Saturday 26 November 2016

Blind Date with a book

So I had a look about online to see what book delivery boxes are available as my book saving jar (you put £1 in a jar for every book you read from Jan 1st to December 31st) will be up next month. There are many sites and offers out there but some of them are pretty pricey. I recently found one, on Etsy and Facebook, that offers you one book, a drink of your choice, a wee charm, a tea light candle and some sweets. It is ridiculously good value, under £10 (UK, for International postage is more expensive) for all of that and that is including postage. You can pick your style (genre) and the drink of your choice from your Etsy drop down menu, click here to go straight to the Etsy site. Here is the Facebook link, click here if you love postage, surprise book post (it is a blind date!) and wee extra goodies guys this is honestly the best.

So, as with most people, you are always a bit suspect when ordering things online and small new businesses. I could not be more happy with my delivery. Lets have a wee look at mine, also please remember it is ONE book with your box, I got two in mine however the normal will be you get one book as listed.

So it came wrapped in brown paper, then wrapped in black tissue with a wee gold heart. The book itself is wrapped in brown paper and the sweeties also wrapped in purple tissue :D black and purple, my fave colours, by chance not request!

Inside I had my wee hot chocolate and a wee mini milk, sweeties as you can see below in the pictures and an adorable wee owl charm that I am going to turn into a hanging bookmark I think.

I cannot recommend this enough guys, I will post when my next one comes, I am going to order it tonight. I may even get a few for Christmas presents for my fellow book geeks. Some books are brand new, some are used, you won't know which book it is until it arrives so it could be one you have read before, it is a blind date. I was delighted that I haven't read mine but even if I had (I have 5 bookcases and 300+ books on my kindle so it was a possibility) I wouldn't have minded. For the price you really can't complain and I don't mind re reading a book, I have re read a fair few in my time and whilst I give lots away & do comps, I think as my first ever box I will be keeping both! Lets support small businesses and spoil ourselves with a little indulgence. Oh and if you order, please leave a review and like the Facebook page and word of mouth is what supports and keeps these wee businesses going!

And if all of that wasn't enough, the string that comes with the box and on my wee book has been providing hours of fun for Princess, she will be 16 in January, doesn't keep in great health and I haven't seen her this playful in ages. So a wee additional extra for the kitty, delighted.

Jodi Picoult Book Launch Small Great Things

You can read my review for Small Great Things here, I was very lucky to get an ARC copy from Netgalley.

Last night me & my beautiful friends and friends eldest daughter went along to the Kelvin Grove Art gallery & museum for the book tour Small Great Things. How stunning is the inside of the gallery! Tickets were £20 which I know some people think is quite steep for a book event however this included a signed hardback copy of the new book and Picoult is a fabulous speaker. Not only that the poor lamb had laryngitis and kept going like a trooper!

You can read the review for the book as above however I just want to reiterate that this is a book that will stay with you, racism, injustice and it will make you question yourself too. Last night someone asked her how she felt about the timing of the book what with everything that is happening in America just now. Her answer gave me goosebumps, she said this book is 200 years in coming, it addresses issues that even now are often skirted around. 2016 and racism is still an ugly but very real issue, more so or certainly more in the public eye with Trumps election, Jodie answered with class and honestly she is just such a classy woman with such a great attitude.

The book cover is not like the one posted on Goodreads and linked on my review, it is beautiful and I know I am not normally one to comment much on covers. The front Is black and white striped with a mild texture to it, the writing is a gold/orange shimer as is the spine cover. I was planning on giving the book away as a competition prize but I may just hold on to it, see the pictures below and Princess Trixie is of course in the picture too!.

If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Picoult speak and back and fro over going, seriously guys go. It is a great night, really worth it and we all enjoyed it. You come away with a great book and thinking a little bit differently!

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Penance by Theresa Talbot

PenancePenance by Theresa Talbot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 315

Publisher - Strident

Blurb from Goodreads

TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O'Neil faces danger and chaos when an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. His death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution.
The Church has already tried to suppress the story. Is someone covering their tracks?
What secrets lie behind the derelict Institution's doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed t? And what happened to the three 'Maggies' who vowed to stay forever friends?

My Review

We open in Glasgow 1958 to a chilling scene in a Magdalene institution, the next chapter flips to present day, the year 2000 and a priest dies on the altar. We are swiftly introduced to Oonagh O'Neil, a TV journalist and favorite with the people who is doing a tv piece on the Magdalene Institution with the help of her friend and younger priest Tom Findlay. Oonagh has relationship issues, particularly her boyfriend being a married man, Tom is having a crisis with his faith and the priest who died on the alter's death may not be as it first appeared.

Oooh this is a busy wee book, the scenes that briefly visit the Magdalene institution are quite upsetting and disturbing. I think mostly because we know, whilst this is a fiction book that these places existed and the thought of these poor women being exploited, beaten and used is heartbreaking. In current events, the younger priest is having faith issues which may not sit well with some readers of a religion background. The issue of infidelity and extramarital sex may also prickle with some audiences, however all that aside we have some other hot topics. Murders, lies, violence, blackmail, extortion and secrets are just some of the themes covered in this story.

