Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Book Review | The Hunger Games Trilogy

As a general rule, I don't read much YA fiction and I never really did. I was basically 14 going on 40 as a kid and felt like I couldn't relate to stories dealing with drugs, alcohol and teen romances. I was too much of a square! But finally, at the grand age of 24, I read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins after falling in love with the films and spotting the books in my hospital's little charity shop. 

the hunger games trilogy book review, the hunger games, suzanne collins, young adult fiction, dystopian future fiction,

A Song For Tomorrow

I've  been meaning to review A Song For Tomorrow by Alice Peterson for a little while now but while I hate to sound wanky I just couldn't because it all felt kind of raw. I'll start off by saying that it's based on the life of Alice Martineau, a singer who happened to have cystic fibrosis which is why I felt such a personal connection to the book. However it's also a bloody good read, maybe not my usual thing but I bought it on the day of release and practically devoured it.

It's been compared to The Fault In Our Stars and Me Before You but whilst the characters in that are annoying af Alice is not. I remember watching a documentary on her as a kid and I just thought she was so cool - wickedly funny and talented and I'm not just saying that either (I mean if she wasn't that fab a book wouldn't have been written about her no?) The book follows her journey as she tries to make it in the music biz and meets a lovely new fella Tom around the same time CF decides to be a major dick and she is placed on the list for a double lung transplant.

One thing I really appreciate about the book is that you can tell how closely the author worked with Alice's loved ones and also the CF Trust. I obviously can't speak for everyone but personally I thought it was the most accurate depiction of CF I've ever read by someone who doesn't actually have it. Not everyone gets it right (Bates Motel, Grey's Anatomy, Holby City I'm looking at you) but I think Peterson got it so right when she describes not just the physical effects but the emotional too. I related so much to Alice's worries about relationships, what other people think, holding others back and most crucially, not having enough time. That in particular is something people don't seem to understand, especially now I've had transplant. I get told off for being 'morbid' but I see it as being realistic and like Alice, prefer to use it to push for the things I want out of life. There was a quote in the book, I can't remember exactly what it said, but it was along the lines of CF forcing you to grow up from a young age but at the same time robs you of so much independence. SO ACCURATE. Alice's closeness with her family and yes, also her occasional frustration with them, was something I felt closely mirrors my own life too.

I found it to be a hard read, obviously now with these new puffers of mine I can breathe easy (lololol that was just for every other person with CF that wants to vom when they read that) and while I hadn't forgot what that drowning feeling feels like I guess I just hadn't thought about it for a while. As if I needed reminding, I kept thinking again how bloody lucky I am to have got my new lungs and my heart broke for Alice's family and friends. I think they're so brave to have helped this book become a possibility. I think it's a fitting tribute to Alice's extraordinary life.

Franny & Zooey

So I'm restarting book reviews on the blog with Franny & Zooey by J. D. Salinger. I bloody loved Catcher In The Rye and have read it a few times, although how I feel about Holden Caulfield always changes depending on where I am in life at that moment - he either infuriates me or he's my hero. I have a bit of a thing for American literature from the 1950's and it's quite a shame that Salinger didn't leave behind a great deal of work so when I found Franny & Zooey in my local BHF I had to pick it up.

David Bowie Newspaper Book david bowie newspaper book review, david bowie newspaper book review, i just love it bowie book review, david bowie book

I bloody love Bowie, when I was little my all time favourite song was Oh! You Pretty Things (in fact I think it still might be) and it's probably because I grew up listening to him as my mum's a massive fan. So when  offered me the chance to review one of their lovely products the was a no-brainer! david bowie newspaper book review, david bowie newspaper book review, i just love it bowie book review, david bowie book david bowie newspaper book review, david bowie newspaper book review, i just love it bowie book review, david bowie book

The book is a mix of gorgeous photographs and newspaper clippings, I didn't know this but when my mum was younger she used to collect these herself in a scrapbook so she was really happy to have them again in a proper book! And it is a proper nice book, it comes leatherbound and it's pretty big too - like newspaper size. The personalisation is a very nice touch so it makes the perfect gift (even though I've been nicking it off mama to have a browse of my own!)

But it's not just a coffee table book to flick through, it covers the whole of Bowie's career from his wild 70s heyday to his later years happily married to Iman. I think in today's society it can be easy to be unappreciative of just how original he was and how he helped pave the way for those who were just a little bit different. He blurred the lines regarding gender, music and fashion and I think we take it for granted now what a trailblazer he was but we're reminded of this when looking back on old newspaper reports commenting on his 'shocking' behaviour. It's interesting to read how the media's attitude towards him changed in later years. david bowie newspaper book review, david bowie newspaper book review, i just love it bowie book review, david bowie book david bowie newspaper book review, david bowie newspaper book review, i just love it bowie book review, david bowie book

All in all it's a fitting tribute to a legend and it's something that I know my mum will treasure so I'm really happy I had the opportunity to gift it to her! I Just Love It has loads of personalised gifts on the site, personally I'd recommend the books as I think they make beautiful gifts but they have loads of things to choose from so you'll be sure to find the perfect present for someone (remember Valentine's Day is coming up 😏)

What do you think of personalised gifts? Are you a Bowie fan too? 

