Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Few Things...

It has been cold this week here in Scotland. Spring is reluctant to come. But, I was able to curl up with Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare and I can't wait to share my review. I'm even thinking of doing a discussion post about it. What do you think? A place where we can all discuss our feelings on the series and talk about all the spoilers we want. I'm dying to know what you all think!

Here are a few things I read, saw and enjoyed around the internet this week:

+ Say What? Beta readers helpful or hurtful to authors?

+ BBC News- Amazon to buy Goodreads 

+ Thinking of dumping Goodreads? A side by side comparison// Goodreads vs Library Thing

+ Amazon owns all these companies! I had no idea!

+ A fun post on "6 Reason I'll Buy a Book"

+ Video: A hilarious spoiler filled review of Clockwork Princess.

+ Do you remember the book that turned you into a lifelong reader? A reminiscent post.

+ Digital readers rejoice! iPad and Kindle's could be allowed during airplane takeoff!

+ Can you think of a weirder book title?

Have a great Easter weekend! However you celebrate.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Short Reviews // Why I write them.

I'm a fan of the short review. I love being able to see exactly what someone thought of a book in a matter of seconds. I mainly just want to know--was it good? 

I don't like spoilers. I hate them actually. I don't enjoy literary/analytic reviews because I want to make my own analysis of the the story. I don't want something I read to taint my view of the story when I read it. Just because someone doesn't like a certain attribute, situation, or writing style doesn't mean I won't. I don't want it to get in my way. I may go into the story thinking of it like the person who reviewed it and not give it a fair shot. 

I write short reviews because that is what I like to read. I don't get into the details, not because I don't want to talk about them, but because I don't want to ruin it for you. There are a few books that I can't help but talk more about and get into the nitty gritty of things. But I try my best to keep my reviews short and simple. 

Because I like to read short and simple reviews. 

That's all you'll get from me. I want you to have your own experience. I just want to help you choose good books. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Mini Review:: What She Wants by Sheila Roberts

Title: What She Wants
Author: Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

What do women want? Jonathan Templar and his poker buddies can't figure it out. Take Jonathan, for instance. He's been in love with Lissa Castle since they were kids but, geek that he is, she's never seen him as her Mr. Perfect. He has one last shot—their high school reunion. Kyle Long is equally discouraged. The pretty receptionist at his office keeps passing him over for other guys who may be taller but are definitely notsuperior. And Adam Edwards might be the most successful of Jonathan's friends, but he isn't having any success on the home front. His wife's kicked him out.

When Jonathan stumbles on a romance novel at the Icicle Falls library sale, he knows he's found the love expert he's been seeking—Vanessa Valentine, top-selling romance author. At first his buddies laugh at him for reading romance novels, but soon they, too, realize that these stories are the world's best textbooks on love. Poker night becomes book club night…and when all is read and done, they're going to be the kind of men women want!

What a fun book! Totally unrealistic....but fun. This book is told through the men's point of view--which I love. I love getting inside a guys head. Even if it is fiction. The main character is a bit of a geek. A little nerdy. It is about time we get a character like this! I'm all about the nerds. It is their time to shine. All of the male character's have a little something quirky about them. They are real. You can find your boyfriend/husband/friend in any one of them. That is what makes this story something you can connect with. 

It's romance. From a guy's perspective. How romance novels are just brain candy. You can learn something from them. I'm tempted to slip one to my husband to read! See if he'll learn a thing or two. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Bookish Stuff

I love bookish stuff. I love cozy homes with bookish posters, clothes, and furniture. 
I love the quirkiness of it. 

Here are a few bookish things I found around the internet this week. 

01.  These steps would be perfect going up into an attic or leading down to a secret place in the basement. There is something magical about them.

02. A bookish teapot! I'm in love!! Except I don't drink tea. I'm a hot chocolate kind of girl. But, how cute would this be to curl up with?!

