Saph1re's Synopsis

Professional Reader80%Challenge Participant

 

 

 

Hi, I'm Jules.

 

The name Saph1re came about many years ago when I was setting up an eBay account, but every username I tried was taken. I happened to look down at my sapphire engagement ring and decided to spell it wrong, and guess what, it was available :-)

 

I love reading thrillers (especially dark psychological ones), horror, classics, historical fiction, science fiction, contemporary, women's fiction, and some romance, My least favourite genres are action and crime.

 

Although I've been rating books on Goodreads for years, I have only been actively reviewing books for authors and publishers since 2014, but loving every minute of it.

 

Favourite authors include Clive Barker, Joanne Harris, Daphne du Maurier, Philippa Gregory, Josephine Cox and Cecelia Ahern.

I'm 38, live in Cornwall, and I'm married with two dogs. I'm self-employed and sell novelty craft buttons online:

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Punch-N-Julie

When I'm not working or reading, I love gardening, coastal and country walks, cooking and watching TV and films.

 

Some of my favourite films are The Neverending Story, Dirty Dancing, Grease, Lost Boys, Titanic, The Karate Kid, Interview with the Vampire, Hellraiser, Coyote Ugly, Stigmata, Gladiator, Pearl Harbor, Edward Scissorhands, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Short Circuit, WALL.E, The Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho, Jaws, The Perfect Storm, Carrie, Moulin Rouge, Django Unchained, Horns, Interstellar, Maleficent and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

 

 

Book Review and Link to Free Sample - No Idea by Si Page

Free Sample

 

A free sample is currently available on Kindle Scout for anyone who is interested. If you like it, please can I ask you to consider voting for this author to get a publishing contract with Amazon. It's really easy, just click the blue 'Nominate me' button and log into your Amazon account. With only 5 days left, I'd love to help him achieve his dream. Cheers folks :-)

 

 

My Review

 

I loved this book!

 

No Idea is a mystery romance, which is both thought provoking and emotional in places. With a great mix of characters, humour, adventure and an interesting twister of a plot, I think this would make a great TV mystery drama series.

 

This book takes the reader on a journey, as Rob Wise (or should that be not-so-wise, seeing as he seems to have no idea about a lot of things in his life), experiences transition and self-improvement on a personal, professional and spiritual level. Covering as far back as Rob’s childhood, there is a hint of coming-of-age to this storyline, although the main focus is on Rob’s life as an adult.

 

The reader enters Rob’s life when it has pretty much hit rock bottom. The way he was living with his housemates made me think of a cross between Trainspotting and Spike (the bloke in pants) in Notting Hill. Rob has SAD, which is a form of depression and has lost all motivation. He has no idea what he is about to face and how much his life is about to change.

 

This story keeps you guessing throughout. Initially, I had no idea where the story was going to take me, but then things started to take shape, and I thought I knew what was going to happen, but then something would be thrown in to the mix which left me with no idea where the story was going all over again. I think the title, No Idea is great, as it not only reflects Rob’s life, but also the reader’s experience of the story and nothing being quite as it seems.

 

If you fancy a book that has you giggling, gasping and guessing, then this is probably the book for you.

 

I would like to thank the author for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Author Links

 

Author Website

 

Goodreads

 

Amazon UK

 

Eager to read more by this author while you wait for No Idea to be published?

Check out my 5 star review of Missing Gretyl on Goodreads

Book Review - Peppermint Park

Peppermint Park - Stephanie Harte

I really enjoyed Peppermint Park. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be much more than I imagined it would be.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel where the characters spend most of their time based at a hippie commune, so it was an interesting experience for me. I have a little bit of hippie in me, and love the idea of self-sufficiency and living off the land, so loved the idea of them growing all their own fruit and veg, and trading goods at the local shop, rather than using money. I also slept really well each night after reading this. Perhaps it was the thought of all the drugs. I felt chilled out, ha ha.

Ignoring one initial incident, this story started out rather funny and light-hearted. I found myself joining in, and laughing along with the characters over things such as farting in a sleeping bag, or the disgustingness of nettle tea, yuck! By half way, I was surprised how different my emotions about the book had become. The dream-like perfection of the hippie commune started to show cracks. Why are humans so good at self-destruction? So many of us seem incapable of being grateful for what we have. We always want more, and even when we get more, that still isn’t enough.

Sometimes I was frustrated by one character’s lack of strength to do what was best for her, but I also reminded myself, that I’m 38, and when I was in my late teens to early 20s, I wasn’t the person I am now. Perhaps I would have acted in the same way she did, when I was her age.

