Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent Book Review

Lying in Wait

This book certainly captures you from the very first sentence

'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it."

Well that grabbed my attention! It's 1980s Dublin and Andrew and Lydia are a respectable couple, who look to have it all: beautiful grand house and estate called Avalon, Andrew's career as a judge, their 17 year old son Laurence. But underneath they have many secrets and struggles. When drug addict and prostitute Annie Doyle winds up accidentally dead by their hands, Lydia and Andrew try to cover it up by burying her in the garden but not everything can be swept under the rug and slowly a loose thread unravels the truth.

The story is told in 3 different perspectives over 5-6 years: Lydia (who knows what happened and is desperate to keep the truth from her son and to keep him with her in Avalon), Laurence (who's obese and relentlessly bullied in school but who has picked up on the atmosphere at home and has suspicions) and Karen (Annie's sister who refuses to give up hope and is determined to find her sister). I do like multiple perspectives so I enjoyed this but I did find there was quite a lot of repetition across the stories at times, which felt a bit tedious unless it was also uncovering new information. Nugent has crafted some well thought out characters. I liked Laurence and felt sorry for him, I rooted for him as he had horrible parents. I also liked Karen and rooted for her too. Lydia is a piece of nasty work, straight off I didn't like her (I don't think anyone is supposed to like her!). She will do almost anything to protect her reputation and to get what she wants but she has layers due to her upbringing and is no doubt an interesting villian, she does make you think.

Nugent effortlessly weaves the story together and just when you think you've figured something out, you'll get thrown a curve ball! We get hints of the 80s without being bombarded by it, from Live Aid, Prince Andrew and Fergie marrying and Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red to leaving a marriage with no chance of divorce and the implication and social stigmas of that as well as women being institutionalised due to falling pregnant out of wedlock. Class, race, appearance, self control and control over others are big issues, sometimes in subtle ways and often with dark humour. This is a fast reading, twisty turny page turner mystery that will keep you guessing to find out the reason to WHY this happened and how all the pieces of the jigsaw finally fall into place. [NetGalley]

Friday, July 29, 2016

BookTubeAThon 2016 Results

Last week was the 4th BookTubeAThon and it seems I’ve fallen into a pattern. The first year in 2013 I completed all the challenges, as I did last year too. When I did it the 2nd year in 2014 I didn’t fully complete the challenges, which happened this year too. I was on track until the Friday, when I went visiting family and when I got home for the weekend I spent most of my reading time playing Heads Up! with my family. No regrets!

Books Read


Love Poems by Carol Ann Duffy

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

The Burning by Jane Casey

When We Collided by Emery Lord

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

So I finished the first 4 books (in the order I finished them but not started) and I started reading Lying in Wait on the Sunday. I knew I wouldn’t finish it but it’s one of the Books of the Month for the Rick O’Shea bookclub so I wanted to get it started. Here are the challenges I completed

Read a book only at night- Love Poems

Read a book only than you- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Read a book found through BookTube- Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Read a book with yellow on the cover- When We Collided

If I had chose my books differently I would have maybe completed most of my challenges, two of my books didn’t fit into any catagories. I was also hoping to get some of the graphic novels I have on request at the library but they didn’t come in on time. I had hoped to finish all the challenges so I’m disappointed I didn’t but I still had fun doing this readathon, I always enjoy when BookTubeAThon time comes around. Until next year!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Muse by Jessie Burton Book Review

The Muse book cover, second novel by The Miniaturist author Jessie Burton

I really enjoyed The Miniaturist last year so when I saw that Jessie Burton had a new book out I was intrigued. I mentioned it in part 2 of 2016 Book Releases I’m Anticipating. I read the blurb and while it sounded interesting (two women from different eras that have a mysterious link), it didn't hook me immediately. But seeing that I really liked The Miniaturist I thought I'd give it a go. And I am SO glad I did!