03. I've always wanted to have a literary guild party. A book exchange and everyone talk about their favorite books. Wouldn't this book pages table runner make a perfect centerpiece?!

04. Book drawers?! Yes please. I'd like them to go in my reading room/library....someday.

05. {This} website has a bunch of ways to up-cycle and re-purpose books and pages. It's pretty awesome!

06. It's a chair. It's a bookcase. All in one! Don't tell me this wouldn't solve a lot of your lack of space problems. Also the website has 20 ways to make your home more bookish.

07. I love a good bookish quote. Don't you?

08. Oh. Em. Gee. It's a book inspired font!!! I want it. Now, where to use it?!


What kind of bookish stuff do you wish you had?

I'm linking up with Westover Manor | Kelly's Korner Blog 

Book Review:: Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl

Title: Lessons in French: A Novel
Author: Hilary Reyl
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle-ARC

It’s 1989, the Berlin Wall is coming down, and Kate has just graduated from Yale, eager to pursue her dreams as a fledgling painter. When she receives a job offer to work as the assistant to Lydia Schell, a famous American photographer in Paris, she immediately accepts. It’s a chance not only to be at the center of it all, but also to return to France for the first time since she was a lonely nine-year-old girl, sent to the outskirts of Paris to live with cousins while her father was dying. Kate may speak fluent French, but she arrives at the Schell household in the fashionable Sixth Arrondissement both dazzled and wildly impressionable. She finds herself surrounded by a seductive cast of characters, including the bright, pretentious Schells, with whom she boards, and their assortment of famous friends; Kate’s own flamboyant cousin; a fellow Yalie who seems to have it all figured out; and a bande of independently wealthy young men with royal lineage. As Kate rediscovers Paris and her roots there, while trying to fit into Lydia’s glamorous and complicated family, she begins to question the kindness of the people to whom she is so drawn as well as her own motives for wanting them to love her.

Christy's Review:
This is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. It's not a YA fiction, which was a change of pace for me, it's more of a memoir. The story is extremely accessible and will appeal to anyone in their late teens/early twenties, in those "coming of age/finding yourself" years. The struggle of the main character, Kate, as she comes into her own, reconciles her life and family and discovers who she wants to be is very realistic and makes for a well-paced, very well-told story. And it's all set in Paris, and who can go wrong with Paris? Pain Au Chocolate! Crepes! Butter! Le sigh. Culinary drooling over. (This book is not really about the food.) The setting of the plot firmly in the eighties is a huge win for this book. The details (fashion, jewelery, the rise of certain diseases, etc) are perfect and Kate's employers are the perfect type of eccentric/crazy people to offset the issues of the day (fall of the Berlin wall) and "intellectual" world Kate is trying to break into. 

I'm really happy with this book. I love that Kate didn't take the easy way out, not ever. I'm glad that life and her decisions didn't come easy. Because that whole phase of life when you figure yourself out is full of large, difficult, unsettling decisions. Not that Kate's experience was bad, it was probably the best thing she could have done, and the best things in life are often on the far side of difficult times.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Book Review:: Star Fish by Nicola May

Title: Star Fish
Author: Nicola May
Publisher: Nowell Publishing 
Pages: 312

Tired of looking for love Amy Anderson decides that an astrological dating agency is the only way she is going to meet the man of her dreams. Star Fish follows Amy’s hysterical search for her ‘sole mate’ as she dates her way through the twelve signs of the zodiac. So who will finally woo Amy? Will it be Ted the Arian photographer with a passion for ice skating, or maybe Laurence, the Libran IT whiz kid who likes to get behind the wheel of a fast car? Or, how about Capricorn Christopher, the owner of Starr & Son, the dating agency? You’ll be kept guessing until the very last page!

I loved the idea of this book. A woman using a dating agency to date her way through all the signs of the zodiac. Firstly, I thought it was a totally novel idea, not a major fan of star signs myself, but a really good way to narrow down the massive amounts of same old dating profiles out there. Secondly, I am totally on board with any kind of books that revolves around Internet dating or a dating agency, it's a minefield of bad dates out there, if there can be humour found amongst that minefield, I am all for hearing about it!