This story is full of a great mix of wonderful characters, and covers family, friendship, adventure, love, jealousy, motherhood, loss and hope.

I felt such heartache late on in the story, and even had tears in my eyes near the end. I would never have guessed the ending, but I did like the way the story concluded.

I would like to thank the author for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1753210359

Book Review - Matching the Evidence

Matching the Evidence: The Major Crimes Team - Vol 2 - Graham Smith

Firstly, there was nothing actually wrong with this novella, I just didn’t particularly enjoy it.

I’m not a fan of police procedural (or football), and I think one of the mistakes I made when agreeing to read this, was not realising it was volume two in a series until I opened it up on my Kindle. Although the story itself can be read as a standalone, I’m personally driven by characters and their personalities, and although there were a lot of characters in this novella, I didn’t feel I really connected with any of them. I am wondering if some of those characters are introduced in more detail in the first novella, and this is the reason for my lack of connection.

This novella seems to be going down very well with other readers, so I suspect many readers who thrive on police procedural will thoroughly enjoy this, so you can pretty much ignore my opinion. Those who know me well, know I’m a bit hit and miss with crime novels. I either absolutely love them, or just don’t get on with them. There’s no middle ground with me when it comes to crime, it seems, although I have learnt that the less police procedural the better.

Thank you to the publisher, Caffeine Nights Publishing for a copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1759628131

Book Review - No Second Chances

No Second Chances - Marissa Farrar

I have read a few books by this author, but No Second Chances is definitely my favourite so far.

I liked the main characters, especially Gabi, who felt very real. Cole won me over when he took Gabi on the perfect first date. Marissa Farrar is great at creating interesting characters and believable relationships.

No Second Chances is a romance with rough edges. Things certainly aren’t smooth sailing, and there are plenty of physical and emotional challenges thrown into the storyline too. This book focusses on the impact serious physical injury and guilt has on the main characters and their lives.

I was completely absorbed by this story. I didn’t want it to end, and actually really missed being a part of it for a couple of days afterwards.

I would like to thank the author for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1747376127

Book Review - The Dear God Letters

The Dear God Letters: One Woman's Year of Talking To God. Answers That Will Change Your Life Forever - Claire H Perkins

The Dear God Letters is an interesting read. It is a mix of religious, spiritual, self-help, and had a journal feel to it with it containing the author’s thoughts and feelings throughout one year of her life.

I liked the format of this book, especially where each month began with a description of that particular month in relation to nature and the weather. It was very visual and descriptive.

The thing that felt quite unusual about the format of this book, is that most self-help books I’ve read in the past tend to speak directly to the reader. However, as the title of this book suggests, this is written in the form of the author writing letters to God, and God providing replies. It is an interesting way to write, but did make me feel a little bit nosey, as if I was secretly reading someone else’s diary.

Although, I personally would describe this book as religious, other than for a mention of the author’s specific religion while growing up, God in this book could belong to a number of religions or none at all, so could really be read by anyone who is at least open to the idea of being spiritual. The main focus of this book is the way the author approaches life and its challenges, which in turn could benefit the reader if they chose to take on a similar attitude to the author.

God in this book is not one to be feared, but is kind and understanding. Being christened Catholic, brought up Protestant, and spending the first 8 years of my life with a variety of Muslim men living in my house, I think I may always remain a little too God fearing to write letters to him. Personally, I’ve always found Jesus to be much more approachable.

No matter what your religion, if you are at one with nature (or wish to be) and have an interest in this author’s approach to life, desire to help others, and determination to try and see the good in everything, then this may be the book for you. We are all given a life, but it is up to us what we do with it and what choices we make. Perhaps some of you will choose to read this book as a way of enriching the life you were given.

On that note, I will leave you with this line in the book, as it made me giggle:
“Some saw Heaven as a magical forest filled with little fat flying babies!”

I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and wish her happiness and success both in life and any future books she chooses to write.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1751452884

Book Review - The Reflections of Queen Snow White

The Reflections of Queen Snow White - David C. Meredith
I really enjoyed The Reflections of Queen Snow White. It is wonderfully descriptive and I found it exceptionally hard to put down.

It was somewhat darker than I was expecting, covering aspects of loneliness, sadness, grief and depression. I found it surprisingly emotional in places and even had tears in my eyes.

I don’t wish to go into detail about the plot, as the blurb tells you all you need to know. However, if you enjoy fairy tales and are intrigued about what may or may not have happened to Snow White in the future, then I highly recommend you read this book.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and wish him success with this and any future novels.
 