A strong debut, (Talbot has written another book although that is non fiction), a page turner and an opening chapter that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing. This is my first time reading this author, I would certainly read more of her work if and when she brings out another. 4/5 for me this time, Penance is available to buy from all good retailers, go check it out.

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Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Good Me, Bad MeGood Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads

'NEW N A M E .
S H I N Y.
ME . '

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

My Review

Annie changed everything when she went to the police, her mother has since been arrested for the murder of nine children. Annie is placed with a new foster family, her name is now Milly and Milly is trying to be good, Milly's mother talks to her (in her head) and the badness tries to creep up. Good Me, Bad Me is about a young girl who is struggling to come to terms with all the abuse she endured at the hands of her mother, all she has seen and all she has done. Milly wants to be a good person, she really does but she can't get her mother out of her head, her new foster sister is a spoiled evil brat and the foster parents have their own issues to deal with.

This book hints at quite a lot, we know poor Milly has been abused by her mother although not the full extent, as we read further more details emerge. Milly has been forced to participate in her mothers "games" again a lot is hinted as but the book doesn't go into depth on details which some readers will find refreshing. As a teenager and still legally a child, Milly is placed with a foster family and we see her have an internal battle trying to be a new and better person whilst having the effects of all she has endured with her mother.

Some of the book makes for very uncomfortable reading, the bullying from the foster sister is horrible, the atrocities and hate campaign launched against poor Milly is horrendous leaving the reader, well it did me, very angry and frustrated. You are rooting for Milly along the way and hoping someone catches on to what is happening to her, she seems to fall victim to so many situations yet stoically powers on. This book is being tipped as one of the biggest for 2017, whilst I enjoyed it and found it to be engaging I was frustrated at quite a few points and angered at the seniors and authorities. 3/5 for me this time, I voluntarily reviewed this for Netgalley, Good ME Bad Me is available to buy January 2017.

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Tuesday 15 November 2016

Adventures In Human Being by Gavin Francis

Adventures in Human Being (Wellcome)Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 6 days on and off

Pages - 252

Publisher - Profile Books Limited

Blurb from Goodreads

We have a lifetime's association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory. In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the reader on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot. Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends first-hand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practice medicine is to explore new territory. Francis leads the reader on an adventure through what it means to be human. Both a user's guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this book will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.

My Review

I saw this book at the airport and was drawn to the cover, it isn't often I comment on covers but this one pulled me over. The human skeleton with words of body parts etched into the visible parts of the body. Doctor Francis takes us on a trip through the human body, given insights into different parts of the anatomy, workings within the body and to keep it interesting he gives some stories about patients past.

I do enjoy a book where you learn something as you go along, I also like to read about real life human experiences. The human body is an amazing vessel, intricate workings and even when one part fails to work at optimal, the body still continues and compensates, obviously within reason, if your head is removed it is game over.

The only thing I would say is there were a lot of things that people would need to google and in some parts he went off on a tangent or brought in things I didn't feel were always relevant to the section I was reading. I would have loved more of the personal stories and maybe some more laymen terms however overall an engaging read where you can learn a few things about the fabulous human body. 4/5 for me this time, this author does have other works available that I will at some point track down, I won't be rushing out to get the back catalog just yet though.

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Monday 14 November 2016

Second Look by Connie Stephany

Second Look (New Beginnings, #2)Second Look by Connie Stephany
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 248

Blurb from Goodreads

Adam Jackson is not proud of his string of bad decisions. Cheating on his girlfriend, irrevocably hurting the woman he loved since high school and dumping his fiancée on their wedding day are just the tip of the iceberg. When an unspeakable tragedy pushes him to take a hard look at his life, Adam says goodbye to the no-strings hookups and begins to make amends with the women he hurt in the past. The only problem is the woman he wants to find the most has disappeared off the face of the earth.

Jennifer Sylvester has only loved one man in her life, but she’s made one mistake after another with him. She hasn’t seen him in four years and she’s determined to make sure their paths never cross again. When Jennifer is offered her dream job back home in Minnesota, she’s unable to turn it down. She packs up her daughter and moves back home, hoping she’s able to stay hidden from the man who still holds her heart.

When Adam and Jennifer finally reunite, old sparks begin to fly. But can Adam break down the walls Jennifer has spent so long building up? And more importantly, is Jennifer brave enough to ask Adam for something that could once again tear them apart?

My Review

Second Look revisits some of the characters from the first book Second Chances, Adam had left his bride to be and the book concentrated on that. Now in book two, we get to really meet Adam, his life now and some throwback to what happened to make him leave his bride to be in the first book. Jennifer is back, the woman who turned his world upside down in book one, his old flame and bringing with her her daughter. When tragedy strikes, Adam reevaluates his life, his casual love them and leave them attitude and how things ended with Jennifer. For Jennifer, she has never quite got over Adam and being this close to him isn't easy, she cannot allow herself to get caught up with him again and risk having her heart broken again. Her daughter is her main concern not what her heart is telling her, will Jennifer listen to her head or follow her heart?