*The book was gifted but Bowie fangirling all my own and no payment was received in return for this post!

December Reading List

coco and igor book review, we should all be feminists review, the kings speech book review

In December I didn't read as much as I would've liked to but to be fair to myself it was Christmas I was mega busy! Although this month hasn't been that much better to be honest...

The King's Speech by Mark Logue & Peter Conrad | Obviously I've seen the Oscar-winning film about King George VI's (our Queenie's daddy) speech therapy with Lionel Logue but wasn't actually aware it was based on a book. Written by Logue's grandson, I must admit it's a little bland compared to the film - it reads very much like a history book rather than a novel so it probably won't be that engaging to most people. To be fair films usually exaggerate events in history to make it more exciting and as a history lover there were some interesting facts in there. It covers a longer time period than the film and goes into a lot more detail about both Logue and the King's lives. Logue was quite the character and I'd never really thought before about how debilitating a speech impediment might be, especially for someone so in the public eye. But like I said, it's not the most gripping read so is probably best for those interested in British history and the monarchy.

Coco And Igor by Chris Greenhalgh | Although based on real people (Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky) the book is a work of fiction. Stravinsky, an exiled Russian composer, came to lived with his family at Chanel's house in  the 1920's where an affair supposedly took place. Whatever the truth is this is a very entertaining read and Greenhalgh has brought all the characters to life in such a wonderfully human way. It'd be easy to write a more glamorous, romantic tale of the affair but it's messy, painful and clumsy as well as intimate - not black and white like Chanel's perfect house. Greenhalgh perfectly describes little moments that perhaps mean more than they might seem and all in all I found it to be a thoroughly entertaining read. A more sophisticated chick-lit novel if you like, perfect for a fashion lover too! I'm so interested in finding out more about Stravinsky's life now and make sure you give the a listen (maybe, like me, you'll remember it from Disney's Fantasia!) 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | Adapted from her original TED talk, it's a short read but an important one that I think everyone should read. Her points are argued so eloquently and persuasively I fail to see how anyone could disagree - it's all just common sense really that men and women should be equal. Feminism means something different to different people but this is perfect for anyone who is struggling to grasp the concept and would like to explore it more.

Have you read any of these books? What did you read in December?

Blogmas #3 | November Reading List

 I feel like I've really rediscovered my love of reading these past few months, I'd not been into books as much because HAI INTERNET but after deleting all the crappy apps on my phone (buh-bye Kim Kardashian Hollywood) I have bundles of spare time. I managed to read six books this month, SIX.

| This series needs no introduction but whilst I'm a huge fan of the movies I really didn't think the books would be my cup of tea. But I found the whole lot at the charity shop at Harefield so thought I'd give them a go and was so pleasantly surprised! Not your typical YA novel (kids killing kids anyone?) as while there is a love interest (or two) it's not the main focus. Katniss is a pretty kickass role model I'd say! It's utterly brutal but I cannot wait to read the next one.

| I thought the plot was more predictable than Gone Girl but really it's deeper than your usual 'whodunnit' as we learn more about Camille's past and family which makes it a whole lotta interesting! Much of it made for uncomfortable reading and many of the characters are quite unsavoury but I thought they and the subject matter were unique, I can't recall reading anything similar. I really want to read Dark Places next so will be keeping an eye out for that next time I'm in a charity shop!

| Now I'll be 'pretty honest' (harhar) I found this book in a charity shop for just £2 so I got it because how darn nice is the cover? But I had a flick through and ended up devouring every word - Sali has not only years and years of beauty industry knowledge behind her but she's also a very funny writer. I never once felt like I was being preached to or felt that her tone was patronising or intimidating. Glam but down to earth, she's just like your best gal pal you go to when you wanna know how to look bangin'. I'm late to the hype I know, but Sali has a new fan in me () 

| This has been sitting in my house for months and I had no intention of reading it but it was the closest thing to hand after I'd finished Sharp Objects and couldn't be bothered to go upstairs to fetch another book (those cosy Sunday evenings though!) But I'm so pleased I did, I was sucked into all the drama from the first page. I was expecting it to be all about a court case but it actually featured very little, each chapter instead delved a little deeper into a character's life and exposed them for who they really are. It reminded me how no one is actually as they seem and we all have our own little secrets (some dirtier than others!) They're all connected somehow but each had their own kind of story, which I loved because it kept the book interesting, plus they were all so flawed I'm not really sure I particularly liked any of them. I definitely know one thing though - I HATE HARRY. Ahem. 

