Showing posts from February, 2014

Review: Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this novel; I had the luxury of reading the book before seeing
the film, which is a rarity for me these days. I've read very mixed reviews over on Goodreads so I was dubious, but once I'd started I couldn't put it down! The unique setting and the era immediately appealed to me; it was a lot darker than I was expecting but that just made it all the more engrossing.

The story follows Jacob Jankowski, a victim of circumstance who finds himself on a circus train.As a trained vet, he is immediately put to work in the menagerie, populated by a number of exotic creatures ranging from the cute to the terrifying. From the moment that Jacob sees Marlena the star performer he is in love with her, which is unfortunate considering she is married to the enigmatic and seemingly bipolar August, the head animal trainer. You know from the prologue that the circus ends in disaster, and this gives the novel an ominous air as the tension builds and…

FREE Online Courses: How to Read a Mind / Shakespeare and his World.

Just in case anyone is interested, FutureLearn are running a couple of free online courses next month that are reading/literature related. I'm not being paid to promote them or anything, I'm taking the courses myself and would love some fellow bloggers to talk about them with!

For anyone who has never heard of FutureLearn, which I'm guessing is most of you, it is essentially a free Open University, open to everybody! There are no exams or formal assessments, just learning for free in your own time; and there's no obligation to complete the course if you don't like it or don't have the time. What's not to love?

The course that I'm most excited about, How to Read a Mind, concerns 'the science of reading.' This may sound boring but it actually incredibly interesting; it investigates why we get so emotionally attached to the characters we read about and become invested in their stories.

As FutureLearn describe it:
"This course offers an introductio…

The Liebster Blog Award

So a few days ago Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. The Award is designed as an opportunity for smaller blogs to get some love and recognition, and I was very happy to have been nominated!

Here are the rules:
List 11 facts about yourself.Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.Ask 11 new questions to 9 bloggers with less than 200 followers. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.Go to their blog and tell them that they have been nominated!
11 Facts about Me
1) I love books, films and theatre. A career involving any of these, or all three would be my dream job.
2) I remember lyrics and quotes much more easily than facts- I even used to make up  songs to help me remember stuff for exams!
3) I'm ridiculously addicted to pistachio nuts.
4) I fall in love far too easily with fictional men.
5) I have always loved reading, one of my earliest memories is staying up way past my bedtime reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five books.

Clean out your e-Reader Challenge

I've only been blogging for a few months, but have always been an avid reader. My kindle app is full of downloads from amazon's free bestsellers list to the point where I've had to ban myself from looking! (I used to check the list at least once a day to make sure I didn't miss any exciting new additions, I think I was genuinely addicted!)
Then I discovered NetGalley and the problem started all over again. I wasn't expecting to be accepted to review as many books as I have been, and my feedback to approval ratio is only 5.9%. 
The Clean out your e-Reader Challenge gives you the chance to read the books that have been sitting around for months waiting to be read.

Click on the picture above to sign up and take on the challenge with me :)
Goal: Spring Clean - 5 to 9 eBooks
I've looked through my lists, and here are some of the books that I'm hoping to get through: 

Deceptive (On the Run #3) - Sara Rosett (NetGalley)
"A picture may be worth a thousand words, but …

February Library Haul

From London With Love - Jemma Forte

"Everyone wants to be famous, don't they? Not Jessica Granger. Her father is the movie star who played the world's favourite James Bond and worse, her mother was voted sexiest-ever Bond Girl for her role as Heavenly Melons. Like it or not, fame is in her blood. But Jessica desperately wants to be someone in her own right. So she flees Hollywood for London, seeking independence in a city where nobody knows her name. But when she finds a job as a celebrity booker on a chat show she realises the more friends she makes, the harder it is to keep up the lies about who she is. And when Jessica falls for Paul, a writer on the show, her life as a double agent causes double trouble. As the truth about who she is becomes unavoidable, can Jessica convince Paul she's the real deal? Or will a sprinkle of the old 007 magic spice up her love life?"

Players - Karen Swan

"Harry Hunter is the new golden boy of the literary scene. With his books…

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I Love Being A Blogger/Reader

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Reading is something I have always adored. I'm pretty new to blogging, but I've quickly grown to love it. These are just a few of the reasons why I love being both a reader and a blogger.
1) The most important reason of all to me: it gives me an excuse to read all the time! I carry a book everywhere with me just in case, and to say that my Kindle app is overloaded is an understatement.
2) Being an English graduate reading critically comes easily to me, but since I've left university degree related work is hard to come by. Blogging helps me keep up my reading and writing skills, gives me something to show for my time spent at home, and makes me feel like I'm not wasting my degree.

