Monday, December 15, 2014

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Book Review

station eleven
 Station Eleven is one of the biggest books of the year in my opinion. I’d heard so much about it but while I quite like dystopian novels (especially YA ones), ones with a post-apocalyptic feel to them don’t really appeal to me that much. However, when I saw the reviews from Sharon from Behind Green Eyes and Rincey from Rincey Reads, I decided I wanted to give it a go. I was waiting forever on the library wait list but luckily Station Eleven was put back up on NetGalley and I got approved quickly and I got stuck in.
This book opens with a production of King Lear in Toronto, where famous actor Arthur Leander collapses on stage from a heart attack. EMT Jeevan rushes to the stage to try help while 8 year old actress Kristen watches with horror to the event unfold. As Jeevan walks home later that night, he gets a call from his doctor friend warning him to leave the city as soon as possible, as the deadly Georgia Flu has hit the city and people are dropping like flies. Jeevan barricades himself in with his brother and wait out the worst of things.
The book then flashes forward to present time, 15 years into the future when 99% of the population has been wiped out, and we are reintroduced to Kristen and the Travelling Symphony, a group of people who travel around putting on plays and music shows. The book the cuts through time, telling stories years before the outbreak (like Arthur’s life, his wives and friends), during the time of the breakout and the immediate years that follow, as well as progressing the story at the present time. I know I only recently said I often wasn’t a huge fan of times switching back and forth but I liked the way this story was told. For the years before the outbreak, the stories are mainly about Arthur and his life, the years during the outbreak we mainly hear from Jeevan and Arthur’s oldest friend and the present years are mainly based with the the Travelling Symphony and the trouble they run into in St. Deborah by the Water and the prophet there. I just LOVED though how we see all the lives interact with each other over the years, the different ways their paths crossed. I thought it really added to the story and I think that’s why I liked the different timelines as it all comes together really well in the end.
I really liked this book, I am glad I gave it a go despite my hesitation with the whole post-apocalypse theme. The author is so vivid with her descriptions. There’s a line at the beginning when Jeevan is on stage trying to revive Arthur ‘The lights changed, the blues and whites of the snowstorm replaced by a fluorescent glare that seemed yellow by comparison. Jeevan worked silently in the margarine light’. I don’t know I loved that, but the margarine light just seemed like such a beautiful description. Mandel also really sets the tone for the post-pandemic world really well, with the descriptions of the TV stations going off air adding an eeriness to the world. And some of the descriptions were just creepy too, especially in the airport setting (I really want to say what it is that made equally love and be creeped out but I don’t want to spoil it. I might put it in my Goodreads review if you’re interested in finding out). I will say if the whole idea of ebola freaks you out and you have an overactive imagination, this might not be the best book for you! Though saying that, the timing of this book and the ebola outbreak really does add to the reality of the book and making you believe that a world like this isn’t really too far fetched. However this book isn’t really a post-apocalyptic novel in the sense it’s the main focus of the story.The book is set in this world and it is a big deal, it just isn’t the main thread of the story. Arthur and his life probably are, as a lot of it spins off from him, as well as the way the characters interact with each other throughout the different timelines. The book really touched me at times, I found myself crying once or twice. I can’t recommend it enough, do pick it up if you get the chance!
I received this book on NetGalley and I am not obliged to write a review if I do not wish. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Nails with Rimmel Glitter Bomb

I bought this polish at the beginning of October and grabbed it off the shelf straight away! It’s Rimmel Glitter Bomb in Midnight Mistletoe. I just loved the colour combo and glitter is just perfect for Christmas. I knew I wanted to put it over white so I chose the Rimmel Rita Ora in White Hot Love.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Tag!

I think I can safely say we’re well in the Christmas swing of things at the moment! Lovely Chloe from Nurse Fancy Pants tagged me for this and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in!

What is your favourite Christmas movie/s?
Home Alone! I do enjoy that, though I don’t think I’ve watched it in the past year or two, which is a shame! I’ve also enjoyed Elf, Muppets Christmas Carol and Die Hard, but honestly I’m not a huge film person. My favourite is probably one we had on VHS years ago, a short animated film called ‘On Christmas Eve’. There’s not talking in it but it’s beautiful and two years ago I managed to find it on DVD and I kept it a secret from my siblings until I made them sit down to watch it!