I have to admit that I want a major fan of the main character in this book. I disliked her impatience and her indecision. At some points in the book, she didn't give the men even half a chance to impress her, and yet in other points in the book, she was completely blind to the fact she was being taken for a ride. Well either that, or she could see she was being manipulated and just carried on regardless because, well, at least she had a date! I know it can be tempting to grasp on to any shred of positivity when you are in that dating minefield, but I really wanted to take Amy and ask her what on earth she was doing either dismissing this man too soon, or dating him for far too long. Perhaps though, this was the reason that I fond this book so involving, you can't not be engaged with a character and want to jump into a book and give her a stern talking to.

I really enjoy Nicola May's writing style. She doesn't go into unnecessary details about characters or settings and really gets into the storyline in a light and breezy way. The tales in this novel were highly amusing at points, if a little frustrating at times. It was quite a short novel, a very quick read, and some extra time spent on certain story lines wouldn't have damaged the book at all. This, however, is my only criticism, and a desire for more writing, more storyline, can't be bad can it?

I thin that anyone who is single or has ever been involved in this kind of dating, whether it be through an agency, online, or set ups from friends, will totally appreciate the stories within this novel. It was really quick read and so perfect for those choosing their holiday reading. The writing style is easy, and it is full of amusing quirky characters. Whether you like Amy or not, you cannot be helped from getting involved in her story and her quest for her true astrological match!

Book Review:: Better Together by Nicola May

Title: Better Together
Author: Nicola May
Publisher: Nowell Publishing
Pages: 227

Jess is nearly 40 when she meets Dan Harris at a party. She is single, sorted, happy – with a great job and a buzzy social and sex-life. All of this is threatened when she falls deeply in love with Dan, who is only 23. 

Jess, being older, recognises this as the real, precious thing – but in his immaturity, Dan does not. Unable to cope with the stigma of being with an older woman, he eventually leaves her. 

Ten years pass…

Jess, who is still gorgeous at 50, is married now, with a child of her own.They meet again. The years fall away. 
This time, Dan understands – but is it too late?

Gosh this book was total drama from beginning to end! I couldn't put it down, every time you thought it was safe to take a breath, something else happened! I thought the premise behind this book was really interesting, and being a fan of Nicola May's other novels, began this book one Saturday morning and had nearly finished it by later that afternoon! It was fast-paced, covering nearly 12 years in that time, several disastrous encounters between main characters Jess and Dan.

Jess is nearing forty and in the beginning of this novel, seems to have it all, great job, own house, complete financial independence and then a chance encounter with 24 year old Dan, sets all that spinning on its head. A bit like in Nicola May's other novel, Star Fish, I found myself frustrated with the character at some points in the story, showing just how involved I was in her happiness and her relationship with Dan. The drama that goes on in the woman's life is better than even something Eastenders could come up with, truly truly soap opera gold! For some readers, this may be too much drama, but for me it just meant that the book was not something I could out down. I HAD to read on and find out what was going to happen next.

Jess goes through some highs and some lows, but I thought that there was really lovely piece of writing in novel when Jess is having a particularly low moment, and something which most readers will be able to identify or empathise with... "Somehow reading had taken over from hiding under he duvet. She was now hiding behind the characters instead. As long as she was reading about someone else's life, time seemed to go by faster." My only criticism of the writing by this author in this case, is that some of the scenes felt a little rushed at times, some more detail or further explanation of how events came about, would have been entirely welcomed by me, and I don't think would have proved harmful to the pacing of the story or the novel as a whole.

I totally loved the ending of the book and i thought it represented the character of jess really well, a the decision that, had she been real, she would have made for herself, without any help from the author! If you are looking for a quick read which encompasses a compelling love story, some good old fashioned life lessons and high drama involving births, deaths and marriages, then you will love this book. If you have not read anything by this author before, this book is a good stand alone novel and shows off her writing excellently.

