Archive for July, 2012

Review: The Murder on the Links – Agatha Christie

Cover of The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

Title: The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication date: 3 March, 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-00-711928-8
Length: 319 pages
Genre: Mystery
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.

But why is the dead man wearing his son’s overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse…

My thoughts

The Murder on the Links is Christie’s third novel and the second Hercule Poirot mystery. I had some vague memory of watching the film adaptation on telly a few years ago but funnily enough, the story was completely new to me and apart from the fact that it’s set somewhere in France and there’s a golf course involved, I didn’t remember a thing. And how grateful I am for that! Had I remembered anything else, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did. And in spite of the fact that I don’t think any of her books can top And Then There Were None, it was definitely one of the best mysteries she’s ever written.

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Showcase Sunday #14

Hello and welcome to Showcase Sunday. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

This week on Books, Biscuits, and Tea

♦ On Monday I posted about two upcoming blog tours you can still sign up for
♦ On Friday I shared my top 5 books that made me laugh out loud

Random House Canada’s Olympic Readathon started on Friday which is the main reason for my absence this week. The other reasons being that I was hunting for birthday gifts, working, and trying to get some reading done with more or less success. I’m sorry for being terribly slow at responding to your comments – I’ll reply as soon as possible, I promise! Also, if you need some motivation and you fancy joining the readathon, you can still do so by clicking here. It runs until the 12th of August I believe so you’ve plenty of time. :) I’m actually quite proud of myself because on top of work, replying to tons of emails and everything else I managed to read more than 300 pages already. *beams* Anyway, let’s see what came in the mail this week!

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Top 5 Books That Will Make You Laugh Out Loud

Hello and welcome back! :) I’ve been thinking about writing this post since last week but it’s only now that I finally managed to sit down and get down to work. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my favourite books that made me laugh out loud in case you have some free time and you’re looking for an entertaining read. These books are (in no particular order) :

 Public Confessions Of A Middle Aged Woman by Sue Townsend The Public Confessions Of A Middle Aged Woman by Sue Townsend

Sue Townsend has been one of my favourite writers for many, many years and The Public Confessions Of A Middle Aged Woman is by far my favourite book of hers. It’s a collection of short stories she’s written for Sainsbury’s Magazine, i.e. it’s non-fiction but don’t let this put you off! I rarely read non-fiction but this book had me roaring with laughter all the way through the end. It covers everything from shopping and travelling to daytime telly and burglaries – funny little stories you can read on the way to work, as well as on holiday. She’s HILARIOUS and terribly witty – you just can’t not love her.

 Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes


Further Under the Duvet
by Marian Keyes

Further Under the Duvet  is another short story collection – the idea is similar to Townsend’s book but their style is oh-so-different! Regular readers of my blog know that I love everything Marian has ever written and even though some of her books made me quite emotional, Further Under the Duvet just had me in stitches. There are stories about surviving Christmas, fake tan, spas, chocolate (of course), and bus journeys with Irish people who keep singing until dawn and just won’t shut up. You know those books where you just want to jump up and down and shout “Oh God, me too, me TOO”? Now, this is definitely one of them. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

 Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna
Come to the Edge
by Joanna Kavenna

Come to the Edge is quite a new addition to my list since I only finished it this time last week. As opposed to the books above, this is the first time I’ve read anything by Joanna Kavenna so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. To say that it was a pleasant surprise would be the understatement of the year. It’s quirky, sarcastic, and nothing like you’ve ever read before. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining read then this is the one you’re looking for. I can’t recommend it enough!

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Showcase Sunday #13

Hello and welcome to Showcase Sunday. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

This week on Books, Biscuits, and Tea

♦ On Monday I was talking about whether bloggers should charge authors for favourable reviews
♦ On Wednesday I reviewed Niamh Greene’s A Message to Your Heart
♦ On Friday I reviewed Joanna Kavenna’s Come to the Edge

Incoming books

Showcase Sunday #13♦ Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler (won)
♦ Lost Girls by Ann Kelley (won)
♦ The First Time I Saw Your Face by Hazel Osmond (for review)
♦ The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (purchased)

Another great week, filled with some lovely surprises! Apart from our monthly book club read (Agatha Christie) I’m doing my best not to buy any more books until I read at least some of my review copies/books from my TBR pile. So imagine my surprise when The First Time I Saw Your Face landed on my doorstep early this week, followed by a package from The Book Belles.

