear apart his relationship with Same: book a one-way flight to South America. But Sam isn't giving up without a fight. She has three months to persuade him to do the right thing. So, with the help of her friends Ellie and Jen, she hatches a plan to make him realize what he's giving up. A plan that involves dirty tricks, plotting and a single aim: to win him back. But by the time the tortured Jamie finally wakes up to what he's lost, a gorgeous new pretender has entered Sam's life. Which begs the question... does she still want him back?

The Angel at No. 33 by Polly Williams (Headline Review, 2nd February) Sophie cannot leave the people she loves. Her husband, Ollie- a man who once watered a houseplant for a year before realising it was plastic- is lost without her. Their son Freddie is so little. And her friend Jenny? There's something she desperately needs to know before it's too late.


Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead (Bantam Books, 2nd February) The Otherworld, a mystic land inextricably linked to our own- and balanced precariously on one woman's desperate courage...
Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markam strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld... The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy King Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape-shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't- or won't- reveal. And as a formidable force rises to threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon- and risk the ultimate sacrifice...


The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich (Ebury Press, 16th February) Hannah Levi is famed throughout Venice for her skills as a midwife but, as a Jew, the law forbids her from attending a Christian woman. However, when the Conti di Padovani appears at her door in the dead of the night to demand her services, Hannah's compassion is sorely tested. And with the handsome reward he is offering she could ransom back her imprisoned husband. But if she fails in her endeavours to save mother and child, will she be able to save herself, let alone her husband?

Between a Mother and her Child by Elizabeth Noble (Michael Joseph, 16th February) For Maggie and Bill it was love at first sight... One impulsive wedding later and with the arrival of three perfect children, Jake, Aly and Stan, the Barrett family seem to have it all. Until the day their world stops turning. When Jake dies suddenly, they're swept away on a tide of grief that fractures Maggie and Bill's marriage. She and the children are left clinging to the wreckage of their family. And they need help, because in her grief Maggie is in danger of losing Aly and Stan too. Enter Kate, housekeeper, companion and shoulder to cry on. She's here to pick up the pieces and fix what isn't completely broken. But can Maggie trust Kate? And why is Kate so keen to help? When Bill falls for another woman, Maggie realizes she will have to fight to put her family back together- but will they still want her?

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz (Harper Collins) The Pendleton stands on the summit of Shadow Hill, a palace built in the late 19th century as a tycoon's dream home. But its grandeur has been scarred by episodes of madness, suicide and mass murder. Since being converted into luxury apartments in the '70's, however, the Pendleton has been at peace. For it's fortunate residents- among them ex-marine Bailey Hawk, songwriter Twyla Trahern and her young son Winny- the Pendleton is a sanctuary, its dark past all but forgotten. But now inexplicable shadows caper across walls, security cameras relay impossible images, phantom voices mutter in strange tongues, not-quite human figures lurk in the basement, elevators plunge into unknown depths. It seems that whatever drove past occupants to their unspeakable fates is at work again. As nightmare visions become real, a group of extraordinary individuals hold the key to humanity's destiny.








Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Book Review: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, where secrets are thicker than the town's famous fog.
Once upon a time, Willa Jackson's family owned the beautiful house on top of the ridge. Now it symbolises her family's ruin and a legacy Willa longs to escape from.
Paxton Osgood also yearns to break free, especially from her parents' expectations and the heartbreak of unrequited love. Desperate for a distraction, she decides to restore the empty mansion to its former glory. But the discovery of a long buried secret, a friendship that defies time, and a touch of magic, will transform both women's lives in ways they could ever have expected.
I haven't read anything by Sarah Addison Allen before but I found The Peach Keeper really interesting. The book is set in North Carolina and centres around the characters of Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood, two females with very different characters. Paxton has been restoring The Blue Ridge Madam, the big house overlooking the town, she wants to use it's grand re-opening as a hotel to celebrate the town's womens' society of which her grandmother and Willa's were founding members. For Willa, the old house represents the troubles in her family's past. The Jacksons used to own the house and it is something that Willa would rather not be reminded of. However, a human skull is discovered under the old peach tree in the grounds of the house and Willa and Paxton's surviving grandmother's suddenly have a lot of questions to answer.
I did find this book really interesting, I think it was the mysterious events of the past that kept me reading rather than what was happening in the present. For some reason I didn't really take to either Paxton or Willa as characters  but I still enjoyed the strong theme of friendship that the author explored through these two women.
The Peach Keeper is  extremely well written and Sarah Addison Allen is very good at presenting dysfunctional people and relationships. I wish I had taken to the main characters a little more but this won't put me off trying the author's other books.

