Archive for August, 2012

Review: Debutantes – Cora Harrison

Cover of Debutantes by Cora Harrison

Title: Debutantes
Author: Cora Harrison
Publication date: 2 August, 2012
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4472-0594-4
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

My thoughts

What caught my attention when I first heard about Debutantes was the fact that it’s supposed to be ‘the perfect read for Downton Abbey fans’. As a huge fan of this show I just knew I had to read this – and it blew me away.

At the risk of sounding terribly gushy, there was nothing I didn’t like about this book. The story centres around the four Derrington sisters who, a few chapters in, I became really fond of. I love the fact that they all have their own dreams, their own ambitions and they are all so different from each other. Violet is the beautiful, the energetic one; Rose is the youngest of them all and she’s the smart one, Poppy is a bit reserved, the one who doesn’t care for expensive dresses or meeting someone famous or rich. And there’s Daisy, who’s been living in the shadows of her sisters all her life and who’s always there to help them. I loved Poppy and Daisy’s relationship. They reminded me of Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – they are the ones (but especially Poppy) who would rather spend time with their friends and have a good time than spend their days looking for someone rich and marry for money.

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Review: Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family – Marian Keyes

Cover of Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family by Marian Keyes

Title: Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family
Author: Marian Keyes
Publication date: 27 August, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Ebook
ASIN: B008PS0I6K
Length: 67 pages
Genre: Women’s fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Synopsis

For all fans eagerly awaiting Marian Keyes’ new novel The Mystery of Mercy Close – featuring Helen Walsh and out in September 2012 – here is an irresistible ebook-only guide to everyone’s favourite dysfunctional Irish family, Mammy Walsh’s A–Z of the Walshes.

My thoughts

As a huge fan of both the Walsh family and Marian herself, Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family was a definite must-read for me. With The Mystery of Mercy Close‘s release day only a fortnight away, Mammy Walsh’s book is perfect for those who – just like myself – are anxiously waiting for Helen’s story.

With only 67 pages, the book is not a long read – it’s short enough for you to read in one sitting (curled up in bed, with a cup of tea in hand) after a long and exhausting day at work. It’s exactly what the synopsis says – it’s basically an A-Z list of things that are somehow relevant to the Walsh clan, including the five daughters’ relationship with alcohol, Mammy Walsh’s take on fake tan, cooking, eejit sticks (oh, how I wish they were real!), Helen’s shovel list, G-strings, real men and false goodbyes. Mammy Walsh -who, along with Mr Walsh, is one of my favourites from the previous Walsh family books – is such an entertaining character and I’m glad she finally has her own book.

It’s quite difficult to talk about it without giving too much away but trust me when I say it’s utterly hilarious. Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family had me roaring with laughter and reminded me of why I fell in love with Marian’s stories and all the craziness that goes on in the Walsh household all those years ago. Fans of women’s fiction, brace yourselves. Marian is back!

Teaser

There’s this woman I know from bridge, Mona Hopkins, a lovely woman she is, even if I must admit I’m not that keen on her myself, and she said a great thing the other day. I was expecting her to say “Two no trumps,” but instead she comes out with a saying about her children. She says, “Boys wreck your house and girls wreck your head.” Isn’t that a marvellous bit of wisdom – “Boys wreck your house and girls wreck your head!” And God knows it’s the truest thing I’ve heard in a long time. I should know. I have five girls. Five daughters. And let me tell you, my head is wrecked from them.Although, now that I think of it, so is my house . . .”


Rating:
5 star rating

Showcase Sunday #18

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

Just like August, Review Copy Cleanup is slowly coming to an end so I spent this week trying to catch up with reading some of my review books. I’m currently reading my 6th book (which is marvellous news because reading 6 books was my initial goal) but we still have almost an entire week left and I’m hoping to finish one more. Fingers crossed! All in all, it was a pretty quiet week but I managed to post two reviews – they are suitable for both the young adult and adult generation so do check them out if you’re looking for a new book. :)

♦ On Tuesday I reviewed Carnage by Maxime Chattam (5/5)
♦ And yesterday I posted my review of To Turn Full Circle by Linda Mitchelmore (4/5)

Incoming books (for review)

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Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
Lifesaving for Beginners by Ciara Geraghty
All the Little Animals by Walker Hamilton
The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

Aaaand here’s what I got this week! Lots of fantastic September/October releases I cannot wait to read! I wasn’t expecting them at all (except for All the Little Animals) but they all sound brilliant! Also, The Wolf Princess came all wrapped up in purple wrapping paper and when I opened it, there were a bunch of glittery purple/silver gems included with the book. How creative is that? And you can’t see it in the photo but actually the sides of the book are purple as well. Adore! Many thanks to Quercus, Hodder & Stoughton, Freight Books, and Chicken House for the review copies!