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Review: Come to the Edge – Joanna Kavenna

Cover of Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna

Title: Come to the Edge
Author: Joanna Kavenna
Publication date: 12 July 2012
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-78087-213-1
Length: 295 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

She didn’t mean to become a revolutionary. She thought she was going on a rural retreat.

Take one narrator looking to ‘get away from it all’. Put her in a shambolic, draughty farmhouse in a scenic valley with two psychotic goats and a village-full of empty second homes and scores of poor and elderly people with nowhere to go…

Add one widowed survivalist called Cassandra White and an absent banker. Stir in an escalating state of hostilities between the haves – who don’t use what they have – and the have-nots – who decide on a crazy utopian scheme to reclaim the valley for the locals. And what do you get? A hilarious, timely satire from Joanna Kavenna, the prize-winning author of Inglorious and The Birth of Love

My thoughts

Come to the Edge for me was one of those books that you instantly fall in love with. I was looking for a relatively short but entertaining read the other day and despite not having the faintest idea what to expect, I decided to pick this one up. Well, here’s what you can expect: a quirky, sarcastic and hilarious duo, a most unusual plot and roaring with laughter at 1 a.m when everyone else is sleeping.

Come to the Edge tells the story of our unknown narrator, a suburban housewife who’s been through a marriage break-up and who just wants to get away from it all. She answers a mysterious and quite unusual advertisement for an unpaid companion on a small farm in the Lake District. Upon arriving in this rural village she finds Cassandra White, an eccentric widow who doesn’t believe in such things as tertiary education or religion and who abhors modern conveniences like television, supermarket food, or central heating.And this is where things are starting to get complicated. Every day is a struggle for our narrator who is used to the conveniences of a suburban home but who, despite everything, decides to stay. The novel is about her rather strange friendship with Cassandra, about the differences between rural and suburban life, between the rich and the poor. Take all these ingredients, add a pinch of sarcasm and 3 tablespoons of humour and you get Joanna Kavenna’s masterpiece.

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Review: A Message to Your Heart – Niamh Greene

Cover of A Message to Your Heart by Niamh Greene

Title: A Message to Your Heart
Author: Niamh Greene
Publication date: May 30, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Ireland
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-844-88261-8
Length: 357 pages
Genre: Chick lit
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Frankie Rowley is far too practical to believe in karma or fate…

Work-obsessed Frankie is also far too busy to spend time with her family or friends. They all reckon the strongest relationship she has is with her phone. (And why not? At least it never judges her when she cancels dinner for the millionth time.) So when she loses that precious phone on a crucial business trip to San Francisco, Frankie is beside herself – her life was on it.

Sure, Frankie can make and take calls on a hired phone, but it’s not the same. This new phone isn’t a part of her like the old one. And the last straw is when she starts getting texts meant for someone else – someone called Aimee. This Aimee seems like a lot of fun, and clearly her family loves to keep in touch, but why is Frankie getting her messages?

Bad enough that she has lost her old phone, but now Frankie is supposed to share her new one with some stranger. Frankie goes on the warpath, but she is in for some surprises when she blunders into Aimee’s life. And the biggest surprise of all is how your life can be changed for ever by losing a phone.

Frankie may not believe in karma or faith, but suddenly they seem to believe in her…

My thoughts

Even though I have a copy of the Secret Diary of a Demented Housewife – one of Niamh Greene’s earlier books – I haven’t managed to read it yet. So when I received A Message to Your Heart, I had no idea what to expect. The story itself reminded me a little bit of Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number but it turned out to be completely different. However, it is an entertaining and a very uplifting read – if you like this genre and you’re looking for a quick summer read then it is definitely something you must add to your reading list.

