Archive for May, 2013

Review: The Wish List – Jane Costello

 The Wish List by Jane Costello

Title: The Wish List
Author: Jane Costello
Publication date: 11 April 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-85720-556-8
Length: 481 pages
Genre: Chick lit
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Synopsis

There are six months left of Emma Reiss’s twenties. . . and she has some unfinished business.

Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in simply never materialised. Moreover, she’s never jumped out of a plane, hasn’t met the man she’s going to marry, has never slept under the stars, or snogged anyone famous – just some of the aspirations on a list she and her friends compiled fifteen years ago.

So, as Emma hurtles towards her thirtieth birthday, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to achieve than she’d thought…

My thoughts

The first thing that came to my mind when I read the first few chapters is why on earth have I not read any of Jane Costello’s books before? After several cringe-worthily predictable and dull chick lit books I read in the past few months, I was starting to wonder whether I’d ever find one which is genuinely entertaining and impossible to put down. Well, considering the fact that it’s been four days since I finished reading the book and some of the jokes (Mr Matt Itchypants Taylor, to name my favourite one) still make me laugh, and the fact that it was so gripping that I just had to stay up until half past one in the morning two nights in a row, I guess we can say The Wish List ticks both these boxes.

Possibly the main reasons why I loved this book so much is the main character’s personality. I just loved Emma. If I had to describe her, I would say she’s a bit like Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, two characters I absolutely adore, by the way. She’s just as clumsy as Bridget and just as sarcastic and funny as Becky, the combination of which makes for a brilliant and entertaining story. Another thing that makes it as good as it is is the fact that Emma’s friends are so relatable and well-written. They’re not shallow or two-dimensional at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s not just about Emma either. They all have their own little sub-plots within the story and you actually do feel for them and want them to succeed and be happy. Or at least that’s how I felt, especially about Asha.

And if being hilarious and making me laugh out loud God knows how many times throughout the story wasn’t enough, I should also add what both Hannah and myself found great about the book: short chapters. Oh, how I love them. I’m quite a slow reader so long chapters always make me feel as if I’m not making any progress. Short ones, however, result in me not being able to put the book down and staying up until the crack of dawn with a stupid grin on my face, congratulating myself for reading so much. Big thumbs up for short chapters!

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Nail Your Books #5 – Butterfly 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.

Oh, how I missed doing these posts! It’s been a while since I attempted to do a book cover inspired manicure – mostly because I’ve been terribly busy lately – but I came across a beautiful cover recently and I knew I’d have to try and do a matching manicure. Today’s nails were inspired by A Life Apart, a contemporary novel written by an Italian writer, Mariapia Veladiano. Since I’ve always found butterfly nails stunning and looking at all those pictures on Pinterest made me want to try them, and since there is a gorgeous butterfly on the book cover, I knew what this week’s design would be. Well, here’s the result. (click on the pictures to enlarge)

Butterfly nails 1 Butterfly Nails 2

I used:

  • A base coat (Nail Experts Gold Strength by Avon)
  • One coat of purple nail polish (Heavy Metallilac by Catrice)
  • Black nail varnish for the stripes (Fatal Black by Miss Sporty)
  • White nail striper for the dots (Oriflame)
  • Top coat (Ultra Gloss Nail Shine by Essence)

If you’d like to recreate this look, you’ll find a pretty easy and straightforward tutorial here and here.

What do you think? Would you wear something like this? Have you tried this design before?
Also, if you have any favourite book covers you’d like to see in manicure form, make sure to let me know in the comments below. :)

Showcase Sunday #45

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.

Hi guys! How are you all? :) It’s been another hectic week here: I spent ages trying to track down some of my instructors at uni, get my grade book signed and submit a gazillion papers without which you’re not allowed to take the final exams. So loads of boring stuff really. The good news is, I did manage to submit them so all I need to do now is take those exams and I’m free. Hurray! The bad news is, I’ll spend next week studying like crazy so I might be a bit slow at replying to your comments. I already scheduled a two posts for the next couple of days so I won’t abandon you, I promise, I’m just trying to prioritize. Anyway, I have another huge pile of books to show you so… here we go!

Incoming books

Showcase Sunday 45

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver { book swap }
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie { book swap }
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie { purchased }
The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen { purchased }
The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen { purchased }
Every Promise by Andrea Bajani { for review}

Remember those birthday books I mentioned last week? Yep. They’re finally here! I’m so excited about the Tess Gerritsen ones! I bought The Surgeon, the first book in the series when I was in London last month and after reading the first 50 pages, I’m convinced I’m going to love this series. My God, it’s so scary. I also managed to add two more items to my ever growing Agatha Christie collection, which now consists of 31 books (out of 82). We’ll get there, we’ll get there. *pats arm reassuringly* I also got an unsolicited review copy from Quercus – thank you!

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Review: A Life Apart – Mariapia Veladiano

A Life Apart - Mariapia Veladiano

Title: A Life Apart
Author: Mariapia Veladiano
Publication date: 16 May 2013
Publisher: Maclehose Press (Quercus)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-85705-233-9
Length: 186 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Rebecca’s parents were born to very different families. One wealthy, one all but destitute, they were united only by their striking mutual beauty. But the sole child to bless their great romantic fairy tale is a daughter of startling ugliness.