Book Review:: Working It Out by Nicola May

Title: Working It Out
Author: Nicola May
Publisher: Nowell Publishing
Pages: 336

Ruby Matthews has a plan. Twelve jobs in twelve months, until she finds the one of her dreams…

After an unexpected redundancy, Ruby begins to question her priorities. Inspired by a quote from Kahlil Gibran about loving your work, she launches her mission to find the ideal job.

Her year of gainful (and sometimes painful!) employment includes nannying for clients in the South of France; dealing with embarrassing ailments in a Harley Street Clinic; waiting tables in a buzzy Soho cafe; and meeting the celebs of years gone by in a home for retired actors. And even though love is no longer top of her list, relationships just seem to start happening along the way – which sees her handing out some P45s of her own!

But will any of the jobs, or men she meets, see her dreams come true? Or will Ruby just end up back where she started?

Another great concept for a novel by Nicola May. Although this was her debut novel, I ended up reading it last, just like to be like that! I think it is a really strong debut novel with a solid storyline, a host of fabulous characters and a wonderful concept for a tale.

At the beginning of the book we meet Ruby. She has just been made redundant, but does she let this get the better of her? No! She begins on a quest-12 jobs in 12 months and then she will decide which is the best fit for her. I can only imagine the fun this author had researching this novel as some of the jobs are completely not what you would expect for someone who used to work in marketing. The wonderful thing about Ruby is that she doesn't give up. She completely typifies the strong independent thirty something woman that I love to read about in novels. When she doesn't get work for a couple of weeks and finds money hard, she sells her designer handbags on eBay, something we all know can buy us a bit of spending money until the next pay cheque arrives.

The other thing I really liked about the character and her position within the storyline is that with every job she does, either she ends up learning a completely valid life lesson, or else she ends up teaching the people she works with something. I think Nicola May has been very clever here. She could've just gone through describing the scrapes and capers that Ruby got into in each job, but instead she decided to use each job as a teaching point in Ruby's life, or the lives of the characters around her.

The book is mainly set in Putney, but the main character is originally from Reading and is a staunch fan of their football team, so it helped in my reading of the book that it was set close to home. At the end of the story, however, Ruby travels to the Lake District, so be warned, you will be craving the beauty of the hills and,area of Cumbria by the time you finish this novel! All scenes and settings were wonderfully described. Indeed throughout the book, the balance of description and narrative were spot on.

I think there is really something for everybody in the treat of a debut novel. Some really likeable characters, both main and supporting. A strong storyline featuring me very day events as well as the pure escapism of 'I wonder what would happen if I quit my job and tried my hand at a completely different career'. And of course there is the all important love interest, something simmering beneath the surface, teasing the reader with not knowing what will happen until the very last minute! Loves, laughs and life lessons in this fabulously fun novel by Nicola May!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

It's OK to Take a Blogging Break

I've not blogged much in these past two months. A few reviews here and there. But no discussions, interviews, giveaways, meme's, etc. I'm just taking a break. I didn't expect it to be this long, but it is. I've been book blogging for about 5 years and sometimes I just need a break. And that is OK. 

Does it put me out of the loop? Sure. Do my stats suffer? You bet. Am I reading as much? Nope. And that is OK. 

There is a stigma that if we take a small break from blogging the whole book blogging community will not run without us. Or maybe we'll be left behind during that time. We could be. But I'm sure your follower's would rather you take a break and come back with loads of original content than something sub par. Posts that we can all tell are just going through the motions. 

It is OK to take a break. It doesn't mean you won't be back. It doesn't mean it will even last very long. If you need to go live your life and put blogging on the back burner for a bit, then do it. I have a 2 yr old son. He comes first. If I am too busy with him and can't post well...that's just going to have to be OK. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't feel bad about taking a breather. We shouldn't worry about our stats, comments, etc. You just do what you need to do. And that's OK. 

