Sunday, 18 November 2012

Review: The Yips

The Yips: A NovelThe Yips: A Novel by Nicola Barker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I requested this book from NetGalley as it had been on my wishlist since it was longlisted for the Man Booker this year. I was pretty excited when it was approved and couldn't wait to get started!

The book itself is written in an interesting style and we get an insight into a number of very different characters lives and they all become entangled in a huge spiders web with each other. I really liked the style of the book and it felt a little bit like being a nosy neighbour and seeing a little bit of each of their worlds. I really liked that my initial opinions of the characters changed throughout the book.

I really loved the first 60% of the book and flew through it. My favourite character was Valentine. I loved her quirky ways and her spiralling back story including her agoraphobia. My least favourite was Ransom, obviously written as an unlikeable character, but by the second half of the book I just didn't care about him.

I felt that for me I would have preferred the book being a bit shorter and found that the end was a bit of an anti-climax. Overall, I enjoyed it, but probably won't rush out to read any more by the author.

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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Review: To be honest

To Be HonestTo Be Honest by P.J. Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was sent this book to review by the author and really liked the blurb for the book.

The book follows the main character Lisi and the trials and tribulations she suffers as a teenager. She has an unhealthy obsession with her English teacher, Miss Mint, as she thinks that she is perfect and aspires to be exactly like her. After a freak weather event, Lisi find out exactly what it is like to be Miss Mint!

I found the very beginning of the book a little slow, partly because I find it a little difficult to identify with teenagers who live a different life to my teenage years. I liked Lisi, although she could be irritating sometimes. I think that the writing has captured her teenage naivety and blinkered approach to other people’s feelings particularly well. Once the twist in the book happened and Lisi and Miss Mint swapped lives I couldn’t put the book down!

The book dealt with some hard issues like eating disorders, friendship and money worries very well in a light hearted way, but without being insensitive. I also liked the way that the reader found out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that appearances can be deceptive.

The voice of the book is very modern with popular culture references, but it is done very well without being annoying or overdoing the references.

I would read more from this author and would give this book a well deserved 4 stars.

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Review: Princess Elizabeth's Spy

Princess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope MysteryPrincess Elizabeth's Spy: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I requested this book from NetGalley as I really liked the sound of the blurb and thought it sounded like a fun read.

It took me a little while to get into this book as it took me a while to accept the Americanisms and American spelling in the book. This is a small point, but as the book was about England in the 40s, it took me a little while to get used to it, especially as other than that it was very authentic feeling. I understand that the author and main character are American, but it would have worked slightly better for me if the other characters hadn’t used American phrases. However, this is the only thing that I could find wrong with the book!

Maggie Hope has been recruited as an agent by Mi5 and is assigned to protect the Princess Elizabeth at Windsor under the guise of tutoring her in maths. The book is littered with references to members of the Royal Family and their staff, and also has a really interesting sub plot featuring the abdicated King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. I loved the references to Churchill and his Private Office and his relationships with his staff, including former secretary, Maggie.

The book is a really fun whodunit sort of story which keeps you guessing over who the bad apple is. It is thrilling and once I had got into it, it really kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting to read more. This book is the second in a series, with a third due to be published next year. I haven’t read the first book, but will definitely look for it and will keep an eye out for more of the books in the future in order to keep up with Maggie’s adventures.

A well deserved 4 stars.

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Review: Sweet Tooth

Sweet ToothSweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was desperate to read this book when it was published earlier this year and when I finally got my hands on a copy I was not disappointed.

It is the story of a young girl recruited to the British Security Services and gets sent on a mission, Sweet Tooth. However, although I really enjoyed the secret agent aspects of this book, I think Serena’s relationships with others are captured beautifully and are really the triumph of the book.

I was a little worried that as this was a book told from a girls point of view, but is written by a man. I really think that McEwan did an amazing job of this though as I did not feel that it felt masculine in any way. Serena was a really likeable character, and I felt something of an affinity with her and her reclusive, bookish ways.

This book is a love story, a thriller and a brilliant book about books. It really captures Serena’s loves in a sensitive, but realistic way, has some great detail about her time in Mi5 and also had some great literary references that laid out the map of her life.

I absolutely loved this book and found it difficult to put down. I will definitely be seeking out more of McEwan’s work.