The shock of having given birth to such a monster leads the mother to withdraw both herself and her daughter from the world. Only by keeping her child indoors, away from strangers’ eyes, can she protect her from their disgust.

But against all odds, with a little help from some remarkable friends, Rebecca discovers a talent for music that proves that inner beauty can outshine any other.

My thoughts

I haven’t really had the chance to read a great amount of translated fiction before so A Life Apart was definitely unique in this respect, and a bit different from the books I normally read. But since there was something in the synopsis which really intrigued me and because I tend to like emotional stories in which the main character tries to overcome some traumatic incident in his or her life (and because the cover is so breathtakingly gorgeous), I decided to pick it up and give it a try. And while in hindsight I wasn’t particularly keen on the language and narration itself, Rebecca’s personality and her story, her journey towards accepting her looks and living a relatively normal life definitely made up for it.

What surprised me the most is the fact that the novel has quite a few magical elements in it and despite my initial expectations, it’s not an everyday story. As it turns out, Rebecca’s mother’s family has carried a taint for several generations. A minor taint which is supposed to leave your mind, your beauty and your life untouched, but a taint all the same. Now and again an unfortunate child would be born with six or seven fingers on each hand, leaving the family with no other options but to hide them from the prying eyes of their neighbours and everyone else. Hoping to escape this misfortune, Rebecca’s mother marries a handsome young man whose entire generation has been untouched by it. However, when Rebecca is born, they immediately realise that something is very wrong… for despite the father’s impeccable past and the two parents’ beauty, the baby turns out to be a freak of nature. After Rebecca is born, a heavy silence falls on the family home. Literally. She is hidden away from the outside world, is not allowed to attend nursery school or leave the house before sundown and her mother stops talking to them altogether. Not only does she refuse talking to her own husband, she never once sets eyes on her daughter. And this is where Rebecca’s journey starts: in a place devoid of any kind of parental love or affection, where she’s a prisoner in her own home.

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Showcase Sunday #44

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 everyone! Guess what – I’m back! :) I don’t know whether you remember all those family/university related things that I mentioned a few weeks ago and which made my life pretty hectic lately. Well, the good news is, I’m graduating in 2 weeks’ time so things are finally starting to calm down a bit. I still have my two final exams left (28 May and 4 June) so I might be a bit slow at responding to your comments and stuff, but I’m here and I’m ready to get down to business. Huzzah!

Since I didn’t do a book haul post in the past two weeks, I think, I have quite a lot of stuff to show you. Ready? Here we go.

For review

Showcase Sunday 44 - review books

Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna {read my review here}
The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

Both of these books were unsolicited review copies I received about two weeks ago. You may remember that I actually read and reviewed Come to the Edge last summer when it first came out in hardback and I absolutely loved it. It’s been one of my favourite books ever since and it still cracks me up. The paperback edition you can see here was published last week and – here comes the best bit – not only does it have a strikingly red cover, its edges are red too! Anyway, it’s a brilliant book so make sure to pick it up if you haven’t read it yet. I haven’t had time to read The Longest Holiday yet but I’ve heard great things about it on Twitter so I hope it’s a good one. Thank you, Quercus and Simon & Schuster!

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Richard and Judy Book Club Reading Challenge – Summer 2013

Richard and Judy Book Club Reading Challenge – Summer 2013

Hi guys, I’m back! Hurray! *insert cheerful confetti-throwing here* And not only am I back but I have a brand new reading challenge for you. One of my bookish New Year’s resolutions, which I don’t think I’ve shared with you here on the blog, was to try and step out of my comfort zone and read books and genres which I don’t know much about or ones I haven’t really tried before. And I think this challenge would be perfect for this purpose. I’ve been thinking about hosting this event for months but with travelling, writing my dissertation and preparing for exams, I’ve never really had enough time to actually do it. But since – apart from my two final exams at the end of this month – things are finally starting to calm down a bit and since so many of you loved the idea when I mentioned it on Twitter, I decided to go ahead and make it an official reading challenge.

What is it about?

The aim of this challenge is to read all ten books from Richard and Judy’s list of summer book club titles between 1 June and 31 August. (If you’re not from the UK and/or haven’t heard of Richard and Judy, you’ll find more information here) The books on the list are:

Richard and Judy Book Club Summer 2013

Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussmann
The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
Close My Eyes – Sophie McKenzie
This is How It Ends – Kathleen MacMahon
Natural Causes – James Oswald
The Light Between Oceans – M. L. Stedman
The Sea Change – Joanna Rossiter
The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky – Simon Mawer
The Sea Sisters – Lucy Clarke

Guidelines

  • The challenge, as mentioned above, runs from 1 June to 31 August, 2013.
  • You don’t have to be a blogger in order to sign up, anyone can join us. The more the merrier! :)
  • To make it as much of a low-pressure event as possible, you can read the books in any order you like and as fast or slow as you can, it’s all up to you. There won’t be any challenges to complete, it’s all about reading, having fun and interacting with other readers. Which brings me to my next point.
  • If you’re on Twitter, make sure to use the #richardandjudy hashtag whenever you post something related to the challenge or the books on the list so that we can all see what you’re up to, discuss what everyone thinks of certain books and encourage each other. If you want to follow or join the discussion, you can go to our Richard and Judy chat room at http://tweetchat.com/room/richardandjudy
  • There will be a monthly wrap-up post at the end of June, July and August here on the blog where you can discuss the books and post a link to all your reviews.

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