We start in 1960s London with Caribbean immigrant Odelle, who has been living in London for 5 years and aspires to be a writer. When she is offered a week's trial as a typist at an art gallery, she decides to take a chance and quits her job at a shoe shop. She quickly becomes intrigued and captivated by Marjorie Quick, her eccentric, aloof boss. Odelle comes across a painting that's rumoured to be an Issac Robles piece, a talented Spanish painter who died in mysterious circumstances during the Spanish Civil War. While everyone else is very excited about this painting, Quick has a strange reaction upon seeing it and Odelle begins to wonder if Quick's secrecy is tied to history of this painting. Olive Schloss is the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer father and English heiress mother. She follows her parents out to Spain in 1936 and they're greeted by Teresa Robles and her half brother Issac, who spot an opportunity to take advantage of these wealthy foreigners. Teresa becomes their housekeeper while Issac is their part time gardener. When Olive's mother Sarah discovers that Issac's secretly paints, she requests he paint her and Olive as a present for her husband Harold. Olive has a secret of her own but then again, so does everyone else in that household. Art, passion and secrecy all come to the forefront as everyone tries to gain the attention and affection of others while also hiding their secrets. Adding to this is politics, as clashes occur in Germany as well as Spain being on the brink of a civil war, which creates more tension.

The story crosses back and forth between these different times but it's not a seamless crossing. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that bits and pieces of overall story come out, until you can piece it all together near the end. If you're anything like me you'll be guessing all through but even if you manage to guess correctly, there's still loads in here that I didn't see coming! I enjoyed being in both worlds, I really warmed to Odelle's character as the novel progressed and she grew. She's smart, strong, talented and ambitious but also has doubts and knows that even if she works hard to become a writer, she will face stumbling blocks because she is a woman and also because she is an immigrant. We see similar features when it comes to Olive, who is also talented, an immigrant and knows she is at a disadvantage because she is a woman. But they're not mirror images of each other and they have plenty of differences too. While Olive is still an immigrant, she does have a lot more privilege and coupled with her being younger than Odelle, she comes across as naive and self centred at times.

While I enjoyed the Spanish side of the story, it was a tiny bit slow at times but I loved all the twists and turns! Jessie Burton weaved such an intricate story and oh boy does she know how to turn a phrase or two! When Odelle speaks about her co-worker's boyfriend she says 'Pamela wore Billy like a medal, but thinking of the men I'd seen there, I wondered if he was more of a bronze than a gold' which tickled me. I also liked Odelle and Quick's relationship, how Quick tries to encourage Odelle's talent. I read a review somewhere that suggests that the plot is heavy handed and Burton has suffered from a case of 'second story syndrome'. I don't think that at all, I think Burton has succeeded in writing a fantastic follow up that lives up to the same standards as The Miniaturist and confirms that she's a great writer. [NetGalley]

Monday, July 18, 2016

American Roadtrip! Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam

Last week I had a post showing some of the things my boyfriend and I did on holidays when we were in LA. We also went on a road trip as my boyfriend really wanted to go to Las Vegas. And so I decided if we were going to Vegas, I wanted to go to the Grand Canyon! So we rented a car and off we went for three days.

First off we left LA and headed for Vegas. It took us 4 hours to drive there. At first I was nervous about the drive, as the drivers in LA can be a bit erratic! But my boyfriend coped really well at driving on the other side of the road! The trip there was tiring so by time we checked in I really needed a nap (so rock ‘n’ roll!) so after that grabbed something to eat and walked down the Vegas Strip at night. As we were staying at the Circus Circus hotel, we walked down as far as the Bellagio to see the fountains, stopping along the way to look at the other hotels, specially the canals in the Venetian. Vegas is a whole other world! It’s great for people watching and if you’re a party person, you’ll probably love going there! I’m not, so I found it a bit overwhelming but I did enjoy the people watching aspect and all the crazy hotels. The heat though! At midnight I was still in a t-shirt because it was so so warm out. It was glorious standing by the fountains and other water features because it gave some relief!


vegas hotels Circus Circus, Bellagio, Venetian Hotel with canal, Bellagio fountain show

Clockwise from top left: Circus Circus hotel, Bellagio Hotel, canals inside Venetian hotel, Bellagio fountain show


The next day we got up early to drive to Grand Canyon! We decided to go to the Southern Rim as I’d heard the views there were the best but it did mean it took us 5 hours to drive there. And 5 hours back! Was it worth it though? Yes it was! In hindsight we should have stayed the night closer to there as it was a lot of driving but I’m just so happy we went. It truely is breath taking and I really want to read up more on the history of the place. We also got to travel on parts of Route 66, including posing with some vintage cars at a gas stop.

grand canyon, American flag at half mast

American flag was at half mast at Grand Canyon (and most other places) because of the tragic events in Orlando, Florida at the weekend

When we arrived back in Vegas that night we ate at our hotel, had a few drinks and gambled to help us wind down after the long day. Unfortunately I didn’t win the jackpot otherwise I’d be off somewhere right now! We had a well deserved lie in before checking out, hitting up the breakfast buffet and gift shops before leaving the hotel. We visited the famous Vegas sign, the one thing I really wanted to do in Vegas. It was a good half an hour wait in the swelting sun but it’s a Vegas must do!

