Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Imperial Leather Sweets Shower Creams #BEDM

I love love LOVE sweet things! I have a big sweet tooth, I’ve been told my taste in alcoholic drinks is almost childish and I love sweet perfumes and shower gels. So when I saw this new range of shower creams by Imperial Leather based on sweets I HAD to get them!

imperial leather shower creams shower gels foamy bananas fruit salad fruit chews marshmallows sherbet lemon

I snapped by the Sherbet Lemon, Fruit Salad and Marshmallow ones on offer in Boots (the spearmint one wasn’t there and I probably wouldn’t have gotten it anyway as I’m not a big mint fan). Imperial Leather then brought out the Foamy Bananas one later, a Tesco only exclusive, so I had to wait weeks to get it but it was worth it! Here’s what I think of them.

imperial leather marshmallow shower cream

 

Comforting Marshmallow- Probably my favourite! It’s sweet but I find it so soft and lovely. It isn’t overly cloying in my opinion but I guess it might depend on what you find too sweet for your own liking. I paired it with Lush Rose Jam one day and it was beautiful! There’s also a bath cream for this but I haven’t seen it in the shops yet.

 

imperial leather fruit salad shower cream

 

Mouthwatering Fruit Salad- This is now called Fruit Chews, I’m guessing the makers of Fruit Salad bars had something to say about that (though while I’m talking about them, bring back Apple Jacks!! They were sooo good!). Anyway, this is fruity and delicious. The sweets are raspberry and pineapple and this is what the shower gel smells like to me

 

imperial leather sherbet lemon shower cream

 

Uplifting Sherbet Lemon-This is my least favourite. I find lemon shower gels can be hit or miss. Sometimes they are lovely, other times they remind me of Cif. This was more of the latter to me but I haven’t given up on it. I’ll try it again and if I still don’t like it, I’m going to try pair it with something else to see if I can get a good mix.

 

imperial leather foamy banana shower cream

 

 

Foamy Banana- Oh I love this! If you don’t like the smell of fake bananas, then you’ll hate this. But if you lovely banana milkshakes and these sweets, then you’ll love this.

 

 

 

All of these foam really well and I’ve been very impressed with the range so far. And if you’re not a fan of sweet smells, Imperial Leather have so many other scents and ranges that there is bound to be something to suit you. And no, I’m not being paid to say that (nor were these products free, I bought them myself), I just really like them! If you’ve tried these too I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Reads Part 2 #BEDM

The other day I posted part one of what I had read in April, which was all the graphic novels and short stories. You can read that here. Today is all the other books I read!

April Reads

Desolation by Derek Landy

Desolation Derek Landy

Desolation is the follow up to Demon Road, which I read last month. After tricking the Shining Demon, Amber and Milo must go to Desolation Hill in Alaska, where you can hide from the Shining Demon for unknown reasons. I was surprised at how quickly Amber and Milo ended up in Desolation Hill, I thought there would be more travelling and thought it might get boring if they got there early in the book. But there is plenty of action from why the town has a forcefield that keeps out the Hounds of Hell, to the mystery of The Narrow Man, to Amber's parents showing up again. The book is similar to the first one in that there's it constantly feels like problem-solved-new problems etc. but at least it doesn't fall into the boring, which some 2nd books in series tend to do. For a YA book it is pretty full on. There's lots of swearing, gore and sexual references (nothing too graphic though). I will say I'm not sure how I felt about the whole Amber and Kelly situation, purely based on the fact that Amber is 16 and Kelly is an adult (19/20). There's lots of new characters in this and it felt a bit crowded at times to be honest. Overall it's another fast fun read, a bit more disorganised compared to the first one but it'll be interesting to see how the third book progresses. (NetGalley)

 

Morgue: A Life in Death by Vincent DiMaio and Ron Franscell

morgue vincent dimaio

Morgue is an insight in the life of criminal pathologists. When I first saw this book, I thought it might be about the day to day life as a medical examiner, while talking about some of the big cases mentioned in the blurb. Instead we get the life story of DiMaio, as told through the biggest cases he worked on, while weaving in his personal life, starting as a boy in Brooklyn who follows his father's footsteps into criminal pathology.