| Every time I type this out I write 'wallpaper' instead of 'wallflower'. This is not it's title. I'd put off reading this for the longest time because I felt like I'd already read it thanks to the endless quotes on tumblr (see also; The Fault In Our Stars) However it's the kind of book I really wish I'd read as a teenager and at the same time it made me happy I'm no longer a teen because it reminded me that although that time had it's good moments it also kind of sucked! I could relate so much to Charlie, I was too was a wallflower and still am a little bit although less introverted than I was as a kid. Growing up I spent most of my time keeping myself to myself and my own little group of mates and sometimes I wonder if I should have stopped being so immersed in music and books and maybe 'participated' a bit more. I think this book might have encouraged me to be a little braver. It's one I'd give every kid to read, even though it gets quite deep at times it's highly readable and likeable. I've since watched the film and I have to admit, Emma Watson is not my Sam (or my Belle. She's barely even my Hermione, GO AWAY EMMA.)

Room by Emma Donoghue | I knew from a few pages in that this was gonna take me on an emotional ride and boy, did it?! It tells the story from Jack's perspective, a five year old that has spent all his life locked in a room with his Ma. To use a child's voice to tell such a dark and harrowing tale is an interesting concept and weirdly adds a little light relief to the novel, as well as providing an unreliable narrator (I love me one of those in a book!) Saying that I do think this story drags a little and if you don't find Jack's narrative interesting (or you may possibly find him annoying even, his childlike way of speaking could be grating to some) you may get bored of this quickly. 

What did you read in November? I'm now selling my read books on Depop to raise money for the , search 'sickchickchic' to see what I'm selling! OR .

October Reading Wrap Up

I didn't read as much last month as I did in September but still, didn't do too badly at all in my quest to get through the ever growing number of books in my to-read pile (which has gotten even higher after a recent raid of my local charity shops, oopsy.) This month there seems to be a theme of strong female protagonists, each in their own way that's very different from each other's!

Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks | You know I love Faulks and I was so happy to find this in a local charity shop so I could add to my collection! This book certainly did not disappoint, in fact I'd go as far as saying it was my favourite of his work yet - yep, it even beats Birdsong in my opinion. Set during World War Two, Charlotte is a young woman who is sent to France on an official errand for a British specials operations but she has an agenda of her own - to find her missing man. I love historical fiction and found it interesting that Charlotte's character was based on the real life Nancy Wake (what a woman, I recommend you read up on her!) This has romance and action and it was just an epic. A film was made starring Cate Blanchett and although I haven't seen it I don't think I'd like it because the ending is different - for me it's CG + PG 4EVA.

Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher | This was a gift whilst I was in hospital as part of a very kind and thoughtful care package from lovely Lucy. It's not something I would've picked up myself but I'm so glad I got to read it as it was a relaxing, easy read that was just what I needed to wind down with. The story is very basic but to me it was the  literary equivalent of reality TV - pure escapism! Though there are times the main character Sophie did my head in, sometimes I felt like she really needed to chill out haha. I was surprised the book wasn't funnier though because Fletcher seems like quite a laugh! But all  in all I think this is great if you just want a nice, easy read for on holiday or something.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff | I bought this book at the charity shop and Harefield and started this just after I'd read Charlotte Gray. So it did take me a while to get into because I was still so caught up in that novel and this one didn't quite catch my attention til a good few chapters in. It's based on the life of Lili Elbe, a transgender woman who underwent gender reassignment surgeries back in the 1930's. The author states this is a work of fiction and has changed Lili's real life Gerda into Greta, making up much of the details of their lives whilst still basing some of it on facts. They were both extraordinary women and while this novel is of course an important one about transgender history, for me it's also a story about acceptance - both of who you are and of the people you love. I ended up finishing it very quickly and watched the film not long after which is equally as good, although different. Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne are amazing as Gerda and Lili, they just make you want to hug the characters and have you feeling all the feels. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you read in October? 

September Reading Wrap Up

I didn't read so much when I was in hospital but since I've gotten home I've been a proper bookworm! I've barely been online because my head's been in a book instead but I'm so pleased to have gotten back into reading again. So I thought I'd do a little reading wrap up of mini reviews, hope you find a new read for yourself!

september reading wrap up, the great gatsby book review, on green dolphin street book review, the cursed child book review, the girl on the train book review

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald | I have a bit of an obsession with 1920's America so have  read loads on Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda but I hadn't actually read any of his work before so thought I'd start with the most famous of them all. It's known for Daisy and Gatsby's doomed love affair but I really liked the exploration of the American Dream too - there's a real murky undertone to it's glitzy exterior. If you're not usually a fan of the 'classics' or you want to kind of ease yourself into them gently then I recommend The Great Gatsby as the language is beautiful but still easy to understand - just be prepared for heartbreak! Or at least give one of the many film adaptations a go, Baz Luhrmann's is my favourite - Leo Dicaprio may have something to do with that...