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Saturday, 3 November 2012

Review: The Boy Who Made it Rain

The Boy Who Made it RainThe Boy Who Made it Rain by Brian Conaghan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I requested this book from NetGalley as the blurb sounded interesting and I was interested in how it would be presented to the reader to make it stand out from other similar novels.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it easy to get into. The first half of the book is told from a number of different characters’ points of view and each character’s voice comes across via a slightly different writing style. Some of the sections were partially written to be read with a Scottish accent in your mind, in a style reminiscent of Irvine Welsh. These sections didn’t work so well for me as I found that they didn’t quite live up to Welsh’s well honed talent for capturing the Glaswegian accent on paper.
Some of the characters were more likeable than others. I particularly liked Rosie, but hated her friend Cora. I quite liked having a love/hate relationship with the characters as I found it made hearing their views more interesting for me as a reader.

The second half of the book is dedicated to hearing Clem’s side of the story. This was my favourite half of the book and the character that I felt most invested in. As the reader I could sympathise with Clem as he adjusted to the new culture of his new area and how he was the outsider for being English and being classed as “posh”. I felt that the writer dealt well with Clem’s new relationships and also with the bullying he was experiencing. I think this is a subject which isn’t often dealt with from a boy’s point of view.

One of the things that grated on me slightly about this book was that it was littered with a large number of quite random popular references from the last five years or so with no thought of how relevant they are in modern culture to teenagers today. It is only a small point, but for the sake of the longevity of the book and future readers I would have liked to be able to pin the references down to a specific period in this time of constant change.

All in all an enjoyable read and I have given it 3.5 stars.

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Saturday, 27 October 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was a little bit wary about reading this book as I was worried that it could be upsetting and a bit depressing as it is about a teenage girl with cancer. I need not have worried.

This book was my firsty foray into reading some of John Green's writing, and it definitely won't be my last! I was drawn into the story straight away and really loved the friendly writing style. In fact, I could barely put this down when I was reading it.

We follow the story of Hazel who is a 16 year old terminal cancer patient. She is convinced by her parents to join a support group to meet some fellow sufferers and give her chance to get out of the house. She meets a new friend in Isaac and subsequently meets his best friend Augustus. Hazel gets close with Augustus and they eventually start going out.

The book is very funny in parts and there are also parts that made me cry. It is wonderfully written and I especially liked the parts about Hazel's favourite book and going to meet the writer. A lot of the time you were able to forget that she was any different to other teenagers, until something popped up to remind you.

The book has a bittersweet ending, and I will warn you, don't read it in public, you may not want to be around people when you read it. The book is in no way depressing and leaves the reader wanting more. This book will stay with me for a long time and I would certainly recommend it to others to read.

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Review: Swimming Home

Swimming HomeSwimming Home by Deborah Levy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but felt that it lacked depth and in some parts I felt that the story didn't really make sense.

I would have liked the story to either have been even shorter to make it punchier or to be longer with more detail to ensure that the story was punchier. For me, I don't feel that it really works as it is. It seems that the book is trying to be something in particular and put a message across and unfortunately it doesn't quite cut it.

The story revolves around 9 main characters, although I felt that two of them were not entirely necessary to the story, particularly given it's length. All the way through the book, themes relating to mental health and depression are alluded to, although the illness that Kitty suffers from is clearly something more than depression. I feel like the book is sold to the reader on the fact that it is about mental health, but I don't think that it is particularly well dealt with in the book.

However, I did enjoy the story and it was a quick read and I liked the format and structure of the book. I'm not sure I would read anything else by the author, but am glad that I have read this book.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Book Review: Kismetology

KismetologyKismetology by Jaimie Admans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book as it was written by an up and coming indie author and I liked the premise of the story. I have read a number of indie books and have to say that Jaimie is up there with the best of them!

I have to say that this book is extremely well written and is an impressive full length novel. This is particularly unusual for a first time self-published author. I would even go as far as saying that Jaimie has the potential to be up there with the great chick lit writers as I have read plenty of books by conventionally published chick lit authors that pale in comparison to this one.

The story is about a girl named Mackenzie who moves in with her boyfriend a few doors down from her meddling mother and sets out to find her a man to keep her occupied. The book is very funny and thoughtful and isn’t as predictable as a lot of chick lit. There are enough events in the book to keep you interested and it isn’t over complicated with too many characters as a lot of books can be. I also enjoyed the pace of the book and how the story unfolded.