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign

Before truly leaving Vegas, we visited Sin City Knit Shop so I could pick up some yarn as a present to myself! Then we headed back in the direct of the Grand Canyon but only for an hour. On the way there the previous day we past Hoover Dam but didn’t have a chance to stop. We decided we’d detour there before heading back to LA. The first thing we did was go on the Memorial Bridge, which looks down over the dam. It is THE windiest place I’ve ever been! Then we went to have a look around Hoover Dam itself. We were too late to do any of the tours but there’s still enough to look at and read without doing that. It’s actually pretty fancy looking! There’s so much beautiful Art Deco design and the doors are gold! Probably not real gold but there’s such an element of decadence. The heat that day was unreal. LA was hot too but being by the sea seemed to make it easier. Being in the desert the heat was unrelenting!


hoover dam

View from Memorial Bridge, look down on Hoover Dam; View from Hoover Dam looking up at Memorial Bridge; vintage cars at Route 66 gas stop

After Hoover Dam, we drove back to LA, stopping at a Walmart for some essentials and to stretch our legs. I never looked at the food section when I was in there and I’m kicking myself as I probably would have found some interesting Oreo flavours! I was too busy looking at the beauty bits and obsessed with finding nail polish heaven which I didn’t find. I wanted rows upon rows of shelves of nail polishes and didn’t really come close. But I did find some beauty bits which I’ll share later in the week. After returnign to LA, we had two more days there’s before our flight home. One of those days was at the Emma Cline book event in Skylight Books which I’ll also be blogging about soon!

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 BookTubeAThon Challenges and TBR

It’s that time of read again! Summer time means the BookTubeAThon! For any of you not familiar with the BookTubeAThon, then let me explain. It’s a week long readathon, run by the lovely Ariel Bisett. It started in 2013 so this is the 4th year running. Ariel sets some reading challenges, as well as video challenges and fun Twitter challenges over at the BookTubeAThon Twitter account, with different booktubers taking the reins over the week.

It’s a bit of fun and you don’t have to be a booktuber or blogger to take part! You don’t have to do any of the challenges either you if you don’t want to. If you just to try read a bit more than you usually do and see what everyone else is up to that’s perfectly fine! I love doing the challenges and seeing what other friends are doing too. Here are the challenges:

1. Read a book with yellow on the cover
2. Read a book only after sunset (night time only!)
3. Read a book you discovered through booktube
4. Read a book by one of your favourite authors
5. Read a book older than you
6. Read a book, then watch the film adaptation
7. Read 7 books

The best thing about these challenges is that you can double or triple up on them. So if you have a book by a favourite author that also has yellow on the cover, then bam! You have two challenges down already! I have picked 7 books and some can fit into several of the categories, though I haven’t decided if I’ll double up or not yet. This month has been a bit of a slump for me so hopefully I can pick up again! Some of mine are also dependant on them coming in on time at the library so if they don’t I’ll have to figure out something else. All part of the fun!


End of Watch by Stephen King (Book by Favorite Author)

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Book through booktube)

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Book to film)

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (book older than you)

The Burning by Jane Casey

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (book with yellow on the cover)

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Some of the books don’t have a category yet, partly because I haven’t decided what will be my night only book. The Liz Nugent is because I want to read it for the Rick O’Shea Bookclub and I hope to get some of my Book Riot Read Harder challenges.
Here are some links if you’re interested in enjoying in! BookTubeAThon YouTube Page, BookTubeAThon Twitter Page, Ariel Bisett YouTube.

And my links for previous years
2013- TBR post. Results post
2014- TBR post. Results post
2015- TBR post. Results post

And seeing as one of my favourite things about BookTubeAThon is seeing what others are reading, I can’t wait to see my friends are planning! Sharon from Behind Green Eyes has a post up, which you can check out here. I’d love to hear if you’re taking part! Leave a comment below and let me know

Thursday, July 14, 2016

LA Trip


View first morning in LA!