The book is separated into chapters which focus on one big story (like the Trayvon Martin case and the exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald) or a theme which speaks about a few different cases (like how looks can be deceiving, that a suicide can look like a murder). We get the background story of the case and then DiMaio will tell us his involvement with the case in the capacity of an ME and also describes other aspects such as what happens in the courtroom. The book isn't heavy with technical language, so if that's something that can put you off with books surrounding medical or scientific books don't let that put you off! It is quite graphic though, there is a lot of descriptions of these cases and as some of them are about children dying and being murdered, this might not be for you if this kind of thing upsets you easily. The book flows nicely and I found it to be a quick read, I was engrossed every time I picked it up! The sheer amount of big cases just goes to show that DiMaio was clearly someone who was an expert in his field and someone who's opinion is still respected even though he's retired. If you like true crime or if you're a big fan of crime shows on TV and want to know more about what really happens, pick this up and give it a go! (NetGalley)

 

Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox

rosalind franklin brenda maddox

Rosalind Franklin should be a house hold name. Her X-ray photographs of DNA helped Watson and Crick with their insight into DNA (which won them a Nobel Prize). These photographs were shown to them without Rosalind’s knowledge. To add to the insult, Watson’s book The Double Helix painted Rosalind in a horrible light, an unpleasant, unattractive and unhelpful woman. This book shows a bigger picture of Rosalind, of her childhood to her interest in science, becoming an established scientist in the area of coal before moving onto DNA and viruses, before dying at the age of 37 from cancer. I found this book pretty balanced, it showed that Rosalind could be frank, didn’t suffer fools and probably did come across badly to some people. But to those who knew her, she was generous and a great friend. I loved seeing her interests in travelling and cooking. The science aspect of this book is manageable, it wasn’t too heavy but if it is something you struggle with, just take it slow and you’ll get through it. One gripe I had was any time the author quoted something in a different language, it wasn’t translated. As I had studied French in school, most of the French phrases I understood but it was still a bit frustrating. Overall though I enjoyed it, perfect balance for a biography, detailed but not too long.

 

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

the art of being normal

David is an outsider, with few friends and is picked on by school bullies. He hides a big secret, one he wishes to tell his family about. While David was born a boy, for years he has known he’s a girl. Leo is new at school and has one wish: to keep his head down, stay invisible and keep out of trouble. When David is being humiliated in front of the entire school, Leo stands up for David and punches the bully. From then on David persists in being friends with a reluctant Leo and we discover the reason why Leo has changed schools. I loved this book, I devoured it in one sitting. It of course deals with transgender issues but there’s so much there as well. It hits the nail on the head of what it’s like to feel different and dealing with families, friendship, being bullied and struggling to fit in. The story is told from a dual point of view, with David and Leo taking turns at being the narrator. I thought it was a sweet story, enduring book, a must read for lovers of YA.

 

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe

Animal Sara Pascoe

This book looks at many different aspects for what it's like to be a woman. Sara looks at evolutionary and physiological reasons for things like monogamy, falling in love and breakups, sex, why our bodies have developed over the years and how our hormones affect us. Sara looks at these issues from a modern and social perspective too and peppers in her own experiences and anecdotes. This book doesn't shy away from issues either, covering things like rape, body image and eating disorders, female genital mutilation and a drawing of female genitals. Of course, seeing as Sara is a comedian, this book is witty and humourous and had me laughing out loud a few times. You can read my full thoughts and review of the book here. (NetGalley)

 

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

the little french guesthouse

Not going to lie, this bright cover was the reason I was first interested in this book! Emmy's relationship with her boyfriend Nathan seems to have lost its shine so Emmy suggests they go on holiday. They go to the beautiful La Cour des Roses, a guesthouse in the Loire valley in France. The book opens with Emmy looking for Gloria, the hostess of the house, because Gloria's husband Rupert has collapsed. Emmy finds Gloria in bed with Nathan! When Gloria and Nathan run off, Emmy is left heartbroken, trying to make sense of the events. To take her mind off things (and plagued with guilt) Emmy helps invalid Rupert run the guest house. This was a sweet book, perfect for getting swept up in the pretty French setting. I liked the mix of characters, it's great to see Emmy regain her confidence and self belief. I flew through this book, I read it in two sittings. If you're a fan of Jenny Colgan or Lindsey Kelk then you'll enjoy this French adventure! I look forward to the 2nd book, I was glad to see this is going to be a series! (NetGalley)

 