On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks | Talking of heartbreak, this book had me sobbing! Set in 1950's America and based around an affair between married Brit Mary and divorced American journalist Frank, it has similar themes to The Great Gatsby - disillusionment, adultery and things not being as carefree as they seem. It wasn't obviously sad, like Birdsong was for example, but I feel like as we get one life it's important to do the things that make us happy (another theme of the book.) I don't know, I guess I just don't like sadness and heartbreak! Like Mary, I felt torn between her husband Charlie and Frank - in the end I was actually #TeamCharlie, which surprised me to be honest. I'm a big, big fan of Faulks' work (), he's never the cheeriest of reads but so far each book I've read has been really memorable. If you're going to read just one of his books go for Birdsong!

The Cursed Child: A Play By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne | Now before I start, I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of Harry Potter himself - he drove me mad in the books although he wasn't quite so irritating in the films. I enjoyed the books but I didn't love them for that reason, which was why I wasn't too sure if I'd like this. I had no problem with the fact that this was a play, I actually really enjoyed reading something that was written in a different way! Harry, Ron and Hermione are in this but it's based more on Harry's son Albus, who is just as much as a whiny git as his dad. Harry also really annoyed me in this but I loved the character of Scorpius, Malfoy's son. All in all though this was such an enjoyable read, I've not read any of the Harry Potter series since the last book was released so it was good to revisit that magical world. You can also really tell J.K. Rowling wrote this despite not being a novel and having other writers involved, it just has her special touch! It looks like a massive book but because of the format it's written in it was actually a super quick read too.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins | My aunt lent this to me when I was in hospital and I basically devoured it! Although I found the ending to be a bit silly I really loved how twisty the book was leading up to its conclusion and it certainly kept me guessing the whole way through. Weirdly I could relate to the main character Rachel and her anxiety over missing memories as I too had the same thing kind of - except mine wasn't caused by alcohol and I didn't think I'd murdered anyone! But I think Hawkins describes the feelings of anxiety very well which at points made me feel worse, so maybe give it a miss if you're feeling particularly vulnerable. It was a great, addictive thriller though and I can't wait to see the film! As for whether it's better than Gone Girl? For me this was a wilder ride!

What did you read in September? Do you have any recommendations?

The Boy That Never Was Review

I read this way back in February last year , at first I was unsure because it's not my usual type of book but I was interested to read it as the author, Karen Perry, is actually the pen name of two Dublin based writers - Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. I think this is quite an interesting concept and I don't know why but I always love reading books set in Ireland from Irish authors...there's something comforting about it, no matter what the subject is. Perhaps because of my Irish family? Although there's certainly nothing comforting about this book.

the boy that never was review, irish authors, karen perry

Based on the aftermath of their son's disappearance during an earthquake in Tangier, Robin and Harry are trying to rebuild their lives back home in Ireland. Robin has accepted that their little boy died but Harry is convinced he's still alive as his body was never recovered. Up until about halfway through the book I thought it was just one of those family dramas that's just all about emotions so I found it a little dull. But then came a twist that turned it into a thriller so it got a lot more enjoyable for me after that point. Luckily it's a short book so you don't have long to go before it starts getting a bit juicier. 

I didn't really care for a lot of the characters, although I liked Robin and kind of wished I'd known a little more about Cozimo...I felt he was quite an interesting character but he was in it too briefly to really get to know him. The ending did disappoint me a little; what happens in the book is dramatic but could happen in real life if you get what I mean and I just feel that the end turned it into something OTT. 

Overall it wasn't a bad read, I liked how the narrative switched from Harry to Robin every chapter but it was just maybe not my usual kind of thing. I feel like I'd like to watch a TV adaptation of this though, I think the whole thing is like one of those two-parter BBC dramas or something (which I personally love because I'm old on the inside!)

Have you read this before? Can you recommend any good Irish authors?

The Secret Speech Review

The Secret Speech has been sitting in my to-read pile since I got it for my birthday last year but since so much of my reading time was dedicated to the A Song Of Ice And Fire series I've not long gotten round to this. It's the sequel to Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, a book I really loved so I was super keen to see if this matched up.

Leo Demidov is back and trying to play happy families in post-Stalin Russia. One of my complaints about the previous book was that the ending was too clichéd and happy (I know, I don't know why I'm so mean) but it appears all is not as it seems and Leo's family home isn't quite as idyllic as he and his wife Raisa would like. Despite trying to lead an honourable life now, his past as an officer for the state is beginning to catch up with him putting all of their lives in danger. Again, this book is based on real events (Krushchev's speech, the uprising in Hungary) and I found this interesting as I'd not read any fictional books set in this era. I bet in real life it was a weird time so I'd definitely like to read more about it!