3) Escapism. People often tell me I live with my head in the clouds, and I'm inclined to believe them. Reading to me is like magic; it can transport you to places beyond your wildest dreams, and when you return to the rea…

Valentine's Day Reads

In celebration of  the Feast of St. Valentine, I've trawled through my kindle and picked out a few titles to read and review that seemed appropriate for this time of year.

Love Finds a Way - Jenny Lane

"When Christy’s best friend breaks her ankle just before they are about to go on holiday together, she decides to brave the trip on her own. On the ferry to Holland she bumps into a handsome Dutchman called Piet van der Bijl. She is instantly attracted to him. But does he feel the same way about her? On her tour of Holland, she runs in Piet again, and sparks begin to fly, and Christy finds herself falling deeply for the Dutchman. But when he asks her to become a governess for his nephew, Theo, she fears that he only sees her as a teacher - and not as a woman. 'Love Finds A Way' is a moving romantic drama about finding love."

3/5 stars: Predictable romantic escapism, perfect for fans of the genre, but I didn't really warm to either of the main characters; Christy w…

Review: A Hollywood Ending by Robyn Sisman

"Tinseltown. So much on the surface, so little underneath."

This novel is a story of two parts, not only in terms of structure but also in terms of writing. The first half of the book, set in L.A, I found myself struggling to get through. The main character, Hollywood actress Paige Carson, is purposely presented as self-righteous and arrogant, but it's exaggerated to the point where I had no sympathy whatsoever for her situation and almost gave up on the book altogether. The plot focuses on Paige as her picture perfect Hollywood life starts to crumble and she flees to tread the boards on an English stage in the hope of a fresh start. Given her bad attitude, I couldn't help but feel that she deserved everything that happened to her, and I was interested to see how, if at all, she would redeem herself.
The one thing that this section of the novel did achieve was that it made me wonder whether any actors in the business today act that way behind closed doors, whether anyt…

Review: Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

This book has been on my to-read list for some time, so when I came across it in Poundland - I kid you not, they sell books there now too - I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

Lysander Rief, an actor, is visiting Vienna for psychological help with a problem of a personal nature. What else happens to him during his stay there no one could ever have predicted, and sets off a chain of events that are to change his life forever. Next thing he knows, "Lysander finds himself entangled in the dangerous world of wartime intelligence- a world of sex, scandal and spies that is slowly, steadily, permeating every corner of his life" (blurb).

The reluctant spy is a theme often covered in fiction, but the scene is set so well that you can't help but want Lysander to succeed. He may well be untrained, but Lysander's theatrical background comes in useful, and I liked his use of disguises. I also liked the effective use of diary sections to give an insight into Lysander's thoughts…

Review: Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

First of all, to state the obvious, the cover to this novel is stunning! It sold the book to me before I had even read the blurb:

"New York City, 1883 
A Prince Charming meets his match...

Self-made shipping magnate Christopher Black first spies Rebecca Bailey at a masquerade ball and is captivated by her refreshing naivete and sparkling beauty. She's a stark contrast to the hollow behavior of the ton and the guile of his former fiancee, but the closer he gets to her secrets, the further she pushes him away. 

A Cinderella with a secret...

Rebecca is drawn to the charismatic Christopher from the first, but she cannot risk him discovering that she is really a housemaid impersonating an heiress. Her father's life depends on it. A Happily Ever After that could never be...When Christopher's investigation of the murder of his best friend leads him straight to Rebecca, he fears his ingenue may be a femme fatale…

Review: Melting the Snow on Hester Street by Daisy Waugh

'Rich. Beautiful. Damned.'

The obvious reference in the tagline to F.Scott Fitzgerald, and the glamourous setting of old Hollywood is what drew me to this novel; I have a current obsession with the 1920's and it seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Eleanor and Max Beecham are married Hollywood actors, fast becoming veterans of the business. Wall Street is teetering on the edge, as are their careers and their marriage.

Upon starting the novel I was disappointed, it took me a long time to get into it, and even then I would set it aside in favour of other books. So there it sat only a quarter read for weeks until I decided to dedicate a day to finishing it. I have to say that I'm glad I gave it another chance! From Chapter 12 we gradually begin to learn more of Max and Eleanor's past, and the more I learnt, the more I began to empathise with them. Matz, a socialist, and his girlfriend Elena who works on the sewing machines at Triangle Shirtwaist Company are a world away fr…