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

sofia khan is not obliged

Sofia Khan is Muslim and a hijabi (much to her mother’s dismay, who thinks she’ll never find a husband if she continues to wear a headscarf). Sofia works in publishing and gets asked to writing a book about Muslim dating. Having just got out of an engagement, Sofia is reluctant but agrees. What follows is Sofia joining a Muslim dating site, going on speed dating and dealing with her ex-fiancee. I mentioned this book in a book haul post in January. This book has been described as the ‘Muslim Bridget Jones’ and there are a lot of comparions. The book stands up on its own though. It isn’t just about dating and religion, we see other issues like family, friendships and racism. I found it very entertaining. Sofia is strong but flawed too, which I think makes this book work. I really liked the family and friendship dynamics too. I enjoyed an insight into a culture I don’t know much about and hope there is a second book as I would snap it up straight away!

 

Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

death of a red heroine

Set in Shanghai in 1990, a body has been found outside in a canal outside the city. It turns out to be the body of a Model Worker, prominent member of the Communist Party. Chief Inspector Chen is assigned to the case and told to keep party authories informed of this case which could turn very political. This book was interesting and different read for me. Chen is an interesting character, he’s not only a cop but a poet and book translator. He finds himself stuck in an awkward position, of wanting to investigate this case to the very end, regardless of politics (and his own personal future) and also trying to toe the Party line and do what’s best in the interest of the Party. We see how difficult it is at times to operate in this closed system. I liked seeing the relationship between Chen and his work partner blossom, as well as all of Chen’s other relationships (I wish we had seen a bit more of Overseas Chinese!). The book is peppered with a lot of poetry, which at times I found a bit tiresome but it does add to Chen’s poetic personality. The book also mentions bits and pieces of modern Chinese history, a lot I wasn’t fully aware of so it was interesting to find out more of another country and culture. The book is definitely a different take on detective novels but an interesting spin and I’ll probably check out the second book in the series.

April Stats

Number of Books Read- 19
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 16:3
Number of eBooks- 7 (Paper Girls, Desolation, Morgue, Animal, The Little French Guesthouse, Cruel Crown, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged )
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 11 (Jane, the Fox and Me, Rosalind Franklin, Anya’s Ghost, The Art of Being Normal, American Born Chinese, Death of a Red Heroine and Saga Volumes 1-5)

 

Book Riot Challenge Completed

Read a biography (Not autobiography or memoir)- Rosalind Franklin

Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender- The Art of Being Normal

Read the first book in a series by a person of colour- Death of a Red Heroine

Read a book about religion (fiction or non-fiction)- Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

And that’s April! It was a busy month but that’s mainly because of the graphic novels and short stories (don’t forget to check out the previous post if you’re interested to see what else I read this month). Please let me know below if you’ve read any of these or if you have any questions!

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Catrice Ultimate Nail Lacquer in Go For Gold! #BEDM

As I’ve said before on here, I’m a fan of rose gold. I did a post in November showing some of my recent nail looks which included a lot of rose gold and soft pinks. I did a rose gold stamped nails for Valentine’s Day. So I was excited to see this new rose gold polish from Catrice! There’s a few ‘go to’ rose gold polish, like Orly’s Rage, Essie’s Penny Talk and Model’s Own in Chrome Rose, but it’s great to have a rose gold polish that’s more affordable!

Catrice Ultimate Nail Lacquer Go For Gold (Rose Gold Nail Polish)

Catrice Ultimate Nail Lacquer Go For Gold! (Rose Gold Nail Polish)

I love the tone of this, how it’s more on the pinky side than the bronzey side. You do get brush strokes but that’s expected with a metallic polish. Go For Gold! should be on Catrice stands now.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Reads Part 1: Graphic Novels & Short Stories #BEDM

Hello! Day One of Blog Every Day in May has the topic set to Tell Us Something New or Introduce Yourself. I don’t have much time to do that at the moment, but here’s the link to my 1st day of BEDM last year which was a similiar post. Some of it is out of date but it’s still generally the same! I need to do an About Me page for the blog, so maybe this will be the kick I need to do so.

Usually when I list what I’ve read during the past month, I list it in order I read it. But in April I read a lot of graphic novels and short stories, so I thought I’d have a post just for those and the next one for all the longer books I’ve read.

Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson

paper girls volume 1

Four 12 year old newspaper delivery girls team up early in the morning following Halloween when weird things start happening in the neighbourhood. I requested this on NetGalley after I saw Sanne from Books & Quills mention it. I really liked what she showed and it lived up to my expectations. The girls are kick ass, the colour scheme is beautiful and I loved the pace and story. It reminded me a bit of Lumberjanes. I’m looking forward to reading more of this when it comes out.

 

 

 

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

kindred spirits

It’s no secret I’m a big Rainbow Rowell fan so I was excited to see there was a short story for World Book Day out (which I showed the other week in this book haul post). Kindred Spirits is about Elena, a MASSIVE Star Wars fan who decides to spend the week before the latest release queuing outside with all the other huge fans. But when she gets there she finds out there’s only two other people there. It was a cute story, worth reading if you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell and YA but as it’s only a short story it’s not a must-read.

 

 

 

Jane, The Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

jane the fox and me

I picked up this book after seeing Mercy from Mercy’s Bookish Musings talking about it. Shy and lonely Hélène finds herself being bullied by the girls she thought were her friends. They taunt her about her weight and how much of a loser she is. Hélène starts to build these things and is very insecure. Her only comfort is reading Jane Eyre. I loved this, it was heartbreaking at times but it really resonated with me. I loved the art work, how Hélène’s parts are more greyed out and Jane’s parts are done with colour. There are spoilers for Jane Eye so if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this first! But it’s well worth picking up, it’s one of my fave graphic novels.

 

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

anya's ghost

Anya is a typical teenage, embarassed by her family, self conscious about her body, wanting to fit in at school and has a crush on a guy who just so happens to be dating the most popular girl in school. Just when she thinks life can’t get worse she falls down a well and meets a ghost! After leaving the well, this ghost stays with Anya, which has it’s perks at first but takes a turn for the creepy and weird. I liked this, I liked how there’s a lighter fun side to it but also a dangerous side too. Anya doesn’t experience much growth, which might have been a nice addition to the story. A quick fun read!

 

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

cruel crown

Cruel Crown contains two short story prequels from the Red Queen series. In Queen Song, we see Cal's mother Coriane as a 15 year old and how she met Cal's father, the still to be King Tiberias, and how they fell in love. In Steel Scars we see Captain Farley, her help in the rebellion and how she comes to meet Shade and Mare Barrow. It was fun to see more sides of the story and learn more about some of the characters we don't know much about in Red Queen. These are not essential to the plot but rather helps to round out views more. I preferred Queen Song but I still enjoyed seeing the overlap of Farley's missions with Mare and the Queenstrial. If you loved Red Queen and Glass Sword (I reviewed both here), then you'll enjoy reading these short stories.

 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese

 American Born Chinese has 3 stories running through it. The first is the centre to this story, Jin Wang, who finds himself the only Chinese-American student in his class when his family moves. He just wants to fit in, though he is bullied constantly. The second is the Monkey King, which is one of the oldest Chinese fable stories. The third is Danny, a popular high school kid who’s life is ruined every time his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee, the epitome of negative Chinese stereotypes, comes to stay. I enjoyed the stories as they were but when they all came together is was amazing! The themes of racism and acceptance are really well portrayed. I’ve heard good things about this author’s Boxer and Saints books too so I’m going to pick them up if I can.

 

Saga Volumes 1-5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga Volumes 1-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had heard of Saga before picking up Paper Girls, so after reading that I decided I should pick up Saga after all, as I have heard some pretty amazing things about it. When I got to the library Volumes 1-5 were in so I just got them all out! Where to start on this?! I can’t describe what this is about properly! The book opens with two characters, a couple, where the woman is giving birth. We quickly discover that these are two people from the opposite sides of war who fell in love and ran off together, eventually having this baby. It becomes pretty clear fast that people want them dead, especially when they hear about this baby. Set in space, it’s got elements of sci-fi and fantasy. It contains sex, bad language and violence, so if you’re not happy with any of those, give this a miss (or make sure you’re happy for younger readers to consume it). I saw someone somewhere describe it as a rock opera set in space and I think it fits! I love the story, the characters, the drawing style and look forward to continuing with the series!

That’s it for now, I’ll have the rest of April’s Reads up soon enough, all with my stats and breakdown of the month. It’s been a fun, interesting new month for me overall! I’m pleased I picked up these graphic novels and have more planned for the future.