I think Child 44 was more of a head spin but The Secret Speech was still good enough to keep me gripped and it only took me a few days to finish it (rare for me these days!) There's a final book in the trilogy, Agent 6, that I want to get my hands on although at first glance it seems a bit over the top - there were times I thought the first two books were a bit far fetched but this seems like something else! But I think where it mixes in real life history I forget that it's not actually a true story - it's a crime/action fictional novel so it's going to be a bit OTT! I can't wait to read it though, I've become quite attached to our characters - especially Zoya, I hope we see her develop more as a person as she seems quite kick-ass. I do like the fact that Leo is so flawed too, The Secret Speech reveals just how much of a horrid person he was so it's kind of taught me a bit about myself and how I feel about forgiveness etc - bit deep, I know! So although it has all these crazy action scenes and it's quite violent so there's always something to keep you on your toes but there's quite an interesting psychological aspect to the book too. We have men who have done terrible things trying to atone whilst the people they committed these atrocities against are out to get revenge so it does blur the line between who is good and who is bad. Although I found the 'villains' to be very clichéd at times, I really liked that our 'heroes' are flawed.

All in all I'd recommend this if you're a fan of twisty, action-packed thrillers.

Have you read this book? What thrillers can you recommend? 

Alexa Chung's 'It'

I still have plenty to tell you about but today I fancied a break! While everything has been going on I've gotten back into reading big time so thought I'd pop a few reviews on here. I was so excited to receive this from my cousin at Christmas, being a self confessed Alexa fangirl I'd wanted this book for ages! And yeah I know you don't judge a book by it's cover but how pretty is that shade of pink?

Alexa Chung's 'It' review

I wasn't sure what to expect, I knew it wasn't an autobiography/advice book so I was intrigued to find out what exactly it was about. And to be honest, I'm still not sure! There's not a lot of structure, there's just loads of random photos and illustrations (by Alexa) with bits of text mainly about things and people she likes. If you're buying it for style advice or you want the goss on Alex Turner you'll be sorely disappointed.

Alexa Chung's 'It' review

There's quite a big section on her style icons (both male and female) which is fun but I feel like she's missed a trick by not talking about her own style that much as, let's be honest, it's what she's most known and loved for. I understand why she might not have wanted to do this because I'm guessing she wanted to be seen as more than a clothes horse! Saying that, I don't feel like we get to see her personality that well either. On TV she's quite sarcastic and funny but I'm not sure it translates that well on paper as it just seems to come across as a bit pretentious. But I feel like she's got a sense of humour that you either get or you don't, personally I see what she's trying to do but I can see why it might grate some people.

Alexa Chung's 'It' review

Basically it's pretty much a printed version of Alexa Chung's personal tumblr or something. I think most of it is supposed to be tongue in cheek although sometimes it's hard to tell when she's sending herself up and being serious! But she never promised anything deep or a tell-all memoir, I just found it to be an enjoyable and pretty book to flick through. It's definitely one for the die hard fan rather than someone looking for something meaty to read! I'm much preferring

Have you read 'It'? Any celeb book recommendations?

Brooklyn Review

 book actually belongs to my mum but as she left it in my hospital room when I was in so I gave it a go as it looked like a short and sweet read. I wasn't in the mood for anything too heavy and everyone said this was a pretty easy going book - they weren't kidding, in fact I found it to be one big yawnfest! To be fair I had just read Gone Girl, so most things were going to be a little dull after the wild ride that took me on, but I still didn't find this an enjoyable book.

brooklyn book review

Set in the 1950's, it's the story of an Irish girl, Eilis, who emigrates to Brooklyn in New York as work opportunities are sparse in her hometown. After a bit of a shaky start she finally begins to settle in until devastating news from home leaves her torn between her new world and her old life. I liked the fact that the characters are Irish, which I like in a book as there's something comforting about that for me as my Grandparents live in Donegal and I was intrigued what the news was. It sounded like a promising story!

And there's not much wrong with the plot. It's very realistic and believable but not so much so that it's not dramatic enough to keep your interest.  It just the devastating news doesn't happen until well after three quarters through which would be ok if the main character and the writing style weren't as boring as hell. You want to give Eilis a kick up the ass or something as she's just so dull - her emotions weren't expressed very well so it's hard to believe she's in love or devastated or feeling anything at all really. Everything is all written very matter of fact, even the couple of rude bits, it's kind of like reading from a textbook or some sort of official log. You get some sparks in the form of Tony and Rose and I think the landlady is written quite well but there are a couple of characters that sounded really interesting (such as Dolores and Mr Rosenblum) that we only get the briefest glimpse of. I just find it weird that they have more of a personality than Eilis. I wonder if it's meant to be like that, if she's supposed to be a very reserved character - but I just think the turmoil of moving from a quiet place in Ireland to the busy, multicultural streets of New York could have been written with so much more expression. All in all, I just found myself not caring about what happened to her which is never a good thing in a book! I honestly struggle to see how it's been so successful.

Saying this, I do really want to see the film. I was shocked they managed to make one out of this borefest but the three minute trailer is actually better than the whole book as the actors really bring the characters to life (hurrah, finally Eilis has some emotion!) 

Have you read this or seen the film? Can you recommend any short and sweet, easy going reads?