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Review: To Turn Full Circle – Linda Mitchelmore

Cover of To Turn Full Circle by Linda Mitchelmore

Title: To Turn Full Circle
Author: Linda Mitchelmore
Publication date:  7 June, 2012
Publisher: Choc Lit
Format: Ebook
ISBN: 9781906931728
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Historical fiction / Romance
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Life in Devon in 1909 is hard and unforgiving, especially for young Emma Le Goff, whose mother and brother die in curious circumstances, leaving her totally alone in the world. While she grieves, her callous landlord Reuben Jago claims her home and belongings. His son Seth is deeply attracted to Emma and sympathises with her desperate need to find out what really happened, but all his attempts to help only incur his father’s wrath.

When mysterious fisherman Matthew Caunter comes to Emma’s rescue, Seth is jealous at what he sees and seeks solace in another woman. However, he finds that forgetting Emma is not as easy as he hoped. Matthew is kind and charismatic, but handsome Seth is never far from Emma’s mind. Whatever twists and turns her life takes, it seems there is always something – or someone – missing. Can Seth persuade Emma that they can overcome their past?

My thoughts

Up until now, I haven’t really ventured into the world of historical fiction – I wasn’t really intrigued by these stories and I knew they wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But then I saw To Turn Full Circle and something changed. I genuinely liked the sound of this story, the story of a young girl with a difficult past, and decided that this novel would be a great way for me to branch out and to start my journey into unknown territory. And I have to say, it was definitely worth it.

What I loved about it the most is the fact that it appeals to such a wide audience. Based on the fact that the main character, Emma, is only 15 when the novel starts one would think it’s aimed at the young adult generation only. And how wrong I was in assuming this! To Turn Full Circle, I think, is definitely one of those books that all generations would enjoy – adult and young adult alike. There are no cheesy make-out sessions or anything else that would be too “offensive” for young readers and adults will no doubt find it a charming story.

Emma is a lovely narrator and main character and I really liked her. She’s still very young and naive at the beginning and she has a lot to learn but I loved the fact that she didn’t let go of her dreams and she was brave enough to stand up for herself. To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with good guys like Seth because I often find them almost “too good to be true”. I felt the same way about Seth but I really started to like him by the end. In a way he’s quite similar to Emma. They’ve both been through a lot but they do everything they can to forget the past and to achieve their dreams, to be happy. Matthew Caunter, however, was someone I loved from the start. He’s quite a mysterious and complex character who I hope to see more of in the sequel.

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Review: Carnage – Maxime Chattam

Cover of Carnage by Maxime Chattam

Title: Carnage
Author: Maxime Chattam
Publication date: 12 March, 2012
Publisher: Gallic Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1906040413
Length: 112 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

8.34am.
Fourteen people were dead.
Twenty-one were wounded, some permanently.
Hundreds would be scarred forever by what they had seen.
Outside, the world was waking up.
To start another day.

When Lieutenant Lamar Gallieneo of the 13th Precinct is called to the scene of a massacre at a high school in Harlem, he is faced with an apparently motiveless crime. But this is to be only the first school shooting…

My thoughts

What intrigued me the most about Maxime Chattam’s Carnage when I first saw this title on the publisher’s website was its length. With only 112 pages, it has to be the shortest thriller/mystery I’ve ever seen and read and I was really looking forward to seeing how the story would unfold in such a short time. I don’t normally read such short stories but Carnage was an exception – the synopsis sounded brilliant and as I love crime, I knew I had to read it. And I have to say, it was definitely a pleasant surprise!

Carnage is one of those books that can be read in one sitting, or on your way to and fro work if you’re a commuter. It’s fast paced, terribly gripping and it’s full of twist and turns which I didn’t see coming at all. In spite of its shortness, the story still feels complete. Every mystery is solved by the end, and there are no questions that remain unanswered. Lamar Gallieneo is a likeable character and even though the book’s length doesn’t allow much character development, you still can’t help being drawn to his story and hoping he’d come out of all this unharmed.

