Monday, 29 February 2016

My Month in Favourites – February 2016



My blog often is consumed by book and theatre reviews and events coverage yet there is a lot more I enjoy, so I decided to start a new feature in which I will talk about some other things I loved in the past month. This can be anything, from great videos and inspirational articles to my favourite foods and handy links. In February 2016 I rekindled my love for YA fiction, went on a clothes shopping spree and discovered quirky new brands, ogled stunning children's classics in hardback, played around in the kitchen trying new dishes, and became addicted to Booktube and the Amazon wish list browser button.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Bloomsbury New Writers' Evening at Foyles



(l-r: Holly, Alexa, Paul and Ann)

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while now, know I love the bookish events that take place at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, from evenings with authors Rachel Caine, Maggie Stiefvater and Cathy Rentzenbrink to the recent Quick Reads 10 Anniversary event. Last night three debut authors took the stage during the insightful Bloomsbury New Writers' Evening, Ann Morgan (Beside Myself), Paul M.M. Cooper (River of Ink) and Holly Müller (My Own Dear Brother), as they spoke with editor Alexa Von Hirschberg about their novels, meticulous research, and their writing process.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Hand to God at the Vaudeville Theatre



Harry Melling and Tyrone. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

When I saw that Broadway transfer Hand to God was described as Avenue Q meets The Book of Mormon I was instantly sold, as those are two of my absolute favourite musicals. So when the lovely folks from Stagedoor invited me to enjoy the play with them and have a chat about their app as well (which sounded really good) I of course couldn't say no.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum



The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum is always one of my cultural highlights of the year (alongside the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery) and the 51st edition of this stunning display of images depicting the diverse natural beauty across the world is another impressive collection, which shows breathtaking snapshots of natural wonders and a surprising grace even in those moments framed by dismay and destruction.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Cate Woods *GIVEAWAY*



Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Just Haven't Met You Yet by Cate Woods. Described as "witty, engaging, original, and with an unexpected twist" this sounds like a fabulous read, and I cannot wait to pick it up. And you can get your hands on the book too as for my stop on the tour the lovely folks at Quercus have given me a copy of the novel to give away to one lucky winner (UK only)!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Guest post: the original soundtrack to Break Up Club by Lorelei Mathias



It seems to be the season for blog tours, for me at least, and I am delighted that more publishers are starting to reach out to me with the question if I'd like to participate in them as they're always such as a joy. From giveaways to interviews and special guest content written by authors, there is a whole host of original ways in which I can have a tiny part in helping promote a fabulous new book and today it's with a guest post from Lorelei Mathias, author of Break Up Club (formerly known as Reader, I Dumped Him), in which she shares the original soundtrack for her novel. Enjoy!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and Gardens



Earlier this month I stumbled upon pictures from the Magical Lantern Festival, celebrating the Chinese New Year right on my doorstep here in London. I hadn't heard of the event before then but the array of beautifully lit-up displays in the dark reminded me of the Electrical Light Parade at Disneyland and I was instantly sold. My first free night after seeing the photos was last Friday, so I made it my mission to venture over to Chiswick House and Gardens after work to check it out for myself – and it truly was a magical experience.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Book review: The Ballroom by Anna Hope + *GIVEAWAY*



I fell in love with The Ballroom as soon as I heard Anna Hope read from her upcoming novel at the Transworld's January-June 2016 Showcase last year. Not only did the proof cover look absolutely stunning, but her reading was beautiful and hugely intriguing, especially when the audience collectively gasped at the discovery of the location of the titular ballroom; inside an asylum at the start of the 20th century.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy



Young adult literature has been undergoing a massive positive change in the last few years. Where previously there was a heavy focus on sugary sweet high school romances with slim white girls at the core, after temporary hypes involving supernatural characters and dystopian worlds punctured through the unimaginative stories, the next wave in YA fiction seems to be all about character diversity. Dumplin' has a main protagonist that is a size (or two) up from the teenage average, but Will isn't the only thing 'big' within this novel, it's also packed with a big story and a very big heart.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Quick Reads 10th anniversary event at Foyles