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe Book Review

Animal the Authobiography of a female body by Sara Pascoe book review I always enjoy seeing Sara Pascoe on my TV screen. She's witty, interesting and rarely fails to make me laugh. So when I saw she was writing a book and a book on feminism no less I couldn't wait to read it. As a subtitle 'The Autobiography of the Female Body' really suits. This book looks at many different aspects for what it's like to be a woman. Sara looks at evolutionary and physiological reasons for things like monogamy, falling in love and breakups, sex, why our bodies have developed over the years and how our hormones affect us. Sara looks at these issues from a modern and social perspective too and peppers in her own experiences and anecdotes. This book doesn't shy away from issues either, covering things like rape, body image and eating disorders, female genital mutilation and a drawing of female genitals.

This book obviously covers serious issues but it is done with a humorous touch. Sara had me laughing out loud at times! Her anecdotes are hilarious and also so personal and private. Sara speaks about her abortion and while I couldn't say it's refreshing to hear someone famous talking about their own personal abortion experience (as refreshing just doesn't seem like the most suitable word), it is important for people to talk more openly about abortions so it isn't such a shameful taboo. After her procedure, Sara chats to the girl in the bed next to her, who is from Ireland and I ended up highlighting this sentence 'I hope the law in Ireland has changed by the time this book is published so it's me that seems outdated rather than their legal system'. Unfortunately it hasn't changed yet but hopefully with the Repeal the 8th Campaign we're on our way here in Ireland to better future for women.

Sara acknowledges that this book isn't perfect. In the opening chapter she says that she knows that what's she's writing 'is about the experience of growing up in a female body and with the physiology of a female body, and this excludes the experiences of many women'. She points out throughout the book with footnotes that a lot of what said is hetro and cis-centric. Feminism has a lot of intersectionality with things like race, sexuality and gender idenity and this book doesn't address a lot of this. But as Sara says she's 'not attempting to be the last word in a conversation' she just wants 'to be part of it'. And I think it's a solid addition to this conversation. It's made me think and I've highlighted so many passages in this book to revisit and reread. I think this book would be a great starting point for younger readers wanting to know more about feminism as the tone makes it easy to read and Sara makes it easy to connect with her as a narrator. But it's a good read for any age to pick up and I really recommend you do.

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April Book Accquisitions

Hello!

Back in January I did my last book accquisitions post. I don’t want to call it a haul because in my mind a haul is done in one swoop (or one month) but these are picked up over time. And I can’t call this one recent book buys for reasons shown later on. Onwards to the books!

rainbow rowell, kindred spirits, broken monsters,lauren beukes, the secret lore of london, john matthews

Going from top to bottom

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell- This is one of the short story books for World Book Day. It’s the only WBD book I got, mainly because I’m a Rainbow Rowell fan (you can see my post on meeting her here). This is a story about Elena, a massive Star Wars fan who decides to queue outside the cinema for the new Star Wars film.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes- I won this on Goodreads and when it didn’t turn up, I contacted Killer Reads and they very graciously resent it to me. I don’t know too much about this book except it opens with the body of a dead boy being found, chopped in half and the other half has been replaced with half a deer. It’s most often listed as a horror and crime book in Goodreads and while it’s not something I’d usually gravitate towards, I looking forward to giving it a chance.

The Secret Lore of London by John Matthews- This is an ARC I requested on BookBridgr and it was sent by Coronet. I requested it as I LOVE reading about London and this book is about stories, historic and mythical, during the vast history of the city. The first half of the book is essays from experts in their fields and the second half is about the sites listed that are still in existence.

 

the way we were, sinead moriarty, somewhere inside of happy, anna mcpartlin, knights of the borrowed dark, dave rudden, the hurley maker's son, patrick deeley, the happy pear, david and stephen flynn, sisters and lies, bernice barrington, the republic, seamus murphy, busy mum's cookbook, annabel karmel, good and simple, hemsley and hemsley, mary berry, foolproof cooking

This stack of books I won from Penguin Random House Ireland on their Twitter account! From top to bottom

The Way We Were by Sinead Moriarty, Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin, Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden, The Hurley Maker’s Son by Patrick Deeley, The Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn, Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington, The Republic by Seamus Murphy, Busy Mum’s Cookbook by Annabel Karmel, Good + Simple by Hemsley and Hemsley, and Foodproof Cooking by Mary Berry.