Do you open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
Morning all the time! My mother would never entertain the idea of opening presents before Christmas morning (or in the case of our birthdays, on the actual day), and to this day I still can’t open presents before the time! It makes it more exciting anyway to wait.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
All my Christmases where spent at my Nana’s house, a tiny cottage in the middle of the countryside, it was always pretty cramped. I remember one Christmas, it was so so stormy, the power went in the house from Christmas Eve until St. Stephen’s Day. There was lots of fires (and probably lots of fighting that I don’t remember!) and on Christmas Day my mother went down to her mother’s summer house to finish the cooking (as there was a gas oven there) and discovered the electricity was working there, so we all packed up our presents and went to spend the night down there! It seemed like a massive adventure at the time, even though we only went a few miles down the road! Then there was 2009 Christmas, first time we got snow in ages! It was great to play with my younger siblings out in the snow.
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Favourite festive food?
Hands down, Vanillakipferl! I only make this Christmas Eve, using Rachel Allen’s recipe, they’ve become a tradition in our house. Out of a Christmas dinner, the ham is my favourite and probably the favourite in all the house. Not a fan of traditional Christmas goodies like pudding, cake or mince pies. Raisins? No thanks!

Favourite Christmas gift?
Probably my V-Tech computer, I loved it so much! I did melt the front of it a tiny bit by getting too close to the fire! I’ve always enjoyed getting books for Christmas and a lot of the time I got very nerdy gifts, telescopes, microscopes, an atlas, other science kits. I got a Glo Worm one year too.
glo worm


Favourite Christmas scent?
Never really thought about this much before! Smell of a real Christmas tree is lovely and I like cinnamon and vanilla scents too.

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
Christmas Eve is BIG in my house, it’s become a thing over the years. Because there’s always so many of us at dinner, my mother starts cooking Christmas Eve. I also do some baking, making mince pies and the vanillakipferl that I mentioned above. My mother also makes her home made Baileys. There’s music playing, presents are being wrapped, lots of family, friends and neighbours are popping in and at midnight, we have a mini feast of ham, gravy and potato stuffing (which my boyfriend thinks is weird, but come on, you can not have enough ham at Christmas time!). It’s just a lovely atmosphere and something I look forward to every year.

What tops your tree?
Oh dear, I have no idea! I’m never involved with decorating the tree at home. Growing up, we never had one, as my Nana’s house was tiny and cramped with all of us as it was! I’d hazard a guess that it’s an angel opposed to a star, I can see my mother insisting on an angel. My favourite decorations though are the Lego Santa, snowman and Christmas tree we’ve had for years as well as the mini TY Beanie Baby angel hanging on the tree!
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As a kid what was the one extravagant gift you asked for but never got?
Honestly, I don’t think there was much I never got. As a rule, we weren’t allowed to ask for bikes, they were reserved as birthday requests only and we were only allowed to list three gifts in our letters to Santa. I do remember always wanting one of the bears that you could decorate with markers and it would wash out, but can’t remember if I ever asked for them!

What’s the best part of Christmas for you?
Spending time with family and friends, especially now that I’m living abroad. Christmas Eve is my favourite time and I love just hanging about by fireplace with all my family. Also, the local annual carol singing is something I look forward to doing with my family, never taken too seriously and is always a bit of fun.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

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In the past year or two, I’ve really gotten into the idea of reading Christmassy novels this time of the year. They’re usually a nice quick read, perfect for when you’re busy trying to get organized, and they really help get you in the festive spirit. So when I saw this on NetGalley, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, it seemed right up my alley, especially since I’ve been knitting a lot this year.