I have to say that I think Jaimie is an indie author to keep an eye on. She has real talent and as the quality of her first book is so high then I am particularly excited about reading more of her work.

If you like authors such as Talli Roland, Jane Costello and Marian Keyes then this book is for you!

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Man Booker Shortlist 2012

So, today is a big day in the literary world with the announcement of the Man Booker Prize shortlist for 2012.

If you haven't yet seen it, then you can find it here.

I was suprised not to see The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman make the shortlist. I am pretty excited about reading some of the ones that were shortlisted though!

The current favourites to win are probably the two I am least excited about, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and Umbrella by Will Self.

I have Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel on my TBR pile currently so will need to read this before the next installment. I don't think I can get excited about a sequel without reading the first book. I will have to get round to it soon!

The reviews I have read about Umbrella have all mentioned the books unusual formatting as it is around 400 pages with no chapters or even discernible paragraphs. This doesn't appeal to me as I like having places to stop reading where you can easily find your place again and I also like to punctuate my reading progress with chapters. I will give the book a go though!

I am looking forward to giving the other four shortlisted books soon, and there are one or two that didn't make it from the longlist that I am really looking forward to.

Any thoughts on the shortlist? Are there any you can recommend or are looking forward to reading? Do you think the shortlist should look different?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I know that a lot of people LOVE this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, as I did. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as similar coming of age/young adult type of books that I have read recently.

I read this book after seeing a lot of recommendations for it and managed to get hold of a Kindle copy to sate my curiosity. The book is written in a diary format using letters to an unknown person. I liked this style of writing as I have read a number of other books written in a similar way and if used well, it can be very effective.

The book follows a number of characters, but is written from the point of view of a 15 year old boy named Charlie. Charlie is a bit of an outsider who starts hanging around with some older kids and we follow a year of his life through his letters.

The book itself touches on a number of subjects such as drug use, mental ill health, sexuality and death and I think deals with them quite well. I do think that mental ill health could have been expanded a bit more as Charlie’s psychiatrist plays such a big part in his life, but there may be reasons for it being written the way it is.

I have given this book three stars as although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t unputdownable and I didn’t feel as though I connected with Charlie as well as I have with the main characters of similar books. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read it when I was younger as I experienced similar feelings of being an outsider when I was a teenager. Overall, a good read, but if you enjoy this, there are some better young adult books dealing with similar themes out there.

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A Year in the Life

As it was my birthday this week I have been thinking about what a year really is and how it is defined in different circumstances.
For example, we have the calendar year which starts on 1 January, the financial year on 1 April, a year of our life which starts on our birthday, anniversaries, special events etc, etc. I think you get the picture.

I think the year which probably means the least to me is the calendar year. Such a fuss is made each year about New Years Eve and having a good time. But to me, it’s just another day and a chance for businesses to make some money. It doesn’t really mean anything when the clock strikes midnight. It happens every day!
I know other people will feel differently about New Year, but it’s just a total anticlimax for me.
This week I was thinking about the past year in terms of the year I was 25, and whether it was a good or a bad year for me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that actually, it was a pretty good year in the grand scheme of things. I went on holiday, had a day out in London, felt confident enough to visit London on my own, made some fab new friends, went on a creative writing course and have read loads of great books. And even better, I have finally started to be comfortable in my own skin and not worry so much about the fact that I am ‘different’ and a bit of a geek. I’ve found that there are plenty of other people out there like me and that the people I care about like me as I am, not how I think people want me to be!

That is quite a revelation for me. To be able to be yourself shouldn’t be that difficult, but it is something I have always struggled with to an extent as I have been too worried what other people think of me and surrounded by those who are very ‘normal’ and basically, not like me.
Well, anyway, here’s to being who you want to be and not following the crowd! And let’s hope that 26 will be even better than 25!!


Sunday, 2 September 2012

My library - In pictures

It has been quite a while since I started blogging about how I was going to turn the smallest room in my house into a library/reading room. I have finally got around to taking some pictures of the room and my book shelves to show off!

Here it is for you all to look at!

My windowsill candles and beer bottles in the shape of buddhas!
These are my huge TBR piles and some reference books behind.

My hanging birdy thing
This is my very comfy reading chair and Paddington!
These are all of my J.K Rowling and Sue Townsend books with my Famous Five books up in the corner.

