Archive for April, 2013

Showcase Sunday #43 and a Short Blogging Break

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, how are you all? I’ve had another busy and exhausting week. *yawns, stretches* I’ve been pretty much reading and working on uni assignments 24/7 and it’s not nearly over yet. Anyway… let’s see the books first!

Incoming

Showcase Sunday 43

Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye { for review }
A Life Apart by Mariapia Veladiano { for review }
You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett { gift }

*does a little happy dance* Well hello, new Sophia Bennett book! I don’t know if you guys remember but I read/reviewed her previous book (The Look) this time last year and I absolutely loved it. I had no idea a new book was about to be published but thanks to Jo at Once Upon a Bookcase, I do now. Long story short, I’ve been following Jo’s blog since she and three other panelists took part in a blogging related discussion at the London Book Fair earlier this month. A few weeks ago (or was it only last week?!) Jo featured Sophia’s new book in her weekly book haul post and not only did she make me realise there was a new book coming out shortly but she was lovely enough to send me her copy. Thanks so much, Jo! :) The other two books are unsolicited review copies from Quercus. Isn’t A Life Apart gorgeous, by the way? Me and my dad were pretty much drooling over the cover when it landed on our doorstep the other day. :D It’s definitely one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen lately. I’m not sure Three Strong Women will be my cup of tea but A Life Apart does sound rather interesting and I’ll definitely give it a try once my exams are over.

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Review: Like This, For Ever – S.J. Bolton

Like This, For Ever – S.J. Bolton

Title: Like This, For Ever (Lacey Flint #3)
Author: S.J. Bolton
Publication date: 11 April 2013
Publisher: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers)
Format: Ebook
ASIN: 9780593064153
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Netgalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Bright red. Like rose petals. Or rubies. Or balloons. Little red droplets.

Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach. There will be no clues for detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find. There will be no warning about who will be next. There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved … And no chance that she can stay away.

My thoughts

After reading and absolutely enjoying three (or four, if you count If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, a Lacey Flint short story) books by S.J. Bolton, I think it’s safe to say that no matter what she comes up with, I’m going to end up loving it. Needless to say, Like This, For Ever was a great read full of twists and turns, which kept me guessing right until the end.

Perhaps what I enjoyed the most about this book – apart from the obvious, i.e. trying to figure out what on earth is going on and who the murderer is – is the narration. Unlike the previous books in the series, most chapters in Like This, For Ever are narrated by an eleven-year-old boy (who happens to be Lacey’s neighbour) called Barney. Telling the story from a kid’s point of view can be quite tricky but Bolton pulls it off and both Barney’s and the adult characters’ narratives sound totally believable. (I’ve read a few books in which kids of Barney’s age sounded like adults and way too mature for their age, which eventually ruined the whole story for me – Like This, For Ever is definitely not like this.)

Is it the best book of the series, though? No, for me it wasn’t. What I was missing from this story is the creepiness and the ability to scare the living daylight out of you from the very first page, something which the first two books in the series were quite heavily relying on, something in which the author is brilliant at, and something which, despite the fact that they gave me a few sleepless nights, I absolutely loved. I’ve seriously never been as freaked out as when I was reading the previous two books. Like This, For Ever just didn’t have this effect on me for some reason. It might be down to the fact that a) I found this story a bit more predictable than the previous ones. While the first two books had me at a loss and I hadn’t the faintest idea who was guilty and who was innocent, I managed to recognise some of the red herrings quite soon in this one. Mind you, I still had no idea who the killer would be and it did surprise me when I read the last chapter – I would have never guessed. But I figured out who some of the innocent ones were (no matter how shifty their behaviour was) surprisingly fast. Or b) this book is centred around children and teenage boys, which obviously makes the whole issue a lot trickier (after all, you can’t have the same amount of brutality in a book about Jack the Ripper – one of the most notorious serial killers of all time – and one in which young boys are being murdered, unless you want to piss everyone off), I don’t know. All I know is that while I enjoyed the investigation part, loved Lacey and Mark’s subplot and once again, the killer’s identity took me by surprise, it just wasn’t haunting enough to keep me up till the crack of dawn as the previous books did.