 
 
Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1628797207

NetGalley Review - Even Stranger

Even Stranger - Marilyn Messik

Having thoroughly enjoyed Relatively Strange, which was the first book in this series, I was really looking forward to reading Even Stranger, and I’m pleased to announce it did not disappoint.

I love the characters that Marilyn Messik has created for this series, and not just because they manage to make me feel less strange. It was great seeing a more mature and confident Stella a few years on from the first book too.

Although, overall, I wouldn’t describe this book as particularly scary, I think it needs to come with the following warning:

“Remove all potentially creepy dolls (and even the cute ones, if you wish them to remain cute in your mind) before reading this book.”

One part of this book spooked me so much, I think it knocked a few years off my life. I almost had a heart attack when I looked over at my beautiful doll, Betony, while I was reading, only to discover she had moved position and was staring straight at me! I was on the verge of jumping out of the upstairs window, until I remembered I moved her for the first time in ages, just a few days earlier to show her to my friend. Phew! She still gave me the creeps though, as she was giving me the look, while I stared at her suspiciously. I was even suspicious of her the following night, but we’re back on good terms again now, thank goodness.

There were parts of this story that made me giggle and one part that left me craving aniseed balls for about two days. Now I’ve reminded myself about them, I’m craving them again. They are one of my dad’s favourite sweets, so I grew up eating them, and adore the smell and taste of aniseed.

You will need to read Relatively Strange before reading Even Stranger, but if you enjoy the first book, then I highly recommend reading this book too.

I would like to thank the publisher, Troubador Publishing Ltd for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1628081073

NetGalley Review - The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

This is a great psychological mystery thriller that keeps you guessing from the moment a couple return home from an evening at their next door neighbour's house, to discover their baby has gone missing.

 

Tense beginning, and even though I was sure I knew who took the baby, this story taught me that people aren’t always what they seem, and threw me off track on more than one occasion. In fact, I think I suspected nearly every character at one point of another.

 

Sometimes I can be disappointed by endings of books that are so good throughout that story, but I loved this ending. If I’m honest, it left me feeling rather shocked and a little bit sick. I was going to go to sleep once I finished this book last night, but had to start another book to take my mind off the ending.

 

I would like to thank Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1572199584

NetGalley Review - The Stepmother

The Stepmother: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist - Claire Seeber

This is the first book I’ve read by Claire Seeber, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed this.

If you like psychological thrillers and fairy tales, then this may be the book for you. Although, mostly a psychological thriller, there is a hint of fairy tale throughout, as it is loosely based on the story of Snow White, which I love.

At first I was intrigued by this story, then I began to feel uneasy, and by half way I started to feel paranoid. This story definitely gave me an uneasy feeling throughout. Very hard to put down, as I needed to know what happened next, in the hope of reducing my own anxiety.

I’m also glad it’s not just me who can set fire to jacket potatoes in the microwave, even if it was a fictional character, ha ha.

I would like to thank the publisher, Bookouture for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1703010565

Book Review - A Very Distant Affair (A Very Affair Book 4)

A Very Distant Affair (A Very ... Affair) (Volume 4) - Faith Mortimer

This is the first novel I have read by Faith Mortimer, but it definitely won’t be the last.

Faith writes a variety of genres, such as mystery, psychological thrillers, women’s fiction and romance. This one falls into women’s fiction and romance.

A Very Distant Affair was an overall enjoyable story to read. The characters felt very real. I found this story somewhat emotional in places, bringing the occasional tear to my eyes. This book hard to put down, especially in the second half, where I found myself reading very late at night, eager to find out what was going to happen next.

Although this is book 4 in the series, this can be read as a standalone novel. I highly recommend this to those who enjoy women’s fiction and romance novels.

I would like to thank the author for a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1698075015

I'm alive!

Hi folks,

 

How is everyone doing here on Booklikes?

 

I've not posted on here since the middle of July, which feels like a lifetime ago.

 

I hope you're all well and that I haven't missed too much in my absence. Feel free to update me if I have missed anything shocking, exciting, or generally interesting, such as a book you read recently that I MUST read now!

 

Life has just been rather hectic for me over the last couple of months. My husband arrived home from being away at sea, giving us about 3 weeks to squeeze everything in before he went away again, so lots of time was spent catching up with friends and visiting family. Now he's away again for two and a half months, so I've been trying to get on top of my running my online novelty button business, but have given myself this afternoon off to try and catch up on some book reviews, as I'm getting behind.