Some of my favourite books

My chick-lit shelf, including all of my Marian Keyes books.

Some more of my favourites and newer books

My collection of Beano and Dandy annuals and Steve's footy books.

Our autobiography shelf (and my piggy bank from when I was little!)

The murder mystery section!

Steve's collection of boy books!
 So that is my collection of books! I have another book case with cookery books and books from my childhood, but it is a little more messy than these.

I hope you enjoyed the insight into my little sanctuary!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Book Review: Atonement

AtonementAtonement by Ian McEwan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading Atonement around the time of the film release and just didn’t get it. Last year I decided to give it another go and managed to get hold of a copy on Read It Swap It. I have been looking at it ever since until I picked it up to read last week.

The book is split into a number of parts, each set in a different time or place and told from the point of view of different characters. The first part is set in 1935 at the home of the Tallis family in Surrey, and it is here that we get introduced to the main characters, Briony, Cecilia and Robbie.

Briony is a precocious 13 year old girl who gets into a rage when things don’t go her way and lives in world that is half fantasy. She has great visions of grandeur about herself and seems to get the things in her imagination confused with the real world. Cecilia is her big sister and a university graduate. She seems glamorous and very comfortable with herself, particularly in the scene by the fountain with Robbie. Robbie is the son of the family cleaner and lives in a cottage on their land. He has become something of a project to the girls’ father who has paid for his education and has dreams of going to medical college.

I found the first part of the book a little slow, but wonderfully written. Once I had the time to concentrate on it I couldn’t put it down.

My favourite parts of the book were the parts set in the wartime era. We followed Robbie as he was evacuated from France via Dunkirk in the D-Day landings. This section of the book was heartbreaking and really made you think of the horrors faced by the young men fighting in both of the World Wars. The next part of the book was set in wartime London and gives the reader a different view of the home front and the jobs that women undertook.

Overall, I really loved this book and once I had got into it, couldn’t put it down. It is beautifully written and really pulls you into the world of the characters. I think the story will stay with me for some time and I am extremely glad that I gave it a second chance. A fantastic book.

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Friday, 24 August 2012

Book review: The Radleys

The RadleysThe Radleys by Matt Haig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up The Radleys as I always like to read about family life and how other families are dysfunctional as mine!

I had a very pleasant surprise when I started reading this book! I really enjoyed how from the outside, the Radleys looked like your average 2.4 children type family, but were actually hiding a dark secret, even from their own children. They are a family of abstaining vampires! This isn’t a spoiler as it says it on the back of the book, but I hadn’t read the blurb so had quite a shock when I realised what their secret was! I think this says more about me than the book!

The book is very much focussed around the revelation to the two teenage Radleys of the reason why they are so different to their peers and are so lethargic and have an aversion to garlic. An event in the story means that their parents can no longer keep it a secret from them that they are vampires and we follow them as they come to terms with their true background and meet with their uncle who is an outcast from the family.

I really liked that this book was so grounded in reality and as a reader I didn’t have to learn about a whole new world as vampirism just seemed normal. The story was well paced and a different take on the traditional dysfunctional family story. I also liked that this didn’t feel like a clich├ęd vampire story, but was very fresh and modern. I would describe it as reality with a hint of vampire. I also liked that there wasn’t too much emphasis on the supernatural and just allowed the reader to enjoy a very humorous view on family life.

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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Book review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was quite excited about reading this book as I had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book and thought it was extremely well written and had the feel of a slow burning literary novel. I was excited to keep picking it up and loved the old fashioned romance that was blossoming between the two main characters.

However, it didn’t carry on. After a poorly executed and gratuitous sex scene just after the half way mark it went downhill. I really didn’t like it after this point as it felt forced and as if it was trying too hard. I also thought that some of the choices that were made by the author were a little senseless. Some authors can carry off a quickly moving plot with lots of location changes, but I really thought it didn’t fit here. It seemed that the author was putting as many threads to the story as possible for the sake of trying to get everything in, but I didn’t feel that they were as well developed or thought through as I would have liked.

This book was 2.5 stars for me as I really liked the first half and I think it could have been extremely well done if edited appropriately and kept the feel of the first half of the book. As a fan of more subtle fantasy, this may have been a tad too much for me, but I won’t be reading any more from this trilogy.

