Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sunday Stealing

Here's something for a bit of fun on a Sunday. Leave a link if you steal this too, so I can read your answers.

1. How far away is the last person you kissed? I have no idea, he's on the motorway somewhere on his way back from Weymouth.

2. Has someone ever told you they would be with you forever? Yes

3. Last person you were in a car with? My dad and my boyfriend

4. Any plans for tomorrow? Just a trip to the post office so far.

5. How long does it take for you to take a shower? We don't have a shower in our house, only a bath, and I stay in there for hours sometimes.

6. Best friend or close friends? Best friends

7. Is tomorrow going to be a good day? I hope so

8. Did you kiss anyone friday? Yes

9. Ever thrown up in public? Not since I was a little kid.

10. What's on your mind RIGHT NOW? I'm hungry, but there's no point cooking dinner until my boyfriend gets back.

11. Who was the last person you talked to? My boyfriend

12. What is the WORST subject they teach at school? P.E

13. Have you seen anyone lately that you don't get along with? Not for a couple of weeks.

14. What is your favourite colour top to wear? Red

15. Have you ever been in a car accident? Kind of, but it wasn't serious. My grandad drove us through a barrier!

16. What's the closest thing to you that's green? A pen

17. Where would you like to be right now? Nowhere special, I'm quite happy here for now.

18. Write down some lyrics to the song you're listening to? I'm not listening to a song.

19. How many dogs do you have? None

20. Is anything bugging you right now? Yes, see question 10!

21. Is life going right for you now? Yeah, but there's always room for improvement

22. Is there someone you care about more than yourself? Yes

23. What made you laugh today? The book I'm reading

24. What was the last movie you watched? I watched Happy Gilmore a few nights ago.

25. Whats the last conversation you had about? I sort of had a conversation with myself about how I wish my camera came with a mains cable so I didn't have to keep recharging batteries!

26. What were you doing at 7:00 this morning? Sleeping

27. Do you like your hair long or short? Long, but when it was short I didn't have to wash it as often.

28. Do you want to see somebody right now? Yes

29. Do you like the rain? If I'm indoors yes, if I'm outdoors no.

30. Did you have a valentine this year? No :(

31. The last person you kissed needs you at 3 am, would you go? Yes, he sleeps next to me so I wouldn't have to go far.

32. Would you honestly say you'd risk your life for someone else? Sure

33. Honestly, if you could go back 1 month and change something would you? Definitely, I'd love a time machine.

34. How do you feel about boys smoking? It's kind of gross, but also looks kind of sexy.

35. Could you see yourself with someone forever? Maybe.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Montmorency by Eleanor Updale

MontmorencyWho is Montmorency? Some say he's a dangerous villain. To others he's a hero. How do a terrible accident and an ambitious young doctor forge his two identities? And how long can he sustain them without getting caught?
My thoughts: When we first meet Montmorency he is in jail for a burglary that went wrong. He spends his jail time thinking up new money-making schemes, and eventually plans an elaborate double life for himself. As soon as he is released from prison he puts his new plan into action. He uses the sewers of London to make his way to and from burglaries at expensive properties. With the money he raises from the burglaries he funds his second identity as a gentleman who enjoys the finer things in life.

I really loved this story, mainly because I love reading about Victorian London. The author has done a great job of bringing Victorian London to life in this book. I really felt like I was right there in the middle of everything.

Montmorency was a bit of an unusual character, because of his double identity. I wasn't sure whether to love him, hate him, or both!

Really enjoyed this book and I hope to read the rest of the series too.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

New layout (again!)

I've been playing about with my layout. I got bored of the old one, I thought it was looking a bit cluttered, that's why I've gone back to two columns. Plus, purple is my favourite colour.
I've also added an 'about me' page.

I've been doing loads of reading over the last few days (although I really should be working on an essay!). I have quite a few reviews to write now. I'm still not sure that I've really found my 'voice' with my reviews yet. I also find that I tend to be really negative most of the time. Even when I enjoyed a book I still seem to only focus on the negative things. I would like to try and be more positive, but I don't just want my reviews to be "I loved this, I really enjoyed this, I want to marry this book, etc, etc..." I really need to find the balance in between positive and negative.

Anyway, I don't want to ramble on, besides, I have an essay to work on.