Sybil hasn’t had the best of years. Jilted at the alter at her Star Wars themed wedding, when her fiance ran off with her twin sister, Sybil has been wallowing, not socialising and just going through the motions of her uninspiring job. Her only comforts are her dog and her knitting. She longs to open up a knitting shop one days and often daydreams about it at work, leading her to make a potentially massive mistake one day. Mortified at the prospect of possibly losing her job, Sybil goes to visit her best friend in Tindledale, a quaint picturesque village, for a long weekend and falls in love with the place and the people living there. Especially Hettie and her House of Haberdashery. The haberdashery is in need for a makeover and Hettie is having troubles of her own. Hettie and Sybil form a friendship over knitting, helping each other through their problems and uniting the entire village in a knit-a-long.

I loved this story. It was a great read, really helped get me in the mood for Christmas. I loved the setting of Tindledale, where the locals all know each other and try to help and support each other. The book made me laugh out loud in places and it also made me really sad at times, especially when hearing about Hettie and her story. There is of course a happy ending, there couldn’t not be really, it IS Christmas! If you like any Jenny Colgan books or have read any of Alexandra Brown’s other Carrington books (which I haven’t read but will probably check out in the future), then you’ll definitely enjoy this! It’s a heart warming tale.

This book was received from NetGalley, where I am under no obligation to review after reading. All thoughts are my own and I would have bought this anyway!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November 2014 Wrap Up

November is usually a dull and dreary month, but I tried to pack it with fun things and I think it worked! I had another great month and hopefully December will be great too.
Socializing- It was nice to get back to knitting group after being back home. I also got to check out a new cupcake place with Sarah, went and socialized one night with friends of my boyfriend, met up with a cousin, her boyfriend and friends at the Manchester Christmas Market for my boyfriend’s birthday and also went to my Uncle’s house for food and fireworks! Also went to feed the ducks after work one day with my boyfriend.
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Knitting- Presents! So obviously the Christmas knitting I’ve done so far won’t go up here but I did knit a super long scarf for my boyfriend for his birthday.
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Watching- Mythbusters. I don’t know why, but I just had this urge to watch loads of Mythbusters while knitting. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the show.

Listening- To Jamiroquoi. I heard them on an extracurricular knitting outing, as well as frequently popping up on the playlists at work and then just listened to tons of his songs for days on end, Love Foolosophy being the main one I listened to. Also, I’m pleased to say, not listening to Christmas music! Being in retail, I thought it would be put on super early but there wasn’t a hint of a Christmas song until yesterday and even then it was mainly other songs. Very refreshing.



Drinking- Costa! Or so it seemed, even though I only got three drinks. I tried the Orange Hot Chocolate, the Brownie Hot Chocolate and the Sticky Toffee Latte. I love the festive cups too.
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Remembering- My friend Marguerite, who passed away ten years ago this Saturday gone. It’s hard to believe ten years has passed, it seems like yesterday I was giggling away to her funny impressions. She was such a bright, vibrant girl, full of fun and life. Some of the teachers were shocked to hear that Mags was such a great mimic of them, they always thought she was so quiet! Not a day goes by where I don’t miss her, I am so happy that I knew her and it reminds me that I am so so grateful for all the amazing friends I have.
Reading- A quiet month reading wise but you can catch yesterday’s post here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

November Reads 2014

First off, there’s been some radio silence recently. I just haven’t been feeling things and didn’t want to force anything. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things soon though, I have taken so many pictures of nail polish that I NEED to upload! Secondly, I managed a measly three books this November. I seriously thought it was going to be one, as I read the first one at the beginning of the month and then nothing until last week. Not only had I lost interest in blogging, but I seriously lost my reading mojo. I am feeling better about it now though and hope to pick up the pace for the final stretch of 2014!

November Reads

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger

waistcoats and weaponry

This is the third book in the Finishing School series, a finishing school with a difference. Set upon an airship in Victorian England, this finishing school teaches young ladies to be ladies but also intelligencers. Like all series, I won’t go into the plot but I wasn’t as enthralled as the previous books. I did enjoy the steampunk element but as most of this book wasn’t set in the school and didn’t have all the characters that I love involved, I felt it lacked a bit. Still, it’s a fun YA series, especially if you like steampunk and a tiny bit of fantasy (werewolves and vampires).