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Blog Tour Review: Under the Jewelled Sky – Alison McQueen

Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen

Title: Under the Jewelled Sky
Author: Alison McQueen
Publication date: 25 April 2013
Publisher: Orion
Format: Trade paperback
ISBN: 9781409131182
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Synopsis

A love story for India, for a lost world and a boy from a forbidden world.

London 1957. In a bid to erase her past, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat society, old wounds begin to break open as Sophie is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja’s palace, the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two.

And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for. This is a tender story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.

My thoughts

Regular readers of the blog might know that it’s quite rare when I read and review historical fiction or books with a similar subject matter. I’ve never really been interested in this genre and on the rare occasion when I did pick up a historical novel, I never seemed to enjoy it as much as I should have. However, there was something about Under the Jewelled Sky (possibly the idea of love and loss and a past better forgotten) which really piqued my curiosity and I decided to read it. Never in a million years did I imagine falling in love with McQueen’s story as much and as quickly as I did.

Starting her story with a hint of a family drama and a dark past, the author introduces us to Sophie – a British girl who spent part of her childhood in India – and her mother who is visibly not too keen on seeing her daughter after so many years. We learn that it’s been quite a long time since the two of them saw each other and they clearly haven’t been in touch ever since. It takes a great deal of courage on Sophie’s part to make this visit, yet her mother couldn’t behave in a more rude and nasty way. When Sophie announces that she only came to tell her something, she refuses to listen. And Sophie leaves. Needless to say, it was only the first chapter but I was hooked already. What might have happened to cause such tension between the two women? What was Sophie about to say to her mother? I knew it would be related to some buried family secrets but the complexity of Sophie’s past and what they’ve all been through back in India not only took me completely by surprise but made me read the last 200 pages in literally one sitting.

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Showcase Sunday #42 – The London Edition

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.

Helloooo and welcome back! Today’s book haul is probably the biggest one I’m ever going to show you. I didn’t do a Showcase Sunday post last weekend due to the fact that I was on my way to the London Book Fair and since I knew I’d go book shopping while I’m in London, I figured I would wait another week and do one big haul instead. Which means that this week’s post is going to be massive. Apologies!

Incoming

Showcase Sunday #41

The Fall by Claire McGowan { won }
The Wish List by Jane Costello { for review }
Rhumba by Elaine Proctor { for review }
Lucky by Jackie Collins { won }
Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie { for review }

With the exception of The Wish List, which arrived while I was away, all of these books are from last week. The Fall and Lucky are both Twitter giveaway wins: the former is from the author herself (who even signed my book!) and the latter is from Books and the City. The other three pretty much turned up at my doorstep completely out of the blue but I know for certain that Close My Eyes is gonna be my cup of tea. I’m not entirely sure about Rhumba yet but I might give it a go once I’ve read my other review books. Thank you Claire, Books and the City, Quercus and Simon & Schuster!

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The London Book Fair 2013

Ohai, I’m back! *hugs laptop and grins* So, as you know, last Sunday I jetted off to London for an impromptu blogger meetup and to attend the London Book Fair. Many of you asked me to show you some pictures of my trip and tell you how it went and what the seminars were about, so… here goes. :)

Day 1

Celine and me

After a 30-minute delay at the airport, the most frightening landing I’ve ever experienced, a mad rush at Luton and a chaotic train journey to central London I arrive at St Pancras just after 3 p.m. I send a quick text to Celine (who I was sharing a hotel room with) to say I’m here, yet it takes me at least 10 minutes to find her at the station. Er… yes. By this time poor Celine had been waiting for me for at least two hours. Just for the record, Celine and I have never actually met before. And the first time we finally do, I make her wait ages. Embarrassing much?

