Book Review: A Million Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton

You can't believe it. You've actually won the lottery!
So what happens next? It's entirely up to you. Do you get out of debt? Quit your job? Travel the world? Go on a shopping spree of a lifetime? The possibilities are endless!
In A Million Little Mistakes you get to decide where the story goes from here. It's time to choose your own adventure. Remember life is full of surprises...
The idea of this book is that you get to the end of the chapter and then decide out of two very different options as to what happens next, you then simply turn to the page that continues the story on your chosen path. I can remember having adventure books like this when I was a child and I always loved them.
This is not a book to get engrossed in as things change very quickly and it is written as though you, the reader, are actually the main character. I think that I would have preferred it to be written in the third person as I am nothing like the person in the book, regardless of the decisions I made for them.
However, this book is great to dip in and out of as once you have explored one set of options then you can go back and find out what would have happened if you had chosen the other option. And I am sure we have all wondered what we would do if we won the lottery jackpot; would we go on that world cruise or buy that beautiful country estate?
A Million Little Mistakes is a great idea for a book, it's perfect for if you haven't got much time to become engrossed in a book as with this you can just go back and forth and explore the many different and entertaining endings.

Many thanks to Headline for sending me the book to review, A Million Little Mistakes is published tomorrow.


It's That Time of Year!

Morning! Just wanted to apologise for the delay in responding to comments and blogging in general last week! I had what I would describe as the flu (Dr S said I had a virus) I have spent so much time asleep and being generally miserable. And the worst thing was that I had constant headaches and dizziness so reading was definitely off the cards! Anyway I am feeling better than I was and I actually managed to catch up with my book yesterday so things are looking better.
I have the normal reviews coming up this week, I shall let you know what has been dropping through my letter box plus my plans to take part in Book Chick City's All Hallows Eve event. The idea is to celebrate all those things that go bump in the night during the month of October. I am going to kick start by reading Dracula's Guest which is a collection of Victorian Vampire stories which Bloomsbury very kindly sent me. If you want to join in and scare yourself silly then click on the All Hallows Eve button in my sidebar which will take you to Book Chick City where you shall be able to find out more.


Book Review: A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Based on a real murder at the turn of the century, this outstanding debut novel is a powerful and moving coming-of-age book. Mattie is torn between her familial responsibilities, her desire to be a writer, and the excitement of a first romance. Her dilemmas and choices are reflected in the life of a young woman that Mattie only gets to know through reading her letters.
When finally the tales of Mattie and the drowned girl merge, their stories beautifully combine in a brilliant and perfect conclusion.
A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly is in the children's section of the Bloomsbury catalogue but it is one of those great books that will appeal to readers of many ages as the author has created a story that many will identify with.
Mattie made a promise to her dying mother that she will look after the rest of the family so she is torn when she has the opportunity to go to college in New York to persue her dream of being a writer. I loved the way that the author uses Mattie to explore the ways in which a writer thinks. Mattie views the world and the people around her in a very particular way. When Grace Brown's body is discovered, Mattie has to know more; she understands that Grace must have a story that should be told.
Jennifer Donnelly does not shy away from the poverty and daily grind that Mattie and her family face. You begin to understand just how difficult Mattie's decision is. On the one hand she must feel that she has the opportunity to escape and realise her dreams but on the other hand she has to face the tremendous guilt were she to leave her family in those circumstances.
Some reviewers have said that this book is a little slow; I can understand what they are saying but in many ways it is important for the book to be like this. It is the slow-paced, mundane life that Mattie wants to leave behind. She has to decide whether this is just the life that she has been dealt; should she just get married and help run the farm or should she go out there and see what else life has to offer?
The death of Grace Brown is an event that really did take place. Jennifer Donnelly weaves it into her story and Mattie learns more and more about Grace from the letters that she left behind. Grace brown's fate brings Mattie's choice into sharp focus; I thought that the author tied these two characters together brilliantly.
A Gathering Light is a fantastic book that I would highly recommend. There are so many different aspects to the story that you cannot help but become engrossed in it, even when I reached the last page, I wanted to know more about Mattie's life.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book, Jennifer Donnelly has a new book called Revolution out in October so look out for that one!


Book Review: Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon

Ten years ago when Lily was just sixteen, she fell in love with someone she really shouldn't have fallen in love with. Now, living in Sydney and engaged to another man, she can't forget the one that got away. Then her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to make a decision that will break her heart- and the heart of at least one of the men who love her. 
Pictures of Lily is the first Paige Toon book that I have read and I think they should come with a warning on the front explaining that you will not be able to put it down.
Richard has just proposed to Lily, they have been together for several years but Richard has no idea that Lily's heart has belonged to another man since she was 15 years old. Lily has never been able to forget Ben who was much older than her when she fell in love with him during her first summer in Australia. Ben left for England though and even though Lily has tried to move on with her life, Ben has been in her thoughts every single day. So when Ben arrives back in Australia, she has a heartbreaking decision to make, what do you do when you love two men?
The cover of this book is gorgeous but I don't think think it gives any hint of the emotional roller coaster that takes place in this book. Paige Toon has written such a good story,I just wanted to give Lily a big hug when she has to decide between Ben and Richard. 
I'm not sure if I would describe this book as chick-lit as I don't think it is necessarily light-hearted enough to be described as that. What I do know is that I have found another great author in Paige Toon who's other books I shall be catching up with as soon as possible. 