How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are

For Christmas I was super lucky to get some books that'd been on my wishlist for a while. They're fun, coffee table type things that you feel a little guilty buying for yourself (or is that just me?) and this one was from my grandparents -

How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are flatlay

I'd asked for it because 1) You know I'm a loser who wants to be Parisian so bad and 2) I'm a bit obsessed with Caroline de Maigret, who co-wrote the book, alongside three other ladies who I'd not heard of but are of course equally stylish and talented. Friends in real life too, they're like a way cooler version of the Sex And The City girls! I love the simple cover and the illustration because someone said if you took away the ciggie it looks like me and I will always be grateful to her for that lie <3

How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are review

It has advice on everything, from what to cook at a dinner party to how to pretend you have a lover (yep) and all in all is just a fun and witty read. I think a lot of people would find this book to be quite cringey and pretentious but I don't think it's meant to be taken seriously, it's just tongue in cheek () I feel like the ladies are just sending themselves up and I love when people can laugh at themselves so I thought it was really funny! If you're buying it looking for style advice then I think you'd be disappointed as there's not much fashion or beauty in it, it's more about the Parisian attitude.

How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are review

It was a really quick read with some lovely, Tumblr-esque photos - all in all, it's just a fun book to flick through! Will I be adopting any of this Parisian advice? Probably not, but it's a relief to know it's not as effortless as it seems ;-)

Have you read this book? Anyone else a wannabe Frenchie?

The Ice Twins

So I finally completed all of the current books in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series - only took me all year which is why it's been ages since my last book post! I absolutely loved them, I won't review them all individually (although ) but I'll say if you if you're not a fan of the fantasy genre don't dismiss them completely because there's so much more to them than dragons!

Anyway before I finished the last book I read because I didn't want ASOIAF to be over too quickly haha. My mum gave it to me when I was in hospital, it's definitely not something I would've picked up myself because the cover looks kind of cliché to me -  identical twin girls holding hands, mysterious and creepy light house, *yawnyawn*. But I'm so glad I did give it a go because I actually really enjoyed it!

The Ice Twins review

Angus and Sarah move to a remote Scottish island with their daughter Kirstie in a bid to rebuild their lives after the death of Kirstie's twin sister Lydia. This in itself is sad and upsetting but it's when Kirstie asks her mum 'Why do you keep calling me Kirstie, I'm Lydia' that the creepiness starts! With no way to tell by DNA exactly who their remaining daughter is you end up just as confused as Sarah and Angus so you wind up going through the twists and turns with them. All through I was guessing whether this was a supernatural or psychological thriller which I found really interesting - love a book that keeps you guessing!

The narrative switches from first person Sarah to third person Angus, which at first I didn't get but then it all made sense towards the end. Each character reveals each others flaws which made it feel very real to me, neither of them are perfect and the way the chapters were done played out their crumbling marriage so well I think. I don't think either of them are particularly likeable but they just seem very human.

I don't want to reveal too much because there's no point reading a thriller if you know what's gonna happen but what I will say is this was far creepier than I expected. I tend to avoid scary books because I find them a bit cheesy but I found this to be quite realistic which just made it all the more unnerving! It's also a good one to read this time of year as it's a cold and gloomy setting - I don't know about you but I struggle to read books like that in the warmer months.

Have you read The Ice Twins? Have you got any creepy thriller recommendations? 

Blurb Photo Book Review

I love taking photos but like most people I'm so guilty of just leaving them in my memory card - it's rare that I actually get them printed so they often end up being forgotten about which is a real shame. So when I had the chance to review I was so excited to actually see some of my favourite shots in print!

Blurb photo book

A Game Of Thrones Book Review

By the time I got round to watching the first series of Game Of Thrones the fourth one was just ending so I was very late to the game with this one. I only started reading the books this year after I was given the whole set of A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R. R. Martin for Christmas and I so wish I'd gotten into them sooner! I'm generally not really a fan of the fantasy genre (even Harry Potter, don't hate me) and I won't lie, these are big fat books and the fact that there are so many in the series already did put me off a little. BUT after reading the first book I'm hooked so thought I'd put together a little review for those of you who might be a little sceptical still.

A Game Of Thrones Book

I don't want to discuss too much of the plot as there are so many OMG moments so I don't want to ruin it for anyone but it's basically set in a fictional, fantasy world where there is a power struggle to control the Kingdom - hence the name, 'A Game of Thrones'. ' If you've watched the series book one pretty much follows the same plot as the first series, although I believe there are major differences in the later books compared to the series. I think the characters are so well written, the baddies are proper nasty which is the kind of thing you want in epic stories like this and although there are certain characters I root for I would say no one is perfect, they're all flawed which keeps things interesting as for me personally it means I never know what to expect from them! I love the format of the book too, each chapter is written from a different characters viewpoint which is great as there are a lot of key characters in the book so to get to know them better is useful. I love the choice of characters that Martin chose to base chapters on too, he left the right ones out (like Varys and Littlefinger for example) because they need a bit of mystery to them. I love how strong the characters are and the fact that the women have just as much game as the men - it's just disappointing that the tv series almost ruins this by having so many scenes with naked prostitutes in it but then I guess that's unfortunately to be expected with tv...