Mania by Craig Larsen

ManiaSynopsis: On the foggy streets of Seattle, a serial killer known as the Street Butcher is terrorising the city. Newspaper photographer Nick Wilder is accustomed to seeing gruesome homicide scenes. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick's brother his latest casualty, the case suddenly becomes very personal. Determined to find his brother's killer, Nick stumbles into a dizzying labyrinth of deceit and danger. As he digs deeper, Nick discovers his own past holds a key to unmasking a clever, diabolical psychopath. But the real motives behind the murders are as cold and stark as Seattle's winters - and much more blood will spill before Nick learns the horrifying truth.

My thoughts: The book kicks off with a murder, the protagonist, Nick witnesses his brother Sam getting murdered, but his memory is hazy. As the book goes on it jumps backwards and forwards a lot, this is confusing at first but it helps you to understand how Nick is feeling, because he keeps having these blackouts and flashbacks.

The author has done a great job of building up suspense and kept me wondering what was going on, but by about 200 pages in I had a pretty good idea of what the outcome was going to be. Once I got towards the end of the book it was obvious that my suspicions were right, but there was still one big surprise that I hadn’t expected.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for other fans of mystery/thrillers

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Sea GlassSynopsis from back cover: Student glass magician Opal Cowan's newfound skills to steal a magician's strength make her too powerful.

Kept under house arrest, Opal dares defy her imprisonment to search for Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man - now her prisoner - has switched souls with Ulrick.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain...
My thoughts: I enjoyed this book, although I did think it took a long time for anything exciting to happen. Opal seemed to spend a lot of time travelling or sitting around thinking and waiting to do something.

It was good to see Opal standing up for herself more than in the previous book (Storm Glass), but it’s obvious that she’s still quite unsure of herself and who she should trust.

I love that we get to see more of Janco in this book. He’s definitely one of my favourite characters. Unlike Kade, I really didn’t like him as much in this book, he just seemed so bland.

I found the Ulrick/Devlen thing a bit confusing, especially towards the end when they were both being referred to by name and I didn’t know which one was which. But, that’s what happens when people switch bodies.

The whole sea glass sub-plot thing was really weird. It was looking like it was going to be a major event and then it just fizzled out into nothing and I was like “what the hell was that all about?!” I assume it was the start of something that’s going to feature more in the next book, but it was so strange.

The ending of the book has some major twists, and I’m really looking forward to the next instalment. Can’t wait to see what happens to Opal next.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Decision Most Deadly by Mark Turnbull

Decision Most DeadlySynopsis: Sir Charles Berkeley comes from humble roots, but through a humiliating war with Scotland, he is able to make a name for himself and attract the patronage of the influential Earl of Holland.
Moving to London, his new marriage is soon interrupted by the spiralling events of the 1640's where the struggle between King and Parliament begins to escalate beyond any control.
He struggles to live in the hub of all this discord and during the overlooked, but pivotal year of 1641, he finds himself determined to remain above the fray.
Life will never be the same as the country lurches ever closer to civil war. Sir Charles agonizes over the decision that many of our ancestors would have grappled with - King or Parliament?
Very soon, Sir Charles is thrust into the dispute and is at the forefront of the crisis, experiencing the battle for power from both sides.
My thoughts: The story follows Sir Charles Berkeley as England is quickly heading towards Civil War. Sir Charles must make a tough choice, King or Parliament. He is being pulled each way as he is threatened and forced to participate in secret plots. But eventually he makes the decision for himself.
I loved the rivalry between Sir Charles and his enemy Sir Arthur Cotton, who kept showing up and causing problems.
I also thought that the conflict between Charles and his good friend James added an extra dimension and really showed how personal the decision between King and Parliament became.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I haven’t read anything set in this period before so I was learning new things along the way too. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves British historical fiction.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Serial Killers by Brian Innes

Serial KillersSynopsis: They are probably the most notorious and infamous of all multiple murders, yet these are the very same criminals that continue to fascinate us more than any other. Sometimes it is the sheer callous deliberation that seems to capture the public's attention; other times, the macabre double-life led by many such slaughterers. Although the phenomenon has probably existed throughout human history, it is only the advancement of modern police detection methods and psychological profiling, as explained throughout this book, that have identified the deadly category now known as serial killers.