Book Review: A Weekend With Mr Darcy by Victoria Connelly

Katherine Roberts is fed up. As a lecturer specialising in the works of Jane Austen, she has come to realise that her ideal man only exists within the pages of Pride and Prejudice.
Austen fanatic, Robyn Love, is blessed with a name full of romance, but her life is far from perfect. Stuck in a rut with a bonehead boyfriend, she longs for an escape.
They both head to the annual Jane Austen conference, hoping to cast their troubles away. But as the chaos ensues, it seems as Austen weekend wouldn't be complete without a little intrigue and romance along the way...
I completely fell in love with this book. I am not an Austen fanatic but I am certainly a fan and this lovely book has made me want to dust off all my old copies and dive into the world of Austen all over again.
A Weekend With Mr Darcy revolves around two women, Katherine Roberts and Robyn Love. They are two very different women but they soon become friends and share a love and passion for everything Austen.
Dame Pamela Harcourt owns Purley Hall which is where the conference takes place, she was my favourite character; she is an old-school actress, complete with the grand entrances, dripping with jewels and full of pearls of wisdom.
All of the characters in this book are either lovely or highly entertaining. Given that the book is only set over one long weekend, we get to know the majority of them very well.
Victoria Connelly makes many references to Jane Austen's books and characters throughout so I think you would get the most from this if you have read at least a couple of Austen's books.
I know that this is a book that I shall read again in the future. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are an Austen fan and have the occasional dream about Mr Darcy!

A Weekend With Mr Darcy is published today, many thanks to Avon for sending me a copy to review.


Book Review: Single in the City by Michele Gorman

It's official. Hannah has left her friends and family in the US behind and is following her dream. To live in London. Hannah's looking for:
1. Her dream guy. A prince or Hugh Grant would be  nice. Or does she have to settle for her half-naked Australian house mate or an 'English Gentleman' with terrible hygeine habits?
2. Her dream job. Something fantastic in fashion. So how's she ended up being the mini-me for an evil party-planner who doesn't even trust her to arrange the paper-clips?
3. Her dream friends. But everyone in London seems to have known each other for years and Hannah doesn't know the rules of engagement. Who's she going to have fun with?
Dream life? Should Hannah just dream on? She wanted a big change but maybe it would have been simpler and cheaper just to get a new haircut. Was she mad to move 3,000 miles away from everyone she knows? Will she ever find love and her perfect life in England?
Single in the City by Michele Gorman is a lot of fun! It is not an overly long book but there is so much packed into it, you don't want to put it down.
Hannah is a fantastic character, when she sets her heart on something, she completely goes for it, be that  a new job, new boyfriend or even new shoes. I loved seeing England and London in particular through Hannah's American eyes. We have so many funny little ways that we don't think twice about but it is very entertaining to see how strange some of them must be to others.
Michele Gorman's writing is extremely witty, Hannah ends up in so many comical situations, either whilst trying to please her evil boss or on yet another disastorous date. It's been a while since a book has made me laugh out loud on so many occassions.
Single in the City is  great book, I'm not sure if the author is planning on writing a sequel but Hannah is the kind of character who could have many more adventures.

You can follow Michele on Twitter @expatdiaries or contact her through www.michelegorman.co.uk 


New to Dot Scribbles Shelves

The books that have arrived on my shelves recently have been a little bit older, they are 3 books that for one reason or other I didn't get round to reading when they were new and sparkly! So here they are, let me know if you have read any of them and what you thought:

26a by Diana Evans (Vintage) Identical twins Georgia and Bessi live in the loft of 26 Waifer Avenue. It is a place of beanbags, nectarines and secrets, and visitors must always knock before entering. Down below there is not such harmony. Their Nigerian mother puts cayenne pepper on her Yorkshire pudding and has mysterious ways of dealing with homesickness; their father angrily roams the streets of Neasden, prey to the demons of his Derbyshire upbringing. Forced to create their own identities, the Hunter children build a separate universe. Older sister Bel discovers sex, high heels and organic hairdressing, the twins prepare for a flapjack empire, and baby sister Kenny learns to moonwalk for Michael Jackson. It is when reality comes knocking that the fantasies of childhood start to give way. How will Georgia and Bessi cope in a world of separateness and solitude, and which of them will be stronger?

Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble (Hodder) A is for affection- between childhood best friends; between their parents; between brothers and sisters. B is for brokenhearted- Natalie when the boyfriend who was meant to propose dumps her just before Christmas. Her mother when she realises what her life has come to. Lucy as she thinks of one relationship and maybe beginning another. C is for Chemistry- could Natalie and Tom have it (and what does it actually mean anyway)?