I only got these yesterday so I still don’t know I whole lot about them. I am glad at some new cookbooks though! I always love cookbooks. I’m intrigued by Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington as last week on Twitter Sheena Lambert, author of The Lake which I read and reviewed in this post, recommended this book to me. Decisions decisions! I did bust of my Penguin mug yesterday and hand a browse of Mary Berry while eating crumpets.

 

         mary berry, foolproof cooking IMG_5763

Yes, I drink with the spoon still in the mug, I’m a monster!

 

Audio Books

I had some credits to use up and also availed of the Audible Daily Deal (I get an email every day with whatever book they’ve discounted, usually £1.99-£2.99)

the year of living danishly, helen russell, caitlin moran, moranifesto, soulless, gail carriger

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell- The author decides to move to Denmark, officially the world’s happiest country. This kind of thing is right up my alley, I love memoirs and stunt journalism style of books.

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran- I’ve read all Moran’s books and I listed this in my 2016 Book Releases post. I had hoped by library would get it in, but as I had credits to use up before they expired I picked this, only to find out the next day that the library has ordered it. Sigh! However I’m looking forward to listening to Moran read this, especially since Chloe over at Nurse Fancy Pants has listened to it and enjoyed it!

Soulless by Gail Carriger- I’ve read Gail Carriger before. I read her Finishing School series because my friend Brandy over at Undrinkable Brandy recommended it. She’s also read the this series and liked it so I’ve had it on my TBR for a while. But when I saw Elizabeth from Books and Pieces talk about the series and how much fun she’s having reading them that I decided to get this.

 

E-Books

I have a good few ebook ARCs but I’m not going to include these in this post. Instead I got one book on Kindle.

shio of magic, robin hobb

 Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb. This was a free book from Amazon, every now and again I’ll get an email saying I can get a free Kindle book from a list of 5-6 books. This was the only one that jumped out at me. I don’t know anything about this other that it’s a fantasy book and I’ve heard good things about Robin Hobb books before.

 

 

 

I still have that Easons e-voucher to use up, I just can’t seem to make my mind up. Like I said above, decisions decisions! If you’ve read any of the above, let me know what you thought in the comments below

Monday, April 4, 2016

March Reads 2016

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.

We’re in April already? How has this happened?! Anyway, for March I wanted to read mainly Irish authors, I blogged my TBR here. I got through most of them and read some others not on the list too.

March Reads

Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley

Can-anybody-help-me

I picked this one first as I knew Sharon from Behind Green Eyes had enjoyed it and it had been sitting on my Kindle for a while. Yvonne is a new mother in a new country who is struggling. She turns to the Netmammy forums to help her and she becomes friends with the other mothers on there. When one of the women goes offline and matches the description of a murder victim on the news, Yvonne is convinced it’s her friend. Sergeant Claire Boyle is pregnant and passionate about her job. She’s put on the case to investigate this murder but will anyone she takes Yvonne’s claims seriously? The book was a very fast quick read, you could easily read it in one go. I did enjoy it but I wasn’t blown away by it to be honest. I do love the fact Crowley used the idea of online friends and can you trust people you know online. Crowley has a second book out that also features Sergeant Claire Boyle which I think I’ll pick up as I liked that character.

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

flawed cecelia ahern

This is the first Cecelia Ahern book I’ve read and I requested it on NetGalley because it’s a dystopian YA book. If you’re sick of dystopian YA books and all the tropes that go with it, you might not enjoy this. I did read a lot of those books after reading The Hunger Games and some were good, some were dreadful. This is defintely in the better camp. It’s set in a world where if you make a moral mistake, you are marked as Flawed, by being branded in a certain area on your body. The book centres around perfect 17 year old Celestine, who believes in the Guild and the Flawed system. Celestine is left in a difficult postition after an incident on a bus. She can lie and pretend to be perfect and continue on with her life. Or she can tell the truth and risk being found Flawed. I wrote a proper review post which you can check out here if you’re interested in finding out more.