Dot Scribbles rating: 3.5/5

Many thanks to Hodder for sending me a copy of the book to review, The Peach Keeper is published on Thursday 17th January.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

They say that the cure for love will  make me happy and safe forever. And I've always believed them. Until now. Now everything has changed. Now I'd rather be infected with love for the tiniest sliver of a second than live hundreds of years suffocated by a lie.
There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. Even kill for it. Then at last they found the cure. 

Wow is the only word I could think of when reading this book. I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get round to reading it but it is a book that will be staying on my shelves forever.
Our protagonist is Lena Haloway and she in ninety-five days from the cure. The cure for Amor Deliria Nervosa, otherwise known as love. Lena lives in a quite similar looking world to our own but in this world love is a disease that people are routinely cured of by their eighteenth birthdays. Lena's older sister has had the operation which removes part of the brain and is now living her life as one of the cured. Lena's mother is not spoken about; she received the procedure three times but again and again it failed. She took her own life, Lena is counting down the days until her own procedure as then she will be safe.
However, Lena does not bargain on meeting Alex. She does not plan on becoming sick with the Deliria but suddenly she is no longer counting down the days to her procedure with excitement but with abject horror instead. How will she live forever without this feeling, without Alex and all he has come to mean to her?
This book just blew me away. It is a fantastic concept and expertly delivered by Lauren Oliver. Although officially young adult fiction, this book is definitely one that is capable of crossing over. Oliver's writing is truly beautiful and I felt that she conveyed love in so many different ways. It is not just about love for another person but a love of life, beauty, music, literature and so many other things that we take for granted every single day.
Lena is an extremely interesting character, her reaction to Alex is fascinating; she has had so much fear instilled in her about falling in love that she is almost frightened of him at first. But in some ways love really is like a disease as when it truly happens, you are powerless to stop it. Alex is also a great character and entirely believable. I liked the fact that Lauren Oliver did not try to over sell him as some YA authors seem to do with their male characters. Alex is very ordinary, he loves Lena even though he is aware of the danger that places them both in.
I can't really say much more about this book without giving the plot away. I do urge you to read it though. It has made me think so much since I finished it and i don't think that a book that has the ability to do that should be missed.

Dot Scribbles Rating 5/5

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Book Review: Belle by Lesley Pearse

She witnessed a murder- and now her life is in danger...
Fifteen year-old bell, though raised in a London brothel, is an innocent. But when she witnesses one of the girls brutally strangled by a client, she is cast into a cruel, heartless world. Snatched from the streets and sold into prostitution, she is made a courtesan in New Orleans. At the mercy of desperate men who crave her beauty and will do anything to keep her, Belle dreams of home, family and freedom appear futile.
Are Belle's courage and spirit strong enough to help her escape? And what will await her at the end of the long, dangerous journey home?
This book was recommended to me by the lovely Lou Graham whose blog you can find here. I had received The Promise which is the sequel for review and I asked on Twitter if I needed to read Belle first. Lou said yes and that it was her favourite book of 2011, after reading it for myself, I can understand why.
Lesley Pearse sets Belle's story in 1910 and when we meet Belle she is living in her mother's brothel in the notorious Seven Dials in London. At 15, Belle is innocently unaware of what goes on upstairs in her mother's house until one fateful night when she witnesses the violent murder of Millie by the hands of one of her customers. On realisation that Belle is a witness, the murderer snatches her off the street and sells her into prostitution, initially in France and then bawdy New Orleans. What follows is two parallel stories; on the one hand we follow Belle and her terrifying ordeal and on the other hand we stay with the people who she leaves behind and the struggles they face to try and get her back.
I enjoyed both sides of the story equally, they are linked by the world of prostitution at the time and the danger and corruption involved. Mog is Belle's mother's maid but she pretty much brought Belle up and views her as her daughter. Mog is relentless in her mission to find Belle and enlists the help of Jimmy who is a friend of Belle's and Noah, an investigator and journalist who was close to the murdered Millie. These three demonstrate their loyalty and love for Belle by placing themselves in danger and never giving up on their search.
Belle's ordeal is quite difficult to read about at times. Lesley Pearse provides some very graphic descriptions of what Belle endures at the hands of some very violent and desperate men. It is evident just how much research has gone into this book and I found the events described in Paris, London and New Orleans to be fascinating.
Belle is long at just under 600 pages but I flew through it. Lesley Pearse has a great way of leaving you wanting more at the end of each chapter.
Belle is a great book and I can't wait to find out what happens to her next in The Promise and to also try some of Lesley Pearse's other books as she certainly knows how to deliver a good story.