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Monday, 6 August 2012

What I've been reading

So, I've just realised how long it has been since I wrote a bookish post or a review! I have updated my 2012 list, and will give you a quick run down of my favourite books over the last couple of months.


Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1)I have discovered that I actually really like some fantasy books! I seem to like what I believe are called urban fantasy that have quite a grounding in reality. Or as I like to call them "here with a hint of fantasy".

I have really enjoyed books by Ben Aaronovitch, Paul Magrs and Jasper Fforde.

I have read all three of the books in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch and have absolutely loved them. In order, they are Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground.They follow Peter Grant, a young Police Officer in the Met as he discovers a new magical world right on his doorstep in London and ends up joining the wizarding division of the Met. He meets a whole host of creatures whilst investigating a series of imaginative crimes and mopping up the mess they leave.

It sounds a bit like what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Police force, but is much more witty and clever than that. All three books are truly works of genius full of brilliant characters and give a real sense of place as they describe the detail of central London. They are really fun, very tongue in cheek and definitely not children's books! I would highly recommend the series.

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next, #1)I have also read the first in the series of the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair.

I had been meaning to read this for ages and was recommended it by a friend when I couldn't decide what to read from my ever growing TBR pile!

The plot is based in an alternative world to where we live now where fantasy is reality and the dodo are being kept as pets. I really enjoyed the alternative reality element of the book as it mentioned a variety of historical events which ended up with very different endings including an independent, but very scary Wales!

Thursday Next works for what is in effect, the book police. Her job is to investigate literature based crimes and she ends up working on a case where the bad guy gets a chance to travel into classic works of literature and change the story, or threaten worse!

I thought the story was fast paced, with a lot going on, but was written in such a way that it was easy to keep up with the characters and events. I found it quite similar to the Rivers of London books, but also very different. I am looking forward to reading more from the series, and more from Jasper Fforde!

New writers

The Land of DecorationI discovered this book purely by chance as I saw it in a shop and was drawn to the cover. I know this is a very shallow way to choose books, but it tends to work for me (most of the time!).

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen is a book about a young girl who lives in what seems to be the South Wales Valleys in the 1980s with her widowed father.

Judith is a ten year old girl who is seen as being different by her school mates, due to her "strange" ways and the fact that her and her father are immersed in an unnamed non-denomination religion. Judith is confronted with strikes at the local factory, bullying, vandalism and other major events which she believes are being caused by the model town she has made from old rubbish in her bedroom. I really connected with Judith as she reminded me of myself as a child.

I loved the way that this book was written and was actually very surprised that it wasn't longlisted for the Man Booker this year. I am looking forward to seeing more from this new writer and would highly recommend this book.

I have read more than this, but these are my top picks! I have also enjoyed some chick lit from Talli Roland and Jane Costello, and some humour in the form of the "Queen"'s diaries, Gin O'Clock.

I have listed all of the books I have read this year on the 2012 page, and will do my best to review at least some of my books for the rest of the year! I also rate and review over on goodreads. If you are on the site, please feel free to look at my shelves!

Come fly with me

So it's been a long time since I have blogged as I have had a little break, but I'm back and I expect there to be an up in my blogging action as I am going to review some books and get back into the blogging swing!

July was a big month for me as I went on my first ever holiday abroad, and it was amazing!!

We went to Playa Taurito in Gran Canaria, which is a small resort between the towns of Puerto Mogan and Puerto Rico. This is the gorgeous view from our balcony:

We stayed in an all inclusive couples hotel which was great as we had as much food and drink as we wanted and there were no screaming kids to contend with. It was lovely and relaxing being able to sit by the pool with a pina colada and a book!

The water park you can see was next to our hotel and a little bit noisy, but nothing you couldn't get over. Every afternoon a "DJ" came on and played the same three songs and shouted over them which was quite funny. Particularly as when we got home and put the ipod on, the first song that came on was one of the three the waterpark dude played!

On the Friday we visited the pretty market town of Puerto Mogan. There was a full on tourist market with some "lookey lookey men" trying to flog us the same crap they sell in our local market, but it all said Gran Canaria on for the tourists!

We didn't think much of the market, but the town itself was very pretty with a harbour full of a mixture of yachts and fishing boats and canals running through the town.

It was a lovely change to walk around the town and strange to see the canals when the rivers we passed on the way down had dried up.

It was really hot because it was a built up area so we were relieved when we got back to the pool!