Last month I went to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. It was such an amazing trip! The last time I had been properly abroad before this was 2008, when I went to Prague (I say properly abroad as I have been back and forth between UK and Ireland every year and it doesn’t really count to me!). The last time I’d been properly abroad with my boyfriend was 10 years ago! Yes TEN! We went on holiday with a bunch of friends summer of 2006 to London, Rome and Paris. So I was very excited to be going to LA, a present my boyfriend got me for Christmas and to celebrate 10 years going out together. We were so lucky to visit our friends K&K in LA, who had stayed with us in 2012 and who we went to London with in 2013. K&K graciously put us up for our visit and were fantastic hosts, knowing locals really makes such a difference.



The first day we went to Downtown LA, went to The Last Bookstore (I’ll have another post with pictures from there), wandered around looking at the buildings and Union Station, getting a mini tour of the area. Tha evening we went to see a Dodgers game, which was super fun! And of course, we had to have a famous Dodgers Dog while there!



Disneyland was another big day for us! I’ve only ever been to Disneyland Paris before (on that 2006 trip actually!) so it was fun to try out another one. We had a blast, even getting soaked on Splash Mountain! I had my first Dole Whip as well, after hearing about it from friends. It was DELICIOUS! Seriously, I want another one now!



Clockwise from top- The ‘Y’ in the Hollywood artwork outside the Hollywood Museum of Death; Craft and Folk Art Museum; La Brea Tar Pits; Craft and Folk Art Museum

I love going to museums so I was glad we got to go to some in LA. First off we visited the Hollywood Museum of Death. It’s not for the faint of heart! I did enjoy it, I spent a long time looking at everything, it’s certainly fascinating, but I do think that one or two exhibits were there for more of a shock factor and therefore they were tacky. Another day we wandered around the La Brea Tar Pits. While there is a museum you can pay in to look around, if you don’t fancy that then there’s loads of information around the grounds. Across the road is the Craft and Folk Art Museum, a small gallery that has a cute gift shop. I really regret not buying the drinking glasses with cacti on them!



Of course, being in LA it’s hard not to go check out Hollywood. If you just want to see The Chinese Theatre and the handprints, as well as the Walk of Fame (like I did, I wasn’t interested in doing a tour), then it can be easily done in half an hour. It does get crowded around there, it is perfect for people watching though!



While we didn’t see any celebrities ‘in the wild’ we did see some! Our friends scored us tickets to a Conan O’Brien recording so we got to see Conan, Andy Richter and Will Arnett. Conan is such a pro, he only messed up once and he was very funny. I also won a t-shirt at the show! That night we went to a comedy show, Hot Tub Show, which was hosted by Kristen Schaal. We also walked past the Bernie Sander’s cafe, which isn’t really a celebrity I know, but seeing as it was around the time of the Californian primary there was loads of people milling about taking pictures!



No trip to LA would really be complete without a trip to the beach! The photos above were taken at Santa Monica pier, we spent a whole day there wandering around, taking pictures and just having a relaxing day. Got to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean!



As our flight out of LA was at 6pm, my friends suggested we go look around Venice Beach for an hour or two. We spent most out time at the skatepark, it’s mesmirising around there! The picture on the left was taken in the evening we spent at Santa Monica. We walked up along the beach towards Venice Beach but stopped when we saw a bunch of people slacklining. I couldn’t resist trying it myself so eventually I gathered the nerve and hopped up on the smallest line!

I realised after returning that I’m a crappy blogger. Because I took zero photos of food! Even though there’s no photos, oh boy was it amazing. Trust me! Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, after drinks snacks, we had it all! I’ll need to learn how to make my own French Dip sandwich.

I’ll have a separate post for my roadtrip to Vegas and Grand Canyon, another for the bookish delights and one for the small beauty buys. But for now thanks again K&K for helping to make our holiday amazing!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

June Reads 2016

June was a quiet enough month for me reading wise. I was on holiday in LA for 2 weeks at the beginning of the month and after returning home there was a bereavement in the family so it’s been an eventful month. I did manage to finish a few books though so here they are.