It is also OK is you never want to take a break. It is OK if you want to keep going as long and hard as you can. It is OK if you're worried about your stats and followers. That is how the big bloggers got so big. They are always in front of our faces. You go for it. Whatever you want to do is OK.


It was nice to have a little break and not worry about anything. I'll be posting when I can. I have an uber fun giveaway coming up on Thursday. So stick around! 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Book Review:: Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson

Title: Second Chances
Author: Melanie Jacobson
Publisher: Covenant
Pages: 272
Format: Kindle

After walking out of a thankless job at a prestigious marketing firm, feisty California entrepreneur Louisa Gibson is going into business for herself. Lou's pioneering venture, The Mormon Bachelor, is a reality dating web series sure to be fabulous advertising for her new marketing firm. And as a bonus, she can solve a problem close to home: while Huntington Beach is crawling with eligible, sun-bronzed Saints, they've forgotten the vital skill of dating. Lou hopes the reality show will finally inspire this group of hangout enthusiasts to pair off. But shortly before filming begins, the unthinkable happens -- Trentyn, a.k.a. The Bachelor, gets a girlfriend. And Lou needs a new leading man -- fast.

Enter Nick, Lou's devastatingly handsome ex-boyfriend. He's the stereotypical actor: shallow, self-serving...and perfect for the job. A whirlwind of dating ensues, with Nick at the center of it all. Things are going according to plan -- that is, until Lou is forced to step in as a substitute bachelorette, becoming an unwitting cast member on her own show. Despite Nick's attempts to reestablish their friendship and the growing spark between them, Lou is determined to keep her distance. The show must go on -- but what's a girl to do when the Mr. Wrong of the past just may be the Mr. Right of the future?

I'm a huge Melanie Jacobson fan. She is on my auto buy list. I don't even need to read the preface to know I want her books. She gets me and what I like to read. I trust her writing. 

Now, for the review... Great cover! I love a good beachy book cover. Don't you? It looks calm and inviting. If I was passing a book store and this was in the window I would stop to buy it. It fits with the story too. Which is always a plus! Did you read The List? Well, Second Chances is a companion novel of sorts. This book is about Louisa, Matt's sister. I loved The List and wanted to go back to Huntington Beach for more. 

I really enjoyed the whole Bachelor reality show preface to this story. It is such a fun tv show that I loved having a Mormon view of it. I just want to say that I got myself invested into this story. So much so that when a certain decision was made near the end I cried. I put the book down and cried. I couldn't read one more word. I just felt the hurt. I felt the pain and I remembered when a similar situation happened to me. I'm a happily married woman, but that just brought back memories and feelings from years ago. I sat there and let myself sob. I love when I connect with a character on a personal level. I wasn't reading fiction anymore. This was real life. These character's are real. 

This was such an enjoyable book. I read it in one sitting. I just breezed right through. It was easy to get into and it was comfortable. I had to re-read the ending a few times just because I didn't want to put the book down yet. I didn't want the magic to end. 

There were two details that I had a little trouble with. First, I had a hard time believing that Louisa and Molly could get the video episode ready in only a few short hours. With only one take. The second is all the advertising space that seemed to come so easily. This takes place in Huntington Beach. Not Utah Valley. Why would these advertisers be keen on buying space for a small video project? A Mormon video series at that! No matter how fast it went viral. But, then after reading author Melanie Jacobson's comment below it made to much sense. This story is based on a real life show. Her research reflected the real life process to the very first Mormon Bachelor. Also, Nick was already a big star in his own right. Why wouldn't a restaurant want him to advertise their product? I hadn't even thought of it that way. I'm dying to see to real Mormon Bachelor, just so you know!! So, don't forget to read Melanie's comment below for further insight. 