If I had to pick one thing I enjoyed the most in this book then I would say the setting and the way San Francisco is described in the story. At the end of the book the author mentions that she spent some time living in San Francisco and in this novel she tried to give a sense of what this city meant to her – and she really managed to get her message across. I’ve been fascinated by this place ever since I read Meg Donohue’s How to Eat a Cupcake and the two books are quite similar in this respect. Both of them are very atmospheric and they’re guaranteed to make you feel as if you were there, sitting on the balcony of a small Italian restaurant in the dazzling sunshine, eating pizza and sipping a glass of wine.

As for the characters, I think Frankie, with her slightly sarcastic attitude and Irish humour, makes a great narrator. Take Frankie – a workaholic and tiny bit impatient literary agent whose only hope for saving her agency is signing a book deal with a writer called Ian -, add a stubborn and eccentric writer called Ian who’s afraid to step outside his comfort zone and who’s like a big kid, and spice it up with the world’s clumsiest PA named Helen and you know you’re in for a funny adventure!

The only thing I wasn’t particularly fond of is the fact that the story can be quite predictable at times. Aimee’s story is a nice touch and I love the mystery element in the novel but as soon as it turns out who’s behind these unknown messages and why they’re texting Frankie instead of Aimee, it’s quite easy to predict where the story is going and what’s going to happen next.

Other than that, it’s a nice summer read filled with down-to-earth characters, beautiful setting and more importantly, humour – it’s definitely one of those books that you can read in your garden with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) in hand on a bright summer day. If you’re looking for a book to take on holiday, A Message to Your Heart is a must-have.

Teaser

“In another corner there’s a playground where children are pushing each other energetically on the swings and scrambling up and down the slide. How easy everything is when you’re a kid – the worst that can happen is that your best friend can go higher on the swing than you. If only the rest of life was so straightforward.”

 

Rating:
3 star rating
*Thank you to Penguin Ireland and Niamh Greene for sending me a review copy of this book*

Bookish Ramblings: Should bloggers charge authors for reviews?

Hello and welcome to this week’s Bookish Ramblings here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. Today’s post is a short response to this insanity that I keep seeing on my Twitter timeline today, namely this article. If you know me then you will also know that I try to do my best to stay out of any kind of blogger drama that is going on. Today, however, I really am in shock and I just couldn’t let it go.

Long story short, author Michele Gorman sent an email to a group of bloggers called ChickLitGirls to consider reviewing her book, Misfortune Cookie. In their reply, the Chick Lit girls stated that they’re very selective when it comes to review copies and they always make sure they’re interested in the story before they accept such a request. Fair enough, that’s what all of us do, right? There’s no point in accepting review books that are not your cup of tea, since you couldn’t do them justice anyway. This is all very well, until we get to the following part:

“Currently, we have so many requests for book reviews and promotion help, that we do have about a 3-4 week wait list. Because we have such a large amount of book review requests, we have had to start charging for them . So now we are now charging a fee of $95.00 per review and subsequent postings. That includes a nice review with the short synopsis that comes with your book, a picture of the book with a link to purchase it from Amazon.”

And this is where I literally buried my face in my hands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming them. I’m sure there are a lot more blogs out there who charge authors for their reviews – it just makes me really, really sad that there are people who are actually willing to pay for this. Why?

1, Because this is not what blogging is about. You -hopefully- started your blog because you want to keep track of the books you read, because you love books and you like talking about them, not because you want to make money. As a book blogger you might be contacted by authors and publishers who might offer you review copies for free. And if they do, you should be grateful and consider yourself very, very lucky. Not everyone has the opportunity to work with these publishers, not to mention review copies and the fact that you’re reading them months before they’re actually released.

2, Because as a reader, I want to know what you really think about the book and not how flattering you can be. Everyone can say nice things about a book but what’s the point in lying? I’d rather read mixed reviews of a book that are true and built on constructive criticism than a bunch of 5 star reviews that are completely made up. I usually read other people’s blogs because I’m looking for book recommendations – but why would I care if I know that your reviews are all made up anyway? I don’t know about you, but I just hope this is not going to be the new trend.

What do you think about bloggers charging authors for favourable reviews?