Archive for February, 2013

Review Copy Cleanup 3.0 – Wrap-Up

Review Copy Cleanup 3.0

Hello everyone and happy (almost) March! Can you believe February is almost over?! It has gone by so quickly… Anyway, Celine, myself and 54 lovely bloggers spent the month of February with trying to make a dent in our review piles and reading as many review books we possibly could. I’m gutted that we have to say goodbye to this event already but it was great fun and I’m glad we were able to do this again.

My goal was to read at least 4 review books this month and I’m chuffed that I actually managed to read even more than that – I’ve read 5 books (1961 pages) in total – huzzah! I didn’t have too much time since I’m still working on my uni thesis so I’m glad – and quite surprised – that I managed to finish more than what I initially planned.

The books I managed to finish this month are:

Review Copy Cleanup 3.0 wrap up

All the Little Animals by Walker Hamilton { Goodreads | Review }
The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran { Goodreads | Matching nails }
Vortex by Julie Cross { Goodreads }
The Terrace by Maria Duffy { Goodreads }
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton { Goodreads | Review }

Thank you so much to everyone for joining us for the third time – I hope you managed to reach your goals and had just as much fun as we did. :) If you did a wrap up post, make sure to link up below so that we can all check it out and see how you did. (the linky is the same on both Celine’s and my blog) Big hugs! x

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Nail Your Books #4 – Green Leaf Nails

Nail Your Books at Books, Biscuits, and Tea

Hello and welcome back! Nail Your Books is a feature at The Princess of Storyland that Cristina created in order to show off some great book related nail ideas. They can be anything from a book inspired design to a matching nail varnish. Since I love nail varnishes and – as my Twitter followers know – I often create book cover inspired nail designs for myself, I decided to join this feature and bring them here to the blog to show you.

Today’s nails were “designed” for a book I was reading last week – Eleanor Moran’s The Last Time I Saw You. I absolutely loved both the book and its cover – I think the cover suits the story perfectly well and when I first saw those little green leaves I knew I had to try and incorporate them into a nail design. Well, here’s how it turned out:

Grean Leaf Nails

I was trying to pick a matching colour for the base coat but I realised none of my 60+ nail varnishes look remotely similar to what I wanted, so I ended up mixing three different colours. It’s actually a super quick and easy to do so if you’d like to give it a go, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Base coat (Nail Experts Gold Strength by Avon)
  • A purple/blue/grey-ish colour or any other colour of your choice (Cosmic Blue by Avon, Heavy Metallilac by Catrice, and Quick Dry Nail Colour 13 by Rival de Loop )
  • A lighter colour for the leaves (Sea Breeze by Avon)
  • Top coat (Ultra Gloss Nail Shine by Essence)
  • A thin brush or a toothpick

After starting off with a base coat to protect your nails, apply two coats of this purple/blue/grey-ish colour and let it dry.  Next, grab a thin brush, a small dotting tool or a toothpick, dip it into the light green varnish and paint some leaves and stripes on your nails (any random stripes will do). And that’s it. :D Let it dry and apply a fast drying top coat to protect your nails from chipping.

If you have any favourite book covers you’d like to see in nail art form, make sure to leave a comment with your suggestions above. :)

Review: Now You See Me – S.J. Bolton

Cover of Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

Title: Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1)
Author: S.J. Bolton
Publication date: June 13, 2011
Publisher: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780593064139
Length: 395 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Despite her life-long fascination with Jack the Ripper, young detective constable Lacey Flint has never worked a murder case or seen a corpse up close. Until now…

As she arrives at her car one evening, Lacey is horrified to find a woman slumped over the door. She has been brutally stabbed, and dies in Lacey’s arms. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey will stop at nothing to find this savage killer. But her big case will also be the start of a very personal nightmare.

When Lacey receives a familiar letter, written in blood, pre-fixed Dear Boss, and hand delivered, it is clear that a Ripper copycat is at large. And one who is fixated on Lacey herself. Can this inexperienced detective outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?

My thoughts

What made me interested in Now You See Me is, as morbid as it may sound, a fascination with serial killers on both the main character’s and my part. Since I’ve always been fascinated by these people myself, I was curious to see how Bolton would incorporate the Ripper myth into her story and how it would work in a twenty-first century novel.

The book certainly has a compelling set-up. The original Jack the Ripper, a sadistic serial killer known for his brutality and keeping London’s population in complete terror for several years, has never been found. So the idea of someone attempting to do the same (and get away with it) in an age where CCTV cameras are everywhere and the police force is a lot more resourceful than it was back in the nineteenth century made me prick up my ears. How does a criminal plan to get away with at least five murders when a) the police know every tiny detail about the original murders and probably have an idea what to look for in a similar case or what to expect from a copycat killer and b) modern technology and forensics make the police’s work considerably faster and easier, and the killers’ a lot more difficult. I had a feeling it was going to be a gripping read but I wasn’t fully prepared for what was yet to come. Saying that I enjoyed reading this book would be the understatement of the year. It’s been almost two weeks since I finished Now You See Me but thinking about it still sends shivers down my spine. I was  reading it for three days in a row and I literally couldn’t put it down.