Loved this book you guys! I loved the lessons learned and I loved how the character's changed. The ending was such a surprise for me. My heart felt light after I'd been sobbing a few pages before. It was such a perfect ending. I couldn't have even hoped for better. I'll be re-reading Second Chances sooner rather than later. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

AudioBook Review:: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Title: The Undomestic Goddess
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Clipper Audio
Length: 12:75 hrs
Narrator: Phoebe James

Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. 

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake. 

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Audio Review::
I've read the book several times. But, when I saw that my library had the audio I just couldn't resist. I love this book so hard. It is just hilarious!! Samantha's inner dialogue is so relate-able! I know I've had those same conversations/thoughts with myself. Narrator Phoebe James is genius. She does so many different voices that made me feel like I was watching the film. 

Sophie Kinsella always writes career women. I love it. It sets a fun backdrop to the story. Samantha is a high powered lawyer that screwed up. Big time. Then she runs away. Don't we all wish we could do that?! When she starts being the housekeeper I couldn't stop laughing! There are just so many funny situations. 

This book is just awesome and I'm so glad I grabbed the audio even though I already knew the story. It added another dimension. Plus, I could always listen to an English accent. It's so sophisticated

Friday, 8 March 2013

AudioBook Review:: Crash by Lisa McMann

Title: Crash
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Audio
Narrator: Allyson Ryan
Length: 5:18:49
Review by: Mary

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode...and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

I'm always intrigued by the mind. What it can do and the whole psychology of it. I wasn't sure what to expect from Crash. But, it was interesting. Narrator Allyson Ryan did a good job of painting a picture with her different voices for the characters. You feel as if there are more than one narrator present, but there isn't. 

I was expecting more paranormal, but I liked that it wasn't too much. I liked that the ending was unresolved. I know that other reviews are saying the opposite but I liked it. It felt...real. This could actually happen. Could it happen to me? 

There is a little romance story thrown in there and you all know how much I love any kind of romance. I welcome it! I'm very excited to know what the next book holds because I still don't understand why Jules was seeing things in the first place. 

Crash is quick and easy on the ears. I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next installment!

Monday, 4 March 2013

AudioBook Review:: Three Good Things by Wendy Francis

Title: Three Good Things
Author: Wendy Francis
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 7:58:26
Narrator: Madeline Maby

ELLEN M c CLARETY, a recent divorcĂ©e, has opened a new bake shop in her small Midwestern town, hoping to turn her life around by dedicating herself to the traditional Danish pastry called kringle. She is no longer saddled by her ne’er-do-well husband, but the past still haunts her—sometimes by showing up on her doorstep. Her younger sister, Lanie, is a successful divorce attorney with a baby at home. But Lanie is beginning to feel that her perfect life is not as perfect as it seems. Both women long for the guidance of their mother, who died years ago but left them with lasting memories of her love and a wonderful piece of advice: “At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.” Ellen and Lanie are as close as two sisters can be, until one begins keeping a secret that could forever change both their lives. Wearing her big Midwestern heart proudly on her sleeve, Wendy Francis skillfully illuminates the emotional lives of two women with humor and compassion, weaving a story destined to be shared with a friend, a mother, or a sister.

I've been trying new genre's this year and I wanted to read something more adult. Just wet my appetite for something different. I chose Three Good Things on audiobook to listen while I did the household chores. Make them just a little bit more enjoyable, you know?

I enjoyed Three Good Things. It was a relaxed pace and the narrator did a good job of making me feel as if sisters Ellen and Laine were talking directly to me {or at least in my kitchen}. It felt very every day. The character's are likable and I wanted to know what happened to them. It was a calm read. Very relaxing.

The story is centered around two sisters; one owning a bakery and the other an attorney. Going through their every day lives of trials and triumph's. It is a fast read and enjoyable enough if you're just looking for a little bit of escapism. I did want to try a Kringle. It sounds like a heavenly pastry! I'm going to need to stop off at the bakery today.
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