 

Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes

last chance saloon

I’ve mentioned before on here that I’m a fan of Marian Keyes. I reviewed her latest book which you can find here. I was staying at my aunt’s and saw this on her bookcase, so I picked it up and began to read. It follows Tara, Katherine and Fintan, who have all been friends since school in rural Ireland and now in their thirties, all living in London. Tara is forever on a diet, living with her horrible sexist penny pinching boyfriend and Katherine has been burned in the past and so she keeps herself single. Fintan has a boyfriend but his life takes a turn for the worst when he’s diagnosed with cancer. All their lives are thrown into disarray as they try to come together during this crisis. I enjoyed this book, I liked seeing the dynamics of the friendships. I’ll admit, there was times when I wanted to reach into the book and slap Tara! Her boyfriend was horrible. My favourite thread of the story was with Katherine and Joe. Marian does a great job at making you want to cry one minute and then laugh the next. The book is quite long though, I would have prefered it to be slightly shorter.

 

The Secret Place by Tana French

the secret place tana french

 I read the first Tana French book 2 years ago when I was reading all Irish authors for March 2014. The Secret Place is the 5th book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Detective Stephen Moran is working in the Cold Case Squad when 16 year old Holly Mackey (daughter of Frank Mackey, the main detective in book 3) comes to him with a photo claiming to know who killed a boy on grounds of the all-girls school a year earlier. Moran teams up with Detective Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives on the original case, to try and find out once and for all who killed Chris. This book was a bit different to the other books in the series. It’s told in present time, interviewing the girls in the school and trying to piece things together, as well as in past time, the months leading up to the murder from the prospective of the girls. Because the second narration was to do with the girls, I feel like we never got to know Detective Stephen Moran all that well, especially because the present time narrative is done over just one day. I will say that French manages to capture teenage friendships and nuances really well, with just enough nostalgia to have me thinking back to my school days! The mystery had me guessing til near the end when I twigged it and it was good to see Frank Mackey again, who lands on the scene when he finds out that Holly might be implicated. It’s possibly my least favourite of this series but it was still enjoyable. And I was delighted when Beth over at Plastic Rosaries told me that there’s a new book coming out later this year!

 

The Lake by Sheena Lambert

Adobe Photoshop PDF

This is another book I read because of Sharon’s review! The book was sent to me by the author last year but for some reason it just wasn’t capturing my attention until now. Set in 1975, a body is found on the shores of a man made lake. Detective Sergeant Frank Ryan is sent from Dublin to investigate. There he finds Peggy Casey, youngest of the Casey family, struggling to keep the family pub The Angler’s Rest afloat while her 3 older siblings barely help, too busy getting on with their lives. I enjoyed this book, it’s different than I expected. It IS a murder mystery but that’s not the forefront of the book. It’s really a family drama, where this mystery body is the catalyst for all these family secrets waiting to spill out. I liked the setting of the novel, I seem to be enjoying books set in 1970s as I also really liked The Trouble With Goats and Sheep. I liked the main character of Peggy, I felt myself rooting for her as she battles with her siblings, wanting to live her life but also not wanting to let the family business close. If you like your murder mysteries to be more thrilling and have a lot of tension, then you won’t get it here. But you will get a mystery that flows well, is a fast read and has likeable characters.

 

The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde

the importance of being ernest

I read The Picture of Dorian Gray in March 2014 and I enjoyed it (bar some rambling part midway through which bored me). I’ve been trying to read more plays and so I picked this one up, not really knowing much about it. Two friends, Jack and Algernon, have wooed two different woman using the same allias of Ernest. It all comes to head one weekend when all 4 people end up in the same house in the country and confusion (and hilarity) ensues! I really enjoyed this, I found it really witty and actually laughed out loud once or twice. I’d like to see a stage production of this if I get the chance.  If you’d like to try Oscar Wilde but you’ve put it off, I think this would be the best place to start.

 

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

the glorious heresies

For some reason I hadn’t heard of this book until it was announced as part of the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. I requested it on NetGalley and went into  it not knowing what to expect but I was bowled over by this. Jimmy Phelan, big career criminal, brings his mother Maureen home from London after she was banished there 40 years earlier for having him out of wedlock. One day she discovers an intruder in her house and bashes his head in with religious relic. And thus the story unfolds, linking together various people on the grittier side of life: the alcoholic abusive father Jimmy enlists to help get rid of the body, his 15 year old son Ryan who is a drug dealer and madly in love with his girlfriend, their nosy poisoness wannabe do-gooder Tara, prostitute and addict Georgie who just wants to know what happened to her missing boyfriend. The story spans 5 years and over those years we see these characters weave in and out of each others lives.