Filled with suspense from start to finish, Carnage is a quick, engaging read which fans of crime fiction are guaranteed to enjoy.

Teaser

The school resembled a stone monster on its knees, its arms spread out between islands of asphalt and patches of grass. The darkness had not yet lifted so that a yellow glow radiated from its entrails, pools of light showing through the rectangular wounds of its concrete skin. “


Rating:
5 star rating
*Many thanks to Gallic Books for sending me a copy of this book*

Showcase Sunday #17

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

This week was a little bit quiet because as I mentioned last week, Bout of Books 5.0 kicked off on Monday and I decided to take some time off and read two of my own books for a change. I was starting to feel quite overwhelmed by all the deadlines, review copies and blog tours and I needed some time off – and it did help! I finished In The Woods by Tana French the other day (you can read my review here) and it was fantastic! Then I re-read Marian Keyes’s Watermelon which is -of course- also brilliant so all in all, it was a great week. :)

Incoming books

Showcase Sunday #17
The Twitter Diaries by Georgie Thompson (won)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (won)

Once again, no purchased items on the list (I’m still trying to cut back on buying new books and finish my review copies first) which is great! But I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Twitter Diaries on -wait for it- Twitter, which sounds like an interesting read! Just like Pushing the Limits – everyone seems to love it and I’ve read so many fantastic reviews about it in the past few weeks that I can’t wait to read it. Many thanks to Bloomsbury and Mira Ink for the two books!

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Review: In The Woods – Tana French

Cover of In The Woods by Tana French

Title: In The Woods
Author: Tana French
Publication date: 20 November, 2007
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-340-92476-1
Length: 596 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

You’re twelve years old. It’s the summer holiday. You’re playing in the woods with your two best friends. Something happens. Something terrible. And the other two are never seen again.

Twenty years on, Rob Ryan – the child who came back – is a detective in the Dublin police force. He’s changed his name. No one knows about his past. Even he has no memory of what happened that day. Then a little girl’s body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. For him and his DI partner, Cassie, every lead comes with its own sinister undercurrents. The victim’s apparently normal family is hiding layers of secrets. Rob’s own private enquiries are taking a toll on his mind. And every trail leads inexorably back… into the woods.

My thoughts

WOW. It’s not often a book leaves me completely and utterly speechless but In The Woods by Irish novelist Tana French has just done that. Before I start, I must say a massive thank you to Marian Keyes for the recommendation and for brining Tana French’s work to my attention, and to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of this book – it was a truly brilliant read. I’ve loved crime fiction for quite a long time and I’ve read a tremendous amount of mysteries in the past but Tana French’s writing is nothing like I’ve ever come across before.

At the risk of sounding sloppy and terribly cliché, reading In The Woods was like eating my favourite chocolate. You know, your favourite chocolate you always save for last, the one you eat with your eyes closed and at a snail’s pace in order to savour every moment. I felt the same way about this book. I was hooked on page 1 and didn’t want to put it down – but at the same time, I wanted to take my time and draw it out as long as I could, enjoying every minute of it. I didn’t want it to end.

Rob Ryan is a brilliant narrator and protagonist and one of my favourite things about this book was his friendship with his partner, Cassie Maddox. I loved the fact that Cassie wasn’t a “girly girl”. She’s been through a lot and being on the Murder squad mustn’t have been easy for her but still, she was one of the toughest characters. The two of them were constantly bickering but they’ve always had each other’s back and they’ve always been there for each other when it really mattered.

I have to say, however, that In The Woods is not warm, upbeat story. It’s dark, it’s full of secrets, it has quite a haunting atmosphere and it doesn’t have a happy ending. Even though Rob Ryan’s past plays an important part in the book, there are things that remain unsolved and his past is never fully revealed – and it might not work for everyone. To be honest, I was a tiny bit disappointed by this at first, just like many other people. Rob comes so close to remembering what happened that night in the woods but then, all of a sudden it’s taken away and we’re left in the dark again. But you know what? I loved it all the same. The novel’s atmosphere and French’s eloquent writing style makes up for it.

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