June Reads

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

hark! a vagrant

I had requested this from the library a few months ago but the copy is missing so I never got to read it. Boo! Luckily the friend I was staying with on holiday had it on her bookshelf so I read it before bed one night. Kate Beaton has a history degree and she uses that as one of her influences for her comics, along with pop culture references. This made me laugh out loud, it’s very clever at times! I particularly like the Nancy Drew covers explained. You can check out Kate Beaton’s work at


Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe

paradise lodge nina stibbe

Paradise Lodge sees the return of Lizzie Vogel, now 15 years old, last seen in Man At the Helm. Lizzie has just got a job in a nursing home which is on the verge of shutting down when the owner's wife leaves and starts up a rival nursing home. Lizzie immerses herself in trying to keep the home afloat, to the detriment of her school work, as well as trying to cope with her family and her new crush on her friend's boyfriend. I thought it was a sweet story, I didn't love it as much as Man at the Helm, I felt like the Lizzie from that book had changed. Though let’s be fair, it's probably because Lizzie is now a teenager and that perfect mix of childlike naivety and grownup attitude is gone and replaced with teen angst. I did think that closer to the end I had refound old Lizzie's voice and gotten to like who Lizzie was now. And while we're talking about voices, this has Stibbe's classic mix of charm, humour and darkness. We don't see a lot of the chaos that we see in the first book, mainly because Lizzie doesn't spend as much time at home as she's working but we do still see her eccentric mother and her destructive side at times! An interesting and different take on a coming of age story. [NetGalley]


Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton

Step Aside Pops

Not only did friend have Hark! A Vagrant on her bookshelf but she also had the follow up Step Aside, Pops. I enjoyed this one too, it also made me laugh out loud at times, but I still think I prefered the first book. Saying that, if you liked Hark! A Vagrant then you’ll enjoy Step Aside, Pops just as much.




Civil War by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

Civil War Marvel

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard of the Avengers. I wanted to read this before seeing Captain America: Civil War but only got around to reading it after. Nonetheless it was still worth reading as there are some differences between this and the film adaptation (which always happens) and I enjoyed the drawing style in here. There’s way more characters in this too, some I’m not 100% familiar with so I think someone with more knowledge of the Marvel Universe would appreciate some of these inclusions more than me. But even if you’re more familiar with the films than the comics, it’s still worth checking this out. As to whether the book or the film is better, each have their own merits. I will say I probably preferred the film, partly because I don’t know a lot of the other characters mentioned or their history. And also because it does a better job at amping up the tension between the two sides. However this book does show the X-Men and Fantastic Four, who belong to a different studio and therefore never show up in the Captain America or Avengers films and it was nice to see a broader look at the Marvel Universe to see how these heroes fit into it too.


Ms. Marvel Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

ms marvel

Ms. Marvel follows the story of Kamala Khan, a nerdy teenager from Jersey City. One night after sneaking out she gets hit by a mist that gives her powers to shape shift, which she uses to change into her hero Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and saves a classmate. Kamala now must come to terms with having a super power and how to use it as well as being a teenage girl and a Muslim too. I thought it was a good introduction to the character, I liked Kamala and I love the idea of a young teenage female Muslim superhero. The story didn’t blow me away but like I said it’s a good introduction to Ms. Marvel and I look forward to picking up the next few volumes.



We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists

This essay is adapted from Adichie’s TEDx talk, something I have yet to watch (I’m dreadful when it comes to watching things!). But when I spotted it for 99p on Kindle (as of writing this it is still this price so have a look!) I decided to buy it. It’s a very short read, I read it while waiting in the car for my Mum one morning but it hits on some important points. I think it’s a great starting point for anyone hoping to read up on feminism or to introduce teenagers to writings on feminism. In fact, Sweden agrees with me because every teenager in Sweden is to receive a copy of this! 



Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

grunt mary roach

I listed this as my most anticipated book of 2016 and like other Mary Roach books, it’s definitely a good ‘un! I bought this the day it was released in a great little indie bookshop called Skylight Books in LA and read it throughout the month. It took me a while to get through but that was more because I didn’t want to rush it! In this book, Mary investigates how the military uses science to tackle some big problems it faces (clothing issues, diarrhoea, infections from wounds, sleep deprivation to name a few) and speaks to experts and scientists who are trying their best to solve these problems. I love Mary’s writing on subjects, she always makes it interesting and accessible. She doesn’t go in depth, each chapter is more a snapshot on the chapter focus. To be in depth, each chapter would need to be it’s own book. But it does whet the appetite and has plenty of interesting content that will have you saying ‘did you know….?’. If you liked Packing for Mars by Mary Roach then you’ll probably really enjoy this one!


June Stats

Number of Books Read- 7

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:2

Number of eBooks- 2(Paradise Lodge, We Should All Be Feminists)

Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 2 (Civil War, Ms. Marvel)



Book Riot Reading Challenge Completed


Read a book that was adapted into a movie and watch the movie. Debate which is better- Civil War


And that was my short June! Half the books I read in May but still more than I thought I’d get read. If you’ve read any of these or want to know about a book leave a comment below!

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