From Jack the Ripper, Erszabet Batory, the countess vampire, and Big and Little Harpe to Ted Bundy, the Son of Sam and Jeffrey Dahmer, the whole era of the serial killer is unveiled here. These killers transfix us with an image of an apparently civilized society within which extremely intelligent and rational individuals can commit seemingly random, utterly savage acts of cruelty and depravity. It may well be the darkest side of human activity, but there can be little doubt that the killers listed and described in these pages remain horribly fascinating - sometimes enigmatic and inexplicable - but always terrifyingly gripping.
My thoughts: Remind me not to read books like this just before I go to bed. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night after having nightmares about murderers!
Some of the crimes made for very uncomfortable reading as there is quite a lot of grisly details. But I think it was the photos in this book that creeped me out the most, there is a photo of each serial killer, sometimes ordinary looking family snapshots. Just makes you realise how good some criminals are at acting 'normal'.

This was a good introductory book about serial killers. It contains details of their crimes and victims, how they were caught and what their punishment was. I already knew a lot of the facts about the most famous serial killers, having read books about them before, but this book also contains some less well-known murderers. After reading this there are now a few more murderers that I'd like to read more about.

One thing about this book that really annoyed me was that there were grey boxes scattered on the pages containing extra information, which wouldn't normally bother me, but they were always in really odd places and I found myself having to flick pages backwards and forwards to read things in a sensible order.

This book is a good starting point for learning about serial killers, but there are plenty of other books out there with more in-depth information.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

In My Mailbox #2

I've done quite well this week, most of the books I've got have been either swaps or second-hand purchases. The only one that I've bought new is The Complete Father Brown Stories.

The Complete Father Brown Stories (Wordsworth Classics) (Wordsworth Collection) Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton's kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths.
This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.

Just a Family AffairIn the Gloucestershire village of Honeycote, country life is anything but quiet. Maybe it's something to do with all that fresh air, but it's the kind of place where passions run high...The Liddiard family are well known in Honeycote - and now there is to be a big wedding. But will everything go according to plan? Lucy Liddiard knows her husband is no saint, but isn't prepared for his latest confession. Bride-to-be Mandy has no idea what joining the Liddiards really means. And local girl Mayday, wild child, rebel and free spirit, is thinking the unthinkable - with unimaginable consequences ...JUST A FAMILY AFFAIR is a glorious, all-consuming story about finding out the truth, finding a husband, or perhaps just finding yourself.

Cover Her Face (Adam Dalgliesh, #1)Sally Jupp seemed the ideal girl to help Mrs Maxie run a large house and look after her invalid husband. She was pretty, docile and grateful; or so it seemed, until murder shattered the tranquility of her new home. A puzzling, disturbing killing that brought Detective-Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh to the quiet village in search of the murderer.

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of a Childhood"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. "Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." Welcome, then, to the pinnacle of the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. Born in Brooklyn in 1930 to recent Irish immigrants Malachy and Angela McCourt, Frank grew up in Limerick after his parents returned to Ireland because of poor prospects in America. It turns out that prospects weren't so great back in the old country either--not with Malachy for a father. A chronically unemployed and nearly unemployable alcoholic, he appears to be the model on which many of our more insulting cliches about drunken Irish manhood are based. Mix in abject poverty and frequent death and illness and you have all the makings of a truly difficult early life. Fortunately, in McCourt's able hands it also has all the makings for a compelling memoir.

African Adventure (Knight Books)
One of Willard Price's adventure books featuring Hal and Roger Hunt. On safari in Africa, the pair find that the bogus Colonel Bigg is hindering their attempts to capture a man-eating tiger. Worse is to come in the shape of an evil witch-doctor, who is determined to kill the boys.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

How I Choose Books

When I go book shopping I always seem to come home with quite random selections of books. After thinking about how I shop I realised that I do actually have a process for buying books, although it might be quite strange. This is how my process goes:

The first step I take when buying books is to decide on what genre I’m looking for. This is because the larger bookstores usually have the books shelved according to genre. So I head to the relevant shelves. If the books aren’t organised by genre then I’ll just jump straight to step two.

Step two is to scan the shelves searching for authors that I recognise, either because I’ve already read books they’ve written or because I’ve heard them mentioned somewhere and liked the sound of their books.

If I don’t find any books by authors I recognise, or I want something different, then I glance at the colours of the book spines. Usually if I’m looking for a light & fluffy read I’ll lean towards the lighter pastel coloured spines, if I’m looking for a crime/mystery or horror book it’ll be the darker spines that get my attention.

The next, and probably most important, step is to read the titles. If one jumps out at me I’ll pull the book off the shelf for a closer look. Titles that I tend to steer away from are anything that sounds boring and anything that conjures up images of space, future and science fiction in general (because I really don‘t like science fiction!).