I seriously can’t tell you one thing that’s missing from the book or anything I would have liked to be done differently. I loved this book for so many different reasons and while I know this review is going to be terribly long if I carry on like this, I’d like to highlight some of the things that stood out for me the most.

The first thing I need to emphasize here is that the book is extremely well researched and you can see how much work went into just looking up facts and theories about Jack the Ripper. One of the things I enjoyed the most is perhaps how much information there is about the original Whitechapel murders – through Lacey’s monologues Bolton gives us a very detailed picture of Jack himself (or herself, according to some theories) and all five of his victims, down to the tiniest detail.  And by doing so, not only did the author make the story more gripping but she made me want to find out even more about the Ripper and read some of these theories that are mentioned in the book (one of them being that Jack might have, in fact, been a woman), and do some research myself. I’ve never tried reading any true crime before but thanks to S.J. Bolton, now I will.

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Review: The Library of Unrequited Love – Sophie Divry

Cover of The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

Title: The Library of Unrequited Love
Author: Sophie Divry
Publication date: February 14, 2013
Publisher: Maclehose Press (Quercus)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-85705-141-7
Length: 91 pages
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

One morning a librarian finds a reader who has been locked in overnight. She begins to talk to him, a one-way conversation full of sharp insight and quiet outrage.

As she rails against snobbish senior colleagues, an ungrateful and ignorant public, the strictures of the Dewey Decimal System and the sinister expansionist conspiracies of the books themselves, two things shine through: her unrequited passion for a researcher named Martin, and an ardent and absolute love for the arts.

A delightful divertissement for the discerning bookworm…

My thoughts

Sophie Divry’s The Library of Unrequited Love is very a short story you can easily devour, from cover to cover, in one sitting. I’ll be totally honest here: it’s been a while since I finished reading it and I still don’t know what to make of this book. What I know for certain is that it’s unlike anything I’ve read before.

Firstly, the book doesn’t have any chapters or any kind of divisions at all. None. Nada. I know it’s a short book but if you don’t have enough time to read it in one sitting and you also happen to have a weird habit of reading to the end of a chapter before setting your book aside (like me), it might make you feel a bit uneasy. Another thing that was completely new for me is narration. It’s basically a one-way conversation between the librarian and a reader who has been locked in the library’s basement overnight.  We know nothing about the reader – not even his or her name or whether s/he’s a man or a woman. Everything we know comes from the librarian’s monologue, which is definitely one of the things that make this book unique and unlike any other. But again, I still wasn’t a hundred percent sure what to make of it. I love how we gradually get to know our narrator and what type of person she is and I found myself smirking (or occasionally nodding) at some of her remarks. Perhaps one of the things I loved the most about this book is how the narrator talks about reading and how she describes what it means to her. She says, “I prefer the company of books. When I’m reading, I’m never alone, I have a conversation with the book. It can be very intimate. Perhaps you know this feeling yourself? [...] When I’m reading, I can forget everything, sometimes I don’t even hear the phone.” And I’m sure it’s something all of us bookworms can agree with, something we all go through on a daily basis. At the same time, I would’ve liked to know a bit more about the reader and see what s/he makes of all this or how s/he reacts to some of our librarian’s observations.

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Review: All the Little Animals – Walker Hamilton

Cover of All the Little Animals by Walker Hamilton

Title: All the Little Animals
Author: Walker Hamilton
Publication date: September 17, 2012
Publisher: Freight Books
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9566135-6-1
Length: 144 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Adult / Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

A beguiling, unsettling and ultimately moving modern fable set on the byways of rural Cornwall; a story about running away, the search for acceptance and burying road-kill.

Bobby is a 31 year old man with the mind of a small, frightened boy. He has run away from his privileged but abusive London home to rural Cornwall. Through an accident of fate he meets Mr Summers, a man with a terrible secret who, in atonement, has dedicated his life to burying all the little animals. Together they embark on a bizarre mission, and a savage act of revenge.

My thoughts

With only 144 pages All the Little Animals is a relatively short read which can easily be read in just a few hours, and one which I, once I picked it up, didn’t want to put down. The book doesn’t have a complicated plot and is most definitely not a white-knuckle ride that will keep you guessing till the end but it doesn’t have to be one in order to be memorable. The appeal of this novel lies not with its complexity but with all those emotions that are packed into such a tiny book.

Bobby is a 31-year-old man who, as a result of being involved in a car accident in his childhood, is trapped in the body and mind of a young boy. Bobby lives with his mother, the owner of a local department store, until she marries a man Bobby calls ‘The Fat’ and her health begins to deteriorate due to an abusive marriage and eventually dies. He, then, is forced to live with ‘The Fat’ and put up with verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis. When ‘The Fat’ kills his last remaining friend – a mouse called Peter – he decides to leave. Somewhere along the way he meets Mr Summers, a mysterious  – and as it turns out rather peculiar – little man. According to Mr Summers, who detests everything about the world we live in today, his job is to find and bury all the little animals that were run over by cars or lorries. He says “people can bury each other but the animals have to be helped. Not just rabbits and rats, but all the little animals. Other men kill them and I bury them”. Soon this eccentric man becomes Bobby’s teacher, his guardian and only friend and the one who eventually helps him overcome his traumas, let go of his fears and become free.