Matt Haig, Rowan Coleman, Elizabeth Buchan & Fanny Blake

As an avid book-lover it can be so easy to forget that reading isn't an enjoyable or easy pastime for everyone. For a variety of reasons it can in fact be a struggle for people; those that have never learned how to read, or suffer from dyslexia, or for health reasons are unable to focus on any one book for a lengthy period, to name but a few. And this is where Quick Reads can provide a great alternative. I attended the 10th year anniversary event of this initiative at Foyles last week, hosted by Cathy Rentzenbrink, with special guests Veronica Henry, Fanny Blake, Elizabeth Buchan, Rowan Coleman and Matt Haig, which has made me appreciate the wonderful Quick Reads even more so than I did before.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pan Macmillan's Women's Fiction Party 2016



Out of the many book events I had the joy to attend in 2015, Pan Macmillan's Women's Fiction Evening was one of my favourites and so I was thrilled to attend it again this year, this time with my Novelicious hat on. Held at the Oxo Tower on the South Bank, the event was filled to the brim with authors, agents and other fabulous publishing people. One of the highlights of the event is always wandering around the room to spot the new titles the Pan Mac team will be publishing (and of course picking up the most-anticipated ones to take home, though I was really restraining myself this year as my TBR pile is topping over so I kept it to a respectful four new books) while enjoying a glass of Prosecco and some tasty canapés.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Guest post: author Julie Murphy shares 5 things you may not know about Texas



I love the young adult releases from Harper360 (especially A Thousand Pieces of You and its sequel Ten Thousand Skies Above You, now my new favourite YA series!) and so when I received their latest email introducing me to Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (which sounded fabulous) I jumped at the opportunity to review the novel and take part in the blog tour. I loved the book, which feels a little like Grease for the 21st century, and I'll publish my review next week. But first, I'm delighted to share with you a guest post from the author with five things you may not yet know about the state the story takes place in: Texas.

The World Goes Round – The Songs of Kander & Ebb at St. James Theatre



Photo credit: Alex Murphy

While I have been to the St. James Theatre plenty of times before, most recently for revues You Won't Succeed on Broadway if You Don't Have Any Jews and Songs For a New World, I'd never actually visited the wonderfully intimate Studio – until this week that is. The World Goes Round perfectly fits inside this cosy space, bringing together some of the finest songs from Broadway songwriting duo Kander & Ebb with the immense talent of West End stars Oliver Tompsett and Debbie Kurup.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Book review: The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements



I love the heartwarming stories that come from the imagination of Abby Clements. From Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream, right down to Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop and its tasty Mediterranean sequel, The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop. Each time when a new novel from this author is announced I feel a little flutter of excitement and receiving the title in the post is an utter joy. While I would love to return to the world of Amelia Grey one day, I admire how Abby Clements manages to always create a brand new cast of interesting characters and stories that still feel familiar and I quickly fall in love with, and with her latest endeavor, The Winter Wedding, she has done it again.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Book review: The Last of the Bowmans by J. Paul Henderson



Last Bus to Coffeeville was the first novel with a 'golden oldie' protagonist I discovered and devoured and it is still one of my favourites. Filled with cracking characters, enlightening historical insights and a heady dose of dark humour, it was a joyous ride from start to finish packed with a lot of heart. I was therefore delighted when publishers No Exit Press asked if I wanted to be part of the blog tour for author J. Paul Henderson's new novel, The Last of the Bowmans, and receive a copy of his latest book for review. The answer was of course, hell yes!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Blogger meetup at Icebar London



London is filled with an eclectic mix of fabulous discoveries, from new musicals at West End Live and a restaurant in Soho which serves nearly all dishes with a variation of polenta, to a funky pop art exhibition at the Tate Modern. If there's something you're particularly fond of, then there's probably a place in Blighty's capital that can cater to your wishes. If, for instance, being surrounded by ice from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, is your thing then you don't have to catch a plane to the Nordics to get that experience, a tube ride to Oxford Circus and a visit to Icebar London off Regent Street will do just fine.