Dot Scribbles Rating 5/5 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Book Review: Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

It's not every day that a gorgeous guy carrying a sword kneels right at your feet. Especially not in the car park of an ice cream parlour in front of all your friends. They may be impressed, but Eloise Hart is mortified. And that's before he vows to protect her from a faery king! But Eloise soon comes to realise that Lord Strathan, King of Faery, is a very real danger. Abducted and trapped in his underground Rath, she is used as a lure for Strathan's wife, her aunt Antonia- the only person with the power to end his tyrannical rule.
With the help of  best friends Jo an Devin, Eloise must find a way to rescue her aunt and save both Faery and the mortal world from unimaginable chaos. But at what cost?
I know that book reviews should mainly be about the content but I can't not talk about the cover to Stolen Away as I love it. I think that Alyxandra Harvey always has quite eye catching covers but I think this is by far her best.
I have read all of this author's books and enjoyed each one, especially Haunting Violet which was her first venture into historical fiction. Stolen Away is dealing with the world of fairies and I have to admit that they are not my favourite subject matter in paranormal fiction. I can handle vampires and werewolves but I always seem to find fairies a step too far. However, I still enjoyed this book and I think that is largely due to the author. Alyxandra Harvey writes young adult fiction really well and Stolen Away is no different. I think that she is very good at exploring relationships and my favourite element of the book was the dynamic between Eloise, Jo and Devin. Their friendship is consistently tried and tested. As usual, Alyxandra Harvey also offers a little bit of romance, Lucas and Eldric are the love interests in Stolen Away and that was the other part that I enjoyed.
If you have read and enjoyed Alyxandra Harvey's books in the past then don't miss out on this one as the writing is as good as ever. For someone, who unlike me, enjoys the whole fictional fairy world then I imagine they would love this book as it has a little bit of everything. Alyxandra Harvey has shown once again that she is not afraid to tackle new subject areas, it will be exciting to see what she does next.

Dot Scribbles Rating: 3.5/5

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book to review, Stolen Away was published on 5th January 2012.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Book Review: The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen

Can you really see evil when you look into someone's eyes?
In a rundown house, a woman has been dismembered in an act of carnage that leaves veteran cops in shock.  Drawn on the wall, in blood, are ancient symbols, and a mirror-image word in Latin, that, transcribed says 'I have sinned'.
Then a second woman is found butchered on Beacon Hill, just outside the home of the leader of the Mephisto Club, a secret society dedicated to the study of evil. On the door yet more ancient symbols have been scrawled. This is evil that the Boston PD have never encountered before. And the only way Dr Maura Isles can defeat it is by turning to the people who understand the devil himself.
The Mephisto Club is the 6th book in the Rizzoli and Isles series and it is by far my favourite. I can't believe how much I have enjoyed this series of books, Tess Gerritsen just keeps on getting better and better! 
I think that this book is darker than the previous ones. I felt that parts of it were verging on horror rather than the crime/thriller genre. Tess Gerritsen does not hold back when describing murder scenes and in my opinion she is one of the best at creating and maintaining the tension throughout a book. 
Dr Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli team up once again but there is tension in the air as Rizzoli does not approve of Maura's developing relationship with Father Daniel Brophy. The discordance in their relationship affects the investigation in that Maura is drawn into the Mephisto Club more than she would normally have allowed herself to be. The club studies evil and the person that Isles and Rizzoli are chasing, could definitely be described as that. The victims are found in appalling states, surrounded by words and symbols that lead back to the devil himself. It is clear that the murderer has only just begun but how are they going to catch him when he may not even be human?
I have said in all of my reviews of this series how much I have enjoyed them. Each book has had me gripped from beginning to end; if you are looking for a new crime series to try then check out Tess Gerritsen, she's one of the best.

Dot Scribbles Rating 5/5

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best in 2012! It's going to be a pretty big year here at Dot Scribbles as we are expecting our first baby in just over three weeks! Normally I like to make some kind of reading resolution but this year I am just hoping to read and blog as much as I possibly can. A few people have already assumed that I will stop blogging once the baby arrives but that is definitely not my plan. I am sure that there will be days when the last thing I feel like doing is picking up a book or writing a blog post but reading is such a huge part of my life and as I have said before, this blog has opened up a whole new world to me! So please bear with me in 2012, it may be a little bit of a bumpy start but normal service will hopefully resume at some point!

Dot
xxx

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