As for the fantasy elements, that I was most concerned about, there are actually very few in this book. Yes there's mentions of dragons and a little witchcraft etc but it's all very much in the background but at the same time it's all relevant - plus having seen the series I know these things will feature a little more in later books. The main focus is on the struggle for the Iron Throne and for this reason it definitely appeals to the history geek in me. Yes it's a fictional world but the detail Martin goes into creating its history, politics and every day things like what the smallfolk wear and eat is incredible, it almost seems like a real place. The dress and courtesies etc are very similar to what we saw in series like The Tudors (which was my total guilty pleasure!) so it's very similar to historical novels which is one of my favourite genres.

I must admit had I not watched the series first I think I would have gotten majorly confused by all the characters as there are so, so many and some of them have very similar names too. Saying that there is a helpful guide in the books to all the houses and their history which I think is a nice touch. All in all I say don't knock these books til you've tried them and definitely give them a go if, like me, you love historical novels.

Have you read these books or do you watch the series? Who's your favourite character? I know she's evil but mine is Cersei! 

Check out my other book reviews

LIFESTYLE | Winter's Bone Book Review

So I picked this up in a charity shop because I love the film (it earned J-Law her first Oscar nomination!) and was keen to see if the book was as amazing as the film. I'm also really into American literature and am always on the lookout for great, modern American authors.

First of all it's a short book with quite short chapters so in that sense it's very easy to read...however the content is not as easy to stomach and I found myself grimacing at times! It's told in the third person focusing on Ree, a 16 year old girl who has to find her meth-making daddy who has been AWOL for a while and needs to return asap because if he doesn't show up for his court date they will lose the house which was put up as part of his bond. This would leave Ree, her two young brothers and mentally ill mother with nowhere to live, so it's pretty important she locates him sharpish! If I were to put this into a genre (although I hate to pigeonhole books!) I'd say this was kind of a crime thriller/mystery but not so much in the traditional sense as I'll explain later.

First up, let me say I love Ree. She's gutsy and determined, a product of the poverty and harsh conditions that she lives in (the rural Ozarks of the US) much like most of the people in the book who are hardened by life. While the majority of the others are unsavoury characters, with Ree we get to see her kindness. She's also brave but in a believable way, I mean she'll do things but still feel nervous and scared...she just seems real. I don't like when you get a hero or heroine who shows no real feeling, when they're too clinical if you get what I mean? I love how the characters speak too, it's good to read a dialogue different to your own and the imagery is so vivid you just get a real sense of what the place and people are like. It's almost like a gangster novel with the unspoken rules and family loyalties. The novel is dark, tense, gritty and downright gruesome at times but I loved it.

I've described this as a crime thriller but it's not so much about what happened to Ree's father because we get an idea very early on about that. I think some people might be disappointed because you won't get all the answers and will still be asking questions at the end which is why I don't see it as a 'whodunnit'. For me it's more about the world that Ree is living in and how she survives.

All in all I recommend this if you're into dark fiction, strong female protagonists and/or American novels. It may be short but (sorry for the cliché) it packs one hell of a punch! I'll definitely be looking out for more of Woodrell's work.

Have you read this book or seen the film? What American literature can you recommend to me? Check out my other book reviews !

LIFESTYLE | Child 44 Review

While I was browsing my local British Heart Foundation I bought Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. the title of this book caught my eye for some reason and when I read the back I decided to get it despite it not being my usual thing (it's from an author I hadn't read or heard of and it's not been made into a film I've seen before which are my usual criteria when choosing a book!) But it's set in Russia in 1953, a time period I'm quite interested in after studying it at school.

Child 44 Book Review

Our main main is Leo Demidov, a Secret Service officer for the Russian government who suddenly finds his life completely changed when he discovers there is a murderer killing children for seemingly no reason in a State where crime officially doesn't exist. I'm not usually one for thrillers or murder mysteries but I found this, well, thrilling! It's unusual for me to read a book in a few days, especially one that's 500-odd pages, but I just couldn't put it was one of those ones where you don't even wanna go out because you just want to carry on reading. There were twists I didn't see coming and I loved how Leo's character changes and that we get to discover what Raisa (his wife) is really like alongside Leo. I didn't predict anything that was going to happen, even though looking back now I can see some clues that other people will probably be able to piece together. I'm probably just super thick haha. I think some people may find the dialogue a little bland but maybe this is the author's attempt at showing how people were afraid to show their true emotions at the time? 

As a bit of a history geek I think it captured the mood of Russia at the time very well...the fear and the paranoia. It's horrible that the murders were based true events (you can read it up if you're interested although if you're going to read this book then don't look it up!) I like that Smith has gone to great lengths to be historically accurate when it comes to life in Russia at the time without taking away the excitement of the thriller. 