As I said, the plot might not be a complicated one but Bobby’s personality and his friendship with Mr Summers definitely makes up for it. The simplicity and childlike innocence that characterises Bobby’s narrative is both charming and heart-warming. His relationship with the old man and the way he talks about him and their adventures brought tears to my eyes quite a few times and is something I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

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Showcase Sunday #36 – Bookish Business Cards and Crime Fiction Galore!

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.

Hello and welcome back! How’s everyone? How was your week? I’m sorry I’ve been MIA in the past few days (for the thousandth time this year) – the spring semester has just started so life’s just got even more hectic at uni. Anyway, thank you so much for all your messages and tweets about my grandpa last week, you’re all so lovely. He left the hospital about a week ago and is hopefully feeling a bit better now.

In other news, this week’s post pretty much turned into a crime fiction haul – I don’t know why but I’ve been reading even more thrillers and mysteries in the past few weeks than I usually do. Maybe it’s the fact that by the time I manage to curl up in bed and pick up a book I’m so tired I can’t really concentrate on anything else. Crime is always fast-paced and makes you want to keep reading which is definitely what I need right now. It’s a weird logic, I know. :D Anyway, here’s what I got this week.

Showcase Sunday #36

Birdman (Jack Caffery #1) by Mo Hayder
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Blindsighted (Grant County #1) by Karin Slaughter

I might have just found my favourite bookshop ever. I think it was Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm who tweeted something about Awesome Books a few weeks ago and that’s how I ended up flicking through their catalogue. Unlike The Book Depository, they don’t have free worldwide shipping but most of their books are so cheap that they’re still worth it.  All three books I ordered are second-hand ones but unlike last week’s batch, these three are in great condition. They were about £3 each so even though I still have millions of unread books (and I got to the point where I don’t even know where to put them), I couldn’t resist such a bargain.

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Review: Hysteria – Megan Miranda

Cover of Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Publication date: February 14, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Ebook
ASIN: B009IRLD5C
Length: 353 pages
Genre: Mystery
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Mallory’s life is falling apart. Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can’t remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear . . .

When Mallory’s parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There’s the hand that touches her shoulder when she’s drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory’s name is on their lips. Her past can be forgotten but it’s never gone. Can Mallory live with that?

My thoughts

I read Fracture, Megan Miranda’s debut this time last year and fell in love with her writing instantly. The plot was fast-paced, the characters relatable and there literally wasn’t one dull moment in the story. So when I first saw that the author had a new book coming out this year, I knew I was in for a treat.

If I had to pick one thing I love about Miranda’s books it would definitely be her ability to grab my attention right away, right at the very beginning. Three sentences in and I’m already hooked – and not everyone can do that. Her ability to create suspense and keep you in the dark until the very end is definitely one of the reasons why I enjoy her books so much and why I’ll keep reading them in the future. And this is exactly how I felt about Hysteria.

It was really creepy. I loved the fact that it’s impossible to tell whether what the main character goes through – the dead boy’s mum following her wherever she goes, a mysterious hand pressing down on her shoulder when she goes to sleep and the red fingerprints and bleeding blisters on her skin the next day –  is only her imagination or if it’s reality. I was prepared for the worst – when Mallory leaves for the boarding school and needs to spend her nights in a dorm room totally alone I was convinced someone would try to kill her. I kept thinking what on earth might have happened to make Mallory kill this guy and the way Miranda describes the terror she’s felt everyday since the murder is great. The way the author works with flashbacks and how Mallory’s past is embedded into the present story worked really well as well and I think it was perfect for the book.

My only problem with this novel is that I just can’t not compare it to the author’s previous book. While Miranda’s writing style is brilliant and equally captivating in both stories and I found her characters relatable and realistic in both of her books, I just didn’t find Hysteria as fast-paced as Fracture and when it all came to an end, it fell a bit flat for me. I think I  was waiting for a heart-pounding showdown or some huge, dark secret and when it didn’t happen, I felt a bit let down. Just a tiny bit. I kept thinking ‘that’s it?‘. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book. But if I had to pick between Fracture and this story, Fracture would win by a mile.

Having said that, did I enjoy the book? Immensely. Did the author manage to hold my attention and make me keep on reading? Absolutely. Will I pick up her next book? Without a doubt. Hysteria is a great story by a wonderfully talented author whose writing style is definitely one of my favourites among young adult novelists. If you like mysteries and young adult fiction (and the combination of the two), Miranda’s work is a good place to start.

Teaser

“My mother hid the knife block. In hindsight, that was the first sign. And then, two nights ago, she locked her bedroom door. It had to be subconscious, but still, I didn’t want to think too hard about what she was secretly thinking. I guess that was the second sign. And now there was a suitcase on my bed. Which wasn’t really a sign at all. It was the actual event.”


Rating:
4,5 stars
*Many thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book*