 

 

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

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I’m a big fan of Jenny Colgan. This book actually came out last year but wasn’t in the library so I couldn’t get it out. I thought I’d give it a try to break my slump, as I find Colgan’s books fun, quick and easy to read. And it did the charm. It follows Rosie, who took over her great aunt’s sweet shop. Things are going well with her boyfriend and things seem great. Until a whole bunch of things start cropping up and things get complicated! I was afraid this book might bring along the anxiety I felt after reading the Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe but it didn’t. There’s a third book in the series I will be picking up soon! A perfect cosy Christmas read.

 

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

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Last year I practically swallowed up the Rivers of London series and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this. It’s the next instalment of the PC Peter Grant urban fantasy series and this one sees Peter outside his comfort zone, as he’s leaving London! Well, only temporarily. There was a lot of pros and cons to this book. Cons wise, there was zero development to the MASSIVE cliff hanger at the end of the last book, so this book felt like it was a bit of filler. There was a lot of unanswered questions at the wrap up of the mystery, nothing major and nothing that will affect the future of the series but things that just bugged me a bit. Some of the major characters were missing. We barely saw or heard from Nightingale, which felt a bit like Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, where we hardly saw Dumbledore. On the plus side, it was interesting to see Peter outside of London, we got to learn a bit more about his mentor Inspector Nightingale, there was developments with Peter and river Goddess Beverly Brook and the book did make me laugh. And there was some good cultural references, two Game of Thrones ones stick out in my head. Overall, it was nice to see Peter and his world again, but I’m just dying to hear more from that massive cliff hanger at the end of Broken Homes.

 

November Stats

Number of books read- 3

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 3:0

Number of eBooks- 2 (Waistcoats and Weaponry and Foxglove Summer)

Number of books borrowed from library- 1 (Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop)

Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 0

And that’s it! A fairly light and easy month. I did read almost an entire other book but only finished it off today. And there are two other non fiction books I’m reading, neither I’m really feeling, which is why I think I hit a slump as I was avoiding them. Hopefully I’m back in the swing of things and December will end with a bang!

Monday, November 10, 2014

October Wrap Up

Another late post but sure what can you do? Here’s what I got up to in October.

Travelling- I went to London (you can see what I got up to in this post) and I also went back home to Ireland. Lovely and sunny when I left Liverpool, gloomy and drizzly when I landed. I’ll still take the Irish version any day though! It was nice to be back home, looking forward to Christmas there too, not long to go!

Playing- With cats! Three new cats at home, had fun getting to know them all. Also went to a quiz when home, I really need to do them here in Manchester, as I do love a good quiz!

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Buying- Books! And this lovely Tracey Emin Books Are My Bag tote. Also went shopping one day with Sarah and got myself a lovely mustard jumper (for years I resisted mustard but it’s powers were too strong this year!).

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Treating Myself- To my very first eyebrow threading! I went to the Love Beauty Brow Studio in Primark in Manchester and managed to suffer through the pain of having my eyebrow hairs yanked out. It was nice to treat myself though and I might got back to try something else soon.

Knitting- More things for my new cousin. I made her a hat for Halloween that looks like a pumpkin, however she doesn’t like wearing hats so the cat got to try it on. Also made some pastel birdies that will get made into a hanging mobile.

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Watching- Guardians of the Galaxy in the cinema. Yes, my boyfriend and I were late to the party but we managed to catch it still in the cinema and really enjoyed it. Also started watching The Apprentice for the first time. Well, I’ve seen it before on and off but this is the first time I’ve started properly following it week by week.

Eating- This delicious breakfast at North Star Delicatessen. It was delicious! I’ve also been enjoying half price dinners next door at Oddest when with my knitting group. I think it’s become my local! Also enjoyed food at Beeny Green when in London.

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Reading- Hurrah for the return of monthly reading recaps! There was none for September but since I read 8 books in October, you can check them out here.

That’s pretty much it! Besides working and just relaxing with friends and family back home. I very much enjoyed meeting my new baby cousin, she’s adorable and has quite the mop of hair! Onwards to November.

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