Once I pick a book off the shelf, chances are I’ll end up buying it. However, before I make the final commitment I always read the back cover. If the synopsis grabs my attention, it’s a keeper. But really, reading the synopsis is just a formality, I’ve subconsciously already decided to buy the book the moment I picked it off the shelf.

The very final step is to check the price! I refuse to pay over the odds for a book, anything over £5 I usually don’t bother. But seeing as I mostly shop in bargain bookstores and second-hand shops this isn’t really a problem.

I don’t tend to look at front covers of books; if I do it’s only to see the price sticker. I don’t know why I don’t look at the front cover in the shops because I do look at them when I get home, I guess I just don’t like to be influenced by a cover picture as they can sometimes be quite misleading about the book.

So how about anyone else? What makes you choose which books to take home?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Double Stitch by John Rolfe Gardiner

Double StitchSynopsis: In 1926, Rebecca and Linda Carey arrive at a progressive orphanage outside of Philadelphia. They're identical twins, ten years old, copper skinned and beautiful, with perfectly matched faces and manners that doom them to a mischief of switched identities. Drayton Orphanage is a wealthy campus of fairy-tale stone cottages and modern education, but these girls are unimpressed. They want to get as far away "as a dollar will send a post card." Implacably sharp-tongued, confident and aloof, they enthrall everyone at the orphanage but bridle under the attention, drawn only to each other.

While their guardians wage war with their own divided personalities, Becca and Linny battle for control of their twinned life. Locked in a paired world, they can't help themselves from switching names and clothes and tricking their teachers, house mothers, and peers. But when their black grandmother turns up unexpectedly, one twin imagines herself colored, the other white, and a painful rift grows between the two who had often before not known which one was which. When the apostate Freudian Otto Rank comes to Philadelphia and becomes interested in the twins, he and his prodigy (and lover) Anais Nin, see what no one else does - that the twins are becoming dangerous to each other: "We must all recognize the double who stalks us. Guilt is shifted to the shoulders of the double. Fear, too. In the end there may be paranoia, extreme mistrust. And if the other haunts relentlessly it must of course, in the end, be destroyed."

Far from blind to the threat they hold for each other, the twins live in a nightmare of broken mirrors. As they come of age, they choose to separate from each other as well as thestifling world of the Orphanage. But, when at age seventeen they finally do escape, one to China, the other to California, their lives, still parallel, turn horrific - their shared willfulness and naivete lead them to similar straits. Together and apart, each is caught in a struggle to survive the fate of the double.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The main characters are identical twins, Linny and Becca. They come to the orphanage when they’re 10 years old and the story is basically about them growing up and their struggles with their individual identities vs. their double identity.
Throughout the story the psychologists and the orphanage staff all believe that the twins could be a danger to each other if they stay too close together. But at the same time, their teachers don’t want to split them apart.
At one stage in the story, after finding out that their grandmother is coloured, Becca and Linny have a huge falling out. Becca believes she is black whereas Linny believes she is white. This conflict was really interesting and it affects the story again later on.
When they finish school the twins go their separate ways, Becca goes to China and Linny heads to San Francisco. This was the part of the story that I enjoyed the most I think. It was full of adventure and bad experiences for the twins, and even though they were so far apart they were still together in some way.

I loved this book. I have a slight obsession with identical twins anyway and I also love reading about psychology, so this book was perfect for me.
This book was a fascinating insight into identity struggles and the psychology of doubles. The story of the twins was amazing and I’ll definitely be reading this book again.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Lily Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed

Lily - QUICK READ (Quick Reads)I've reached 25 followers and to celebrate I'm holding a giveaway. You can win a copy of Lily by Adele Geras. All you have to do to enter is answer the question correctly *Hint* You'll find the answer in my review of the book here.

*The giveaway is open internationally*
*You don't have to be a follower to enter*
*Just answer the question correctly to be in with a chance of winning*
*Entries close at midnight on March 31st 2010*
*The winner will be notified by email after the closing date*

Monday, 1 March 2010

Monthly Round-Up - February 2010

February is such a short month, I hardly even noticed that it was over!

Books I reviewed in February:
1. The Moonlight by Joyce Cary
2. Diary of a Hapless Househusband by Sam Holden
3. DEAD(ish) by Naomi Kramer
4. Going With Gabriel by Bryan Islip
5. Some Kind of Hero by Donna Hay
6. Honeycote by Veronica Henry

My favourite book this month was Diary of a Hapless Househusband by Sam Holden.

What's coming in March?
  • I'm thinking of doing a giveaway.
  • I'm going to try to post more often.