Celine and I finally reunited, we make our way to our hotel. Or so we think. Three minutes after our first meeting each other, we draw the first conclusion of our trip: our sense of direction is beyond rubbish. The hotel is a relatively short, 8-10 minute walk away from the station. I checked Google Street View before I left and Celine has a map, yet we manage to get lost twice. But, despite the gusty wind, the weather is lovely and the sun is out so it’s all good. Even if we haven’t the faintest idea where we are.

After successfully finding our hotel in 30 minutes, we have a cuppa tea, manage to open the window together (we’re both short, skinny and weak, you see) and head off to Waterstones Piccadilly for a quick book shopping before closing time and to meet up with Faye and Ellie. At this point, we draw the second conclusion of our trip: all book bloggers seem to be short. I’m only 5’4″ but I seem to be the tallest among the four of us. Which doesn’t normally happen. Hurray! :D We quickly swap books (and chocolate) and decide to go to an Italian restaurant at Leicester Square for dinner. After dinner we meet up with Katie (who happens to be short as well!) and head off to Costa for coffee. By this time Celine and I (but especially me) must look embarrassingly zombie-like after all this getting up early and travelling malarkey, so belated apologies guys!

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Review: Under Your Skin – Sabine Durrant

Cover of Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant

Title: Under Your Skin
Author: Sabine Durrant
Publication date: April 11, 2013
Publisher: Mulholland Books (Hodder & Stoughton)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781444762396
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

This morning, I found a body.
Soon the police will arrest me for murder.
And after that my life will fall apart.

Gaby Mortimer is the woman who has it all. But everything changes when she finds a body on the common near her home. Because the evidence keeps leading back to her. And the police seem sure she’s guilty…

Under Your Skin is an unpredictable, exquisitely twisty story, which proves that there are only three rules in life that mean anything: assume nothing, believe no one, check everything.

My thoughts

Sabine Durrant’s Under Your Skin is – for me, at least – one of those books that is quite hard to talk about without ruining the story and giving away too much, but I’ll try my best to find a balance.

Compared to most of the books in this genre the novel started off quite slowly and it took me some time to fully settle into the story and get used to the writing style but once I did, I could barely put it down. Contrary to what I was initially expecting, it’s not your usual police procedural book and nor it is one of those race-against-the-clock thrillers where there’s a new victim every few chapters and more blood than you bargained for. Under Your Skin starts with our main character, a London TV riporter called Gaby Mortimer, finding a dead woman’s body near her home while she’s out running one morning. The book then follows Gaby’s life and lets us take a glimpse of how this incident has affected her life and how, hard as she might, her life will never be the same. As the police are trying to collect evidence and figure out what might have happened on that fateful night, Gaby suddenly realises that every piece of evidence is leading back to her. And gradually every little thing in her life is starting to fall apart.

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Showcase Sunday #41

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.

Hey guys! How are you? How was your week? God, I can’t believe it’s Sunday already. Where the heck did this week go? This week was reading week at uni (i.e. no classes until tomorrow) but since my grandpa has been taken into hospital again and my grandma is, again, staying with us, life’s been pretty hectic and nerve-racking in the past couple of days. In terms of books, however, these were the slowest two weeks ever. The good news is, I still have two lovely books to show you!

Incoming books

Showcase Sunday #41

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith { gift }
Misery by Stephen King { book swap }

While I haven’t read Jennifer E. Smith’s previous book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I’ve heard great things about it, and this one is supposed to be just as brilliant. I’m looking forward to reading it and many, many thanks to the Headline team and Tiff Lomas for sending me a copy! As for Misery, it sounds sick. Absolutely sick. But I’m always drawn to creepy stories, plus I’ve never read any Stephen King books so I thought I’d give it a try. Has anyone read it? Is it really as sick as it sounds?!

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