It's an action packed book so obviously there are times when it's not very realistic but for the most part I found it quite believable. However when he finds the killer I just thought 'Really?' I understand the explanation for the murders but just thought it was weak if that makes sense, I was just thinking how it wouldn't happen and that someone wouldn't go that far. And I found the ending almost Disney-fied, for a grim book it just felt like it didn't fit in. I get a lot of readers would be really happy with this ending though, maybe I'm just some kind of mean person haha! But this is the first book in a trilogy, I really want to read the others in the series. There's a film out now too which has totally flopped at the box office but I still want to see it because Tom Hardy. 

Have you read this book before? Any Russian history/Tom Hardy fans out there? Will you be seeing the film?

LIFESTYLE | Burial Rites Review

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent has been on my wishlist for the longest time so I was super psyched to find this in my local British Heart Foundation (I also found and To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf so it was a fab mini haul!) Everyone raves about it so I was keen to see if it lived up to the hype. I'd also remembered during one of my regular Jennifer Lawrence stalking sessions (I'm not sorry, I know I'm not the only fangirl!) that a film version was apparently in the pipeline so wanted to read it before it potentially comes out. If only I knew of the heartbreak this book would bring me!

Burial Rites Book Review

So we're taken back to 1829 Iceland, a cold and harsh landscape where conditions are tough and the entertainment scarce. So when a trio are found guilty of murder and are sentenced to death the gossips go wild over the 'evil' murderess Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who to the horror of one family is sent to live with them whilst she awaits her fate. Viewed by all as a monster it's only as she reveals her side of the story to Tóti, the poor priest who's come to prepare her for what's to come and is a little in love with her, that opinions start to change and people learn not to believe everything they hear.

What really attracted me to this book was the historical aspect, I'm a huge history nerd and I was intrigued to learn that this was based on a true story. Agnes was the last person to die by capital punishment in Iceland and yet despite this making her somewhat a figure of historical significance very little is known of her actual life. It's just generally considered that she was evil and as the author says, people know 'Agnes the myth, rather than Agnes the woman.' So I appreciate how sharply Kent brings her to life and gives her a voice, although this 'speculative autobiography' certainly has been romanticised perhaps a little too much but then again I'm not always sure how reliable Kent intended Agnes' narrative to be. But maybe I'm just seeing her as an untrustworthy person to try and ease my heartbreak!

Because despite the historical background and geographical accuracy (Kent describes the cold and isolating landscape so vividly you can feel the coldness and loneliness in your bones) this is very much a book about human emotion. I will warn you, there is no light relief in this book and it is dark, by the end I was crying my eyes out! It's crazy, I remember seeing this on loads of peoples Instas as their holiday reading and I wouldn't really recommend this for relaxing by the pool! Probably one more for evenings in but wherever, whenever you choose to read I couldn't recommend this enough for Kent's hauntingly beautiful writing style alone. Too lyrical for some maybe, but I loved it. If you like historical novels but can't bear those Philippa Gregory type offerings then maybe give this a go. I'd be interested to see the film if it does come out, although I'm not sure J-Law is my Agnes...I think an older actress would be better! Maybe Eva Green.

Have you read this? Do you like historical novels? I'd love some recommendations if you have any!

LIFESTYLE | White Teeth Review

I've been wanting to read some of Zadie Smith's work for some time and where better to start than with her début novel White Teeth? Another fab charity shop find, I couldn't wait to read.

White Teeth Book Review

It's quite hard to sum this book up as so much happens but I'd say it's mainly the story of the families of Archie and Samad Iqbal, two unlikely best friends living in North London. It covers 'deep' subjects (race, faith, cultural identity and gender to name a few) but Smith turns these heavy situations into something humorous where I was literally laughing aloud at some points. Usually when you read criticisms of society they're very ranty or sombre so I think this was clever of the author as it's a way to get and keep people's attention onto serious matters.

People have criticised the characters for being almost caricatures at certain points but for me it worked because it's a funny book...I can't think of many funny novels or films where the characters weren't a bit over the top! And I love, love, love Smith's talent for dialogue, she captures the voice of each character so well...especially impressive considering there are a lot of them! It's told in third person but each section switches to focus on different characters and sometimes different time periods too, we find ourselves back in the 1800's all the way to the year 2000. I did find myself having to do a bit of work to remember who was who etc but I didn't mind.  When I was reading it I was thinking how the book would make a great TV programme (I since found out it was turned into a series, I'd love to watch it if I can!)

My only criticisms would be that I think the book is a tad too long and very slow paced at times. I also feel that the ending was very rushed, it almost felt like it was like 'Arghh running out of space, better just squeeze this in quickly!' if you get what I mean haha. But I still really enjoyed reading it, I think if you like funny books about families you'd like it too!

Have you read White Teeth or any more of Zadie Smith's work? I really want to read her other books for sure!

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