The hotel had entertainment was a bit hit and miss, but there were a few crackers. My favourite acts were a drag act (I have posted a pic of him being Tina Turner) and the flamenco dancers.

We had an amazing holiday, although, after being back for three weeks, it now feels like we have never been away! On to booking the next one then...

P.S. This is my 100th post! Woohoo!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sex sells

So, apparently sex sells. Not only does it sell cars, chocolate, perfume and music, but now it has crept unannounced into the world of literature to sell its seedy wares.

Books have suddenly got sexy, and erotica is now nothing to be ashamed of. I’m fully for people reading things that they enjoy and if a book gets people reading, then that’s great. But why does it have to be something so seedy?
An example of book porn
Personally, I think this upsurge in naughty books has been fuelled by the ebook phenomenon and the rise in self publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Kindle, I am a proud owner of a device myself. I am also not against Indie writers as I have read some brilliant Indie writing.
The Kindle has given the opportunity for people to read what they like, without those around them being able to see and judge. When I’m in London, I do like to see what people are reading on the train or the tube, but I also feel a pang of pride when I see someone reading on a Kindle as they are walking along, risking their life at the edge of the platform as in some ways I see Kindles as a mark of a dedicated reader and in some cases a true book lover.

I suppose some people must get a kick out of reading some “erotic” fiction in a public place, but it is not for me. The Kindle chart is now full of erotica with the types of names and descriptions I would imagine you would find on some sort of snuff movie. When does fiction become porn? Just because it doesn’t have pictures does that make it any less pornographic in reality?
This latest book craze has moved into the paperback arena too. The Fifty Shades series is topping sales charts and I have seen that many book shops have sold out of the trilogy. I am seeing people talking about it on social networks constantly and giving it rave reviews.
I did wonder if it was just me being strange and prudish by not wanting to read badly written porn, but I have discussed this with my good friend Elaine and she wholeheartedly agrees with me. And has even written a blog post about it herself. Go check it out. You’ll like it!
So when you are looking for a book to read, and fancy downloading something new, just say no to the covers featuring naked torsos and manicured talons. Try something a little different. There are plenty of good books out there, and there is plenty of great chick lit if you fancy something a bit lighter with a hint of sex.
Down with the book porn! 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Things I like and dislike this week

I haven't had the best of weeks this week and thought I would compile some lists for you of things I like and dislike (this will obviously be subject to change and more or less only relevant to this week).


  • Waiting lists
  • Paying £85 for a filling
  • Not being able to chew properly because my filling hasn't settled yet
  • Children (mainly the boy next door, but I'm sure there are other children I dislike)
  • Not being able to find what I want in the supermarket
  • Decorating (I don't want to do it myself)
  • Untidiness (this is a result of the decorating)
  • The fact that my two weeks off are nearly over
  • Poor service in restaurants
  • Buying a pack of Yum Yums and not finding out that they are apple flavour until I get home
  • Having about 46 million spots on my face when I normally don't get any
  • The smell of tea tree oil (for my spots)
  • It being so bloody cold


  • Books
  • The rain (this means that I will have less work to go back to, nobody wants a drought!)
  • Beetroot
  • Sue Townsend
  • Spending time with friends
  • Wine (it doesn't involve chewing)
  • A £30 voucher for a restaurant
  • Bruce (my cat)
  • My duvet
  • Steve (I suppose he should be on here!)
So that just about sums up the things I like and dislike this week. I think the dislikes outweigh the likes at the moment!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

We went to London to see the Queen!

We had a big day out this week and went sightseeing in London!

First of all we popped up to the Queen's house to see if she was in. I think she was as the flag was up, but we didn't get to see her. I was impressed with how clean her net curtains were though!

The Queen's Guards were putting on a bit of a parade outside. The American's were complaining that they weren't wearing red, but I bet it gets a bit nippy outside in the winter, so they had long coats on. There were loads of people outside. It was like a match day or something. I bet the Queen gets annoyed at having so many people hanging round outside all the time. It's bad enough for me when the kids are on the trampoline next door.

We went along to look at the Houses of Parliament too. I've seen them before, but I'm generally in a rush. It was nice to have a proper look. Although the smell of partially treated sewage from the Thames wasn't the most pleasant.
The floating restaurant in this picture was pretty impressive. I'm not sure I would like to go on it though as I like to eat my food without the smell of poo surrounding me generally.
When we were crossing Parliament Bridge we noticed that the sunshine made some interesting shadows on the pavement. We had a bit of a giggle at what are now known as the Westminister Willies!