 

I'm 17 books behind schedule on my Goodreads Reading Challenge *shock horror*. I do have a few books to review, which will help, but I'm still very behind. I'm in desperate need of more hours in the day for reading. I can't believe how little I've read over the last couple of months. I guess I better start reading some novellas or children's books in order to catch up on my reading challenge :-)

 

Look forward to hearing from some of you :-)

 

Best wishes,

 

Jules xxx

NetGalley Review - The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep - Joanna  Cannon

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep caught my attention with the title alone. After reading this wonderful book, I have found myself looking at people, and wondering whether they are goat or sheep. Do they have a fleecy warmth to their character that draws me in and makes me want to snuggle them, or a goat-like stubbornness to them, and seem like the kind of person who would refuse to be herded by a shepherd, and likely to eat my favourite plants. I know, I need to get out more!

As for the book itself, I loved the characters and the overall feel to the story. This book is very much focussed on a variety of different characters, personalities, assumptions about others, community, secrets, faith and hope.

In short, the book is about two girls who decide to go on a mission to find their neighbour who has gone missing. In order to do this they decide they first need to find God, as he is everywhere, and will therefore know where their missing neighbour has gone.

I found this story nostalgic in places. I don’t really drink fizzy pop these days, but I used to love our Sodastream while growing up. I loved that burping sound it made. My favourite drinks would have to be traditional lemonade and dandelion and burdock (called dandruff and bird muck by my husband).

Overall, a great combination of funny, sad, endearing and thought provoking.

I would like to thank the publisher, Scribner for allowing me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1443911227

NetGalley Review - My Girl

My Girl - Jack Jordan

My Girl is a fast paced thriller that just keeps on giving …and giving, even when you think there is nothing left to give!

I’m not going to say much about the plot, but it is one of those stories that makes you question how much you truly know those closest to you. You know the saying “crazy in love”, well this book gives that a whole new meaning.

This thriller is twisted and full on. Just when you think you’ve thought of everything, something else causes you to gasp and slap your hand across your mouth in surprise.

I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy fast paced thrillers and psychological thrillers.

I would like to thank the author for allowing me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1632347298

NetGalley Review - The Museum of You

The Museum of You - Carys Bray

The Museum of You is a touching tale of grief and an interesting way of dealing with it.

I’m finding it hard to explain why I only gave this book 3 stars, as it is well written, emotional, funny, and Clover is a great character, but for some reason I just didn’t fully connect with it. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it at the time I did.

I’m certain lots of people are going to fall in love this book, so definitely well worth considering if you like the sound of the blurb.

I would like to thank the publisher, Random House UK, Cornerstone for allowing me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1680755034

NetGalley Review - The Girl and the Sunbird

The Girl and the Sunbird: A beautiful, epic story of love, loss and hope - Rebecca Stonehill

The Girl and the Sunbird is a descriptive, atmospheric, emotional tale of love and heart breaking loss.

This is the story of a strong woman who endures a lot of heart ache, mostly due to the decisions her parents make for her at the beginning of this beautifully written tale.

Although a very different story, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my favourite Philippa Gregory book, A Queen’s Fool, during the early chapters of this book.

I loved that this book triggered lots of happy thoughts, such as my own love of birds, my trips to the Eden Project, where they have baobab trees, and memories of me playing croquet in the back garden with my family when I was a child.

My only criticism of this book is that I found the jump in time later on in the book to be a little too much for me personally, and it sort of briefly threw me out of the world I had become a part of. I had a mini panic that I might not be able to get back into the book, but luckily after a few chapters, I was sucked back into the tough and heart breaking life Iris experienced.

I would like to thank the publisher, Bookouture for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1641824143

Book Review - The Caller

The Caller (The Organised Crime Team series Book 1) - M A Comley, Tara Lyons

I was invited to read this by one of the authors, in exchange for an honest review, despite her knowing I have a bit of an aversion to police procedural fiction. Brave woman.

This is probably one of the most police procedural focussed books I have read. Having said that, I actually really enjoyed it. I think it helped that I got to see the Organised Crime Team coming together at the beginning of the book, so I felt like I was at the same stage of the journey as all the characters, with regards to getting to know each other.

The Caller was fast paced, sometimes tense, and certainly very hard to put down. It left me feeling on edge and unable to fall asleep one night, as I was home alone.

I’m waiting for the panic to set in when a parcel is delivered. Thank goodness for the dog gate directly behind my front door. It may save my life. Failing that, there is always my huge softie of a guard dog who can protect me by drowning evil delivery men with his slobbery licks. While I was out posting orders yesterday, I actually helped a lost looking courier find a house. It was only afterwards that I thought, oh no, I hope my neighbour is okay. Slightly creepy timing, considering the subject matter of this book.

Having enjoyed this so much, I would happily read more in this series, and highly recommend it to those who love police procedural crime novels.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1657302590