I love McInerney's writing, it was witty, gritty and grim. Having lived in the city it's set in for 4 years, I loved being able to know all the places this is set. I could hear the Cork lilt rise off the page reading the dialogue between characters. McInerney writes characters how are tough but show how vulnerable and self destructive they are too. I liked seeing the lives link up, I know some people might think it's convenient or cliched but I love when stories do this and I thought it was effortless. Well worth the read!

Demon Road by Derek Landy

demon road

Derek Landy is a name I’m familiar with as I have 2 siblings that loved the Skulduggery Pleasant books but I have never been tempted to pick one up. I kept seeing Demon Road everywhere though so I decided to chance it, I was going to get it from the library but it popped up on NetGalley as the second book is out soon, so I requested it there instead. 16 year old Amber lives a normal American life. Until she finds out that she's demon and that her demon parents plan to kill and eat her as part of their pact with the Shining Demon! Amber is forced to go on the run with the mysterious Milo to try and escape her parents and find a way to stop all this craziness.

I really enjoyed this book, I love how Amber is a normal girl (besides the demon aspect!) and how she's just trying to come to terms with all this and still be a good person. This book has ghosts, vampires, creepy murderous children. It's well paced, maybe too much so at times. It felt a bit formulaic with problem then solved on to next problem etc. but seeing as this is a young adult book that could be what I'm picking up on. And it didn't make me enjoy the book any less. I liked the characters and look forward to the next book which I’ve already started!

 

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

asking for it louise o neill

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of this book. Set in a small town in Ireland, Emma is a typical eighteen year old who enjoys going out and having fun with her friends at the weekend. After one weekend, she wakes up the next morning on her front porch, in agony and unable to remember the night before. But soon pictures and videos crop up online and Emma’s life is changed forever.

This book starts off as a normal enough read. O’Neill captures certain elements of being a teenager perfectly, the vernacular as well as the competitive element of constantly trying to be the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular. Emma isn’t a particularly likeable character, but I think this helps with the book because even though I didn’t like her, I still hated what happened to her and felt sorry for her. The main themes of this book is incredibly important, there’s so many issues here that need to be discussed more: rape, slut shaming, victim blaming, the hive mentality of small towns, using social media to shame people. I’m not surprised at the reaction of the people in this book, which as I type this makes the whole thing even more disgusting. The whole thing makes me so uneasy but that probably makes it even more of a reason to read this book. I did think it fell apart by the second half, it felt repetitive and I was a bit bored but it wouldn’t put me off telling people to read this book.

 

Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

who's that girl

The only non-Irish author I read and finished this month! Edie's life takes a turn for the worst when at her colleagues' wedding, the groom kisses her. Not wanting to face work, her boss agrees to give her a job back home in Nottingham, ghost writing the autobiography of the hot new actor Elliot Owens until things die down. Adding to all this is having to move back in with her father and her younger sister who seems to hate her.

This is the second Mhairi McFarlane book I've read and I enjoyed it. The book explores some interesting themes, like how the man in a cheating scandal can come out smelling like roses while the woman gets ostracised and torn to shreds. She also goes through how social media can make it much easier to do this and it reminded me a bit of So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I don't feel like I fully clicked with Edie as a character, I didn't hate her though and at times I did find myself cheering her on. I liked seeing her relationship with her sister and all the issues they have. One scene had me tearing up but then laughing by the final line. The end disappointed me a bit as I felt it left some things unresolved but I can see why McFarlane wanted the ending to be that way. It was an enjoyable quick read, perfect if you're a fan of Lindsey Kelk!

March Stats

Number of Books Read- 10
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 10:0
Ratio female to male- 8:2
Number of eBooks- 6 (Can Anybody Help Me?, Flawed, The Lake, The Glorious Heresies, Demon Road, Who’s That Girl? )
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 2 (The Secret Place and The Importance of Being Ernest)

Book Riot Challenge Completed

Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel- Flawed

Overall I felt this was a month of highs and lows for me. I probably would have read more but after I finished Asking For It, I started a biography and that has slowed me down a lot. I would have liked to have read all my TBR, I couldn’t have read the Shane Hegarty one but I still have Miss Emily to read. And I really wasn’t in the mood to listening to anything so I didn’t start  The Gathering. I finished no non-fiction which has annoyed me as I haven’t read a lot of non-fiction this year. 9 months in the year left to change that though!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...