I would absolutely recommend reading book one guys, you get a better feel for the character and it is always good to know the background history. The timeline splits between current events and every now and again flips back to the past to give some more insight into the Adam & Jennifer dating period. The chapters are well marked so you can follow the time sequence easily and differentiate between the duo timeline.

There are a lot of emotional aspects within the tale, grief, loss, personal growth, family, cause and effect. It was interesting to learn more about the characters of Adam and Jennifer which gives a bit more insight into what happened in the first story. I wasn't as captivated by the tale as I was the first book, I think because being jilted at the alter is on a very different scale to the in depth story examination of relationships & personal growth. There was a bit of the story with a spikey character that I thought was going to go in a very different direction and create havoc and lots of drama, however it petered out leaving me feeling it was a tad unfinished, for that character. The author creates a scope of characters that holds your interest and leaves you wanting to read more about them and see where their future heads. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again and I believe there may be more to come in the New Beginnings series. I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book, all views as always are my own.

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Sunday 13 November 2016

Zom-B by Darren Shan

Zom-B (Zom-B, #1)Zom-B by Darren Shan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 217

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb from Goodreads

Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, "It's a big, sprawling, vicious tale...a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!"

My Review

This is the first book in a zombie series, we open with B our main character, a teenager who is still at school when the first stirrings of a zombie outbreak starts. No one really believes it and thinks the videos & news are mock ups. We follow B through relatively mundane happenings, until over 100 pages in we finally get our first glimpse of the undead.

So, for me this was a bit more like Fear The Walking Dead rather than The Walking Dead, heavily focused on the pre and build up to the actual onslaught. B is not a likable main character, a lot of time is spent being a bully or just horrible selfish behaviour to assessing the behviour and not wanting to be like her very racist father. There are scenes of bullying, racism, violence and when the zombies finally show up, some gore. There are also some black and white illustration artwork scattered throughout the book which makes for a nice wee change I thought.

There is a lot focus on self exploration of B's attitude, family values (that of white extremist attitude of the father), pack mentality in schools and survival mode. There are quite a few books in this series, I have already bought them so will be reading them. I would advise this may not be for the die hard zombie fans as it is a slow burner and not quite as much focus on the outbreak and zombies as it is on the characters however it is still a decent read, 3/5 for me.

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Friday 4 November 2016

Zoo by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

ZooZoo by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 395

Publisher - Century

Blurb from Goodreads

All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities. Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the impending violence becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide.

My Review

Animals all over the world are exhibiting increasingly aggressive and new hunting patterns of behavior. Jackson Oz is a young biologist who has been ridiculed and discredited in his field for some of his outlandish claims, so much so he left his course. Now it looks like Oz may be the one person who can help understand what is happening with the animals but will he be listened to before it is too late?

Ooooh I really quite liked this book although it seems a bit hit and miss with some of the readers. As with all of Patterson's books the chapters as small which helps you get through it quickly or dip in and out if you are busy.

As humans we have take a lot for granted, we abuse our positions of power, animals are often abused, murdered and dis guarded so when do we reap what we sow? In Zoo, animals are reacting and rising up against humans and we find ourselves no longer at the top of the food chain. Sadly with the theme of the book animals are harmed which may make for uncomfortable reading, there are human deaths also again some scenes may be disturbing for some readers.

I like that the book examines not only animal behavior patterns but also human patterns, how we react in life and death situations and how we pull apart or together in the face of danger. I would love to see a follow up to this book, 4/5 for me this time.

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November's competition is now open

Drum roll please ..................... this month, I am giving away a brand new wee Disney totebag featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet as pictured below.

As always, the competition will run until the end of the month, enter using the Rafflecopter below, the more entries you complete the more times you name goes into the draw. Open worldwide, as always thanks for stopping by, sharing the reviews, links, commenting and recommending great books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterAbraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days on and off

Pages - 336

Publisher - Corsair

Blurb from Goodreads

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

My Review

We all know who Abraham Lincoln is but what we didn't know was he was also a vampire hunter! When Abraham's mother dies and he finds out the real reason, he sets on a path of murder and retribution, Abraham Lincoln will kill all the vampires!

If you don't mind books like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies then you should get on just fine with this. Abraham has a diary where he catalogs his interactions with people and his hunts for vampires, the book also follows regular transcript of telling of the story in third person narration. I think some people may have issue with some of Lincolns achievements and reasoning for abolishing slavery in the book as well as the drive for his political career.

Otherwise, if you just read it as is, a cheesy, silly, not to be taken seriously story with an important historical figure mixed in with some vampires you will find it ok. The writing is a bit boxy and in parts I was a little bored however it has made me want to go read more about the real Abraham Lincoln and his life. The author acknowledges Wikipedia as one of his sources for research which in itself says something! It is certainly different and counted as one of my Halloween reads, would I read this author again? Sure however I wouldn't be rushing out to buy their work, 3/5 for me.

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