 We visited Nelson's Column, looked at the Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square and went up to Picadilly Circus. We also saw a lot of other cool stuff and did a shitload of walking! We have come to the conclusion that we need to go back and spend some more time enjoying the best of British!
Oh and I know they say the Welsh are short, but this bloke takes the piss!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as I did with the first book, I really enjoyed this book. It kept me gripped all the way through, but I have given it 4 stars as I didn't think the ending was strong enough.

I like that there is a cliffhanger and I couldn't even begin to guess what will happen next, but I think it is a little rushed. I also think that the writer may have forgotten that although this is part of a trilogy, it is a story in it's own right and the ending should be a little more rounded, yet still want readers wanting more.

Despite this one tiny thing, I still loved the book and have no idea what will happen in the next one.

I would recommend it.

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Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to trying this book as I had heard so many good things about it. I was a little apprehensive as it is totally outside of the type of books I normally read and I usually avoid young adult books.

I had a very pleasant suprise with this book.

It is really well written and creates vivid imagery for the reader without being over descriptive. It is fast paced and gripping and accurately portrays the relationships between characters.

I thought that the story itself was really well thought out and I liked that it was a really well rounded story that could be a stand alone as well as part of a trilogy.

The main character Katniss is stuboorn, but very likeable and I think she would appeal to most people in one way or another. Her relationships with other characters are really well described and you can feel her happiness and pain throughout the book.

I definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Book Review: Look at Me

Look at MeLook at Me by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book took me a while to read as I found it really hard going. The first 20% of the book was really promising and I thought I was on to a winner. But unfortunately I was disappointed.

The story follows two characters, both called Charlotte and their lives get more intertwined as the story goes on. The older Charlotte has been in a road traffic accident and no longer recognises herself and also has to find whether her career as a model is over. I enjoyed reading about this Charlotte at first, but as I learnt more about her, I liked her less and less and found it really hard to connect with her. I think this is what spoilt the book for me and made me less desperate to know her story. The truth was I just couldn't care about her.

The younger Charlotte was the only reason I wanted to keep reading. A teenage girl who is struggling with herself and looking for acceptance, both from inside and outside of her family. Her story interested me most and I cared about her. I would have preferred this story if it had been pitched differently and focused more about the younger Charlotte, with the older Charlotte as a sub plot.

I'm sure there are people out there who would like this type of book, but I am not a fan of this kind of characterisation. So this one was just not for me.

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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Book Review: Pear Shaped

Pear ShapedPear Shaped by Stella Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had read some good things about this book and managed to get it fairly cheap on the Kindle.

I enjoy chick lit as long as it's not too fluffy and has a good story. This was exactly this. It has a few underlying storylines which work well with the main plot of the romance. The main character is well formed and likeable, even when she was doing things that you knew wouldn't turn out too well.

The story is well paced and kept me wanting to read more. I believe Stella Newman is good enough to be up there with Marian Keyes, Jane Costello and the other chick lit greats.

I would definitely read more of her work as it has everything I like in a good piece of chick lit, humour, romance and a bit of a serious side.

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Book Review: Loose Connections

Loose ConnectionsLoose Connections by Rachel Trezise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book really quickly and really enjoyed it.

Rachel Tresize is a local writer and I thought this short story was the perfect opportunity to try her work.

I'm glad I did as this story was fast paced, witty and very dark. It is about a woman who has heen having issues with her internet connection and is a bit on the edge for reasons which unfold. These reasons become apparent when she has to deal with one repairman too many who has the unfortunate pleasure of being at the receiving end of her frustration.

Funny yet very dark, and very well written. I will definitely be reading more from this writer!

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Friday, 24 February 2012

Cooking up a storm

I'm being a good little wifey this evening and am cooking up an extravaganza in time for when Steve comes home from his football tournament or whatever it is he has been doing.

I have made potato skins which I will start cooking once Steve is on his way home to go with our sirloin steaks.

I have also been baking! I have made a small batch of triple chocolate cookies, with three types of chocolate chips.

I am definitely marriage material. Nigella and Delia have nothing on me. I'll try to remember to take a picture of the finished article to add to the post.