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (Headline) Edinburgh in the 1930s. The Lennox family is having trouble with its youngest daughter. Esme is outspoken, unconventional and repeatedly embarrasses them in polite society. Something will have to be done. Years later, a young woman named Iris Lockhart receives a letter informing her that she has a great-aunt in a psychiatric unit who is about to be released. Iris has never heard of Esme Lennox and the one person who should know more, her grandmother Kitty, seems unable to answer Iris's questions. What could Esme have done to warrant a lifetime in an institution? And how is it possible for a person to be so completely erased form a family's history?


Book Review: The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

A rural idyll: that's what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cevennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather and the reserve of her neighbours, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that's before the arrival of Catherine's sister, Bryony...
I was luck enough to be sent The Tapestry of Love by the author herself, to be honest this sometimes makes me really nervous in case I don't enjoy it. I needn't have worried, I loved Rosy Thornton's book and devoured it in one sitting.
As a reader, I felt completely involved in Catherine's brave move to the Cevennes mountains. Rosy Thornton's use of descriptive language is simply excellent; I could picture Catherine's new home and surroundings so vividly, I felt as though I were actually there.
Catherine is an extremely brave character, she has moved her whole life to a foreign country where she knows no-one and has a scant knowledge of the language. It's so interesting to observe as she settles in to the isolated hamlet and the tentative interactions she has with her neighbours. Patrick Castagnol is a very interesting element of the story, everything about him is so mysterious and yet so inviting, it is easy to understand why Catherine is so taken with him.
I do have to warn you though, this book will make you very hungry! There are so many beautiful descriptions of mouth watering food, from wild boar stew to fresh baguettes adorned with local goat's cheese. I loved this element of the book and how detailed it was.
I would highly recommend The Tapestry of Love, Rosy Thornton's writing draws you in and it is a lovely way to while spend an afternoon.


Book Review: What the Hell is He Thinking by Zoe Strimpel

Having spent a good part of her post-pubescent life picking apart dating dilemmas with her girlfriends over cocktails, Zoe Strimpel decided it was time to do something once and for all about the mystery that is the male mind.
So instead of moping about in the  Mars/Venus divide, Zoe did something completely crazy: she talked to actual guys, getting them to explain the tales of confusion that she had gathered from her firends.
And would you believe it? They had a lot of gems to offer. So while she had their attention, she also asked them the 'Eighty Questions You Most Want Men to Answer'
This is very different from the types of books that I normally read and review. It is a book to dip in and out of which is why it has been in my currently reading section for longer than normal.
I was worried at first that this was a book about dating nad having been happily married for a year, I have no intention of entering into that minefield ever again. However, this book is more focused on how men think, obviously this would be very useful if you are dating but it is also very interetsing if you are settles with the man of your dreams.
The book is split into eight parts, ranging from topics like committment phobia to hang-ups about ex-partners. Zoe Strimpel has put a lot of work into this book, she is not trying to prove any particular point but rather show the varied ways in which men often respond to the same question.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, I think it would make a great gift for friends as no matter how settled you are, I think working out the way men think is a mystery to many of us.


The Poisoned House Giveaway Winner

Thank you to all you lovely people who entered giveaway to win a copy of The Poisoned House by Michael Ford, names were put in a hat and Mr S did the honours! So the winner is.......

The Book Worm Chronicles

I shall email you and get your postal address and get this out to you at the weekend! Congratulations!!


Book Review: Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett

Scarlett would kill for a kiss from the boy she's crushing on... but her life has just taken a dramatic turn for the worse and now it's not just her romantic plans that are festering- even her friends are acting like she doesn't exist...
Left in limbo, bored to death and fearing her friendless state is terminal, an ominous idea pops into Scarlett's head. Over her dead body will she be ignored... but can Scarlett really execute such a grim plan? And will it reap the reward of eternal friendship or turn out to be a fatal mistake?
I loved this book, I loved the idea, the illustrations and most of all Scarlett herself! Basically by chapter three, Scarlett is actually dead and what follows is the tale of her adjusting to her new existence and devising ways in which to make her old and still alive friends notice her.
There are illustrations by the author throughout the book and they bring the whole thing to life. At times, the text takes on different shapes and fits around the pictures, I think this is a very appealing way of presenting the book and would very much be enjoyed by young adult readers.
Cathy Brett has all the spooky elements that you would want from a book where the main character is dead. Scarlett has to learn some haunting tricks which are not initially well received by her old friends. I really warmed to Scarlett and even though she does do some extremely dodgy things, I did feel sorry for her. As she says, being a dead teenager sucks, she misses her friends and you do begin to wonder how she will ever be happy.
Scarlett Dedd is a brilliant graphic novel, Cathy Brett's story and illustrations come together to make a book that will be enjoyed by readers of many different ages.

Many thanks to Headline for sending me a copy of this book to review, Scarlett Dedd is published today!

BOOK REVIEW: Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

On a windswept English beach in the early 19 th Century, two women make discoveries that change the world. And in so doing find friendshi...