Thursday 30 June 2011

Pride and Premiership ~ Michelle Gayle have kindly asked me to review this newly released YA book .....

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Remy and her sister Malibu have one goal: to be the wife or girlfriend of a premiership footballer.

In order to pursue this goal they frequent bars and nightclubs where famous and not so famous footballers go to relax after a hard game. Both Remy and Malibu are attractive young women, and even though Remy doesn’t feel she is attractive enough, they both manage to snare their men, what then follows, runs true to the old adage - “be careful what you wish for....”

The novel is written in the form of Remy’s diary, with short and snappy dialogue. She is an engaging narrator and there are some genuinely funny moments, with revealing insights into her relationships with her family and friends. The book is aimed primarily at the young adult market but contains some adult content which may well appeal to the older teenager, and the clever use of Quick Response bar codes dotted throughout the narrative, reveals extra content which is not included in the text.

It is clear that the author, Michelle Gayle, once married to a footballer, has used her insider knowledge to positive effect, and the exploration of what life is like as a WAG is convincing without being over sensationalised. Overall, I thought the book was particularly well done, and will have definite appeal to its young target audience, but it also has the unique ability to cross over into the adult market, and would appeal to an audience who enjoy celebrity culture. I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it – it’s going to appeal to girls rather than boys, but I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to my friends with teenage daughters.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Review round up...

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Just imagine, a summer’s day, a cool white wine and this huge blockbuster of a novel taking you on a roller coaster of a journey through the lives of the rich and famous. Part murder / mystery, and part celebrity gossip, this novel just oozes appeal, and opens a fascinating dialogue between the bored rich, and the undeniably famous, and the lawyers who attempt to defend them from public censure. From the super famous who get down and dirty, to the heartbreak of a family caught up in the murder of a loved one, this story capture the imagination from the opening page. The characters are finely drawn, and whilst not always likeable, they add a kaleidoscope of colour to a rich and varied story. This is my first real taste of a Tasmina Perry novel, and from the enjoyable experience of this book, I’m sure I will now go on to read more from this talented author.

I read and reviewed this book for

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he loves spy novels !!

Spanning the Cold War years from the Sixties to the Eighties, this sweeping novel, told from a Soviet spy's viewpoint, accurately and chillingly conveys the deep mistrust and brutality of Russia's ruling Communist Party. Written in a clinical, cold, hard style to accurately portray the harsh environment and living conditions, the leading character's life is expertly told in gripping language. From poverty stricken Moscow slums, to fashionably emerging New York, then to war torn backwater Afghanistan under Russian invaders, the story envelops the reader in its realistically woven tale of faceless State versus individual feelings and longings. All the characters emerge believably, and the storyline sweeps the reader along at an ever-increasing pace to its conclusion. An excellent read, full of emotion,adventure and intrigue. Recommended to all interested in spy/adventure novels.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Jaffa's book shelf grows and grows.....

Jaffa is just as excited when new books pop through the door for him...

So far on his book shelf he has......

Kittens by Rachel Hale
The Wisdom of Kittens - Franchesca Ho Sang
One Hundred ways for a cat to train its human by Celia Haddon
One Hundred ways to live with a cat addict by Ronald Payne
If Cats could talk -the meaning of meow- a M&S book written by Michael P. Fertig
Feline friends A Cat lovers treasury published by Quercus
Cat Watching by Desmond Morris
When Cats turn bad -Kitty Litter
Dewey, the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper
Kaspar Prince of Cats - Michael Morpurgo
The Cats on Hutton Roof by Marilyn Edwards

If anyone can think of any other books that Jaffa would like - please leave him a comment - cat books only please.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

How does my garden grow...on this first day of summer.

I always thought 21June was midsummers day but Google tells me it's the first day of summer....

I was just thinking about the nursery rhyme -

"Mary,Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row "

This was one of my favourite nursery rhymes when I was a child, but did you know that it's origin is steeped in the history of "Bloody Mary". Mary Tudor , daughter of Henry VIII, was determined to make England a Catholic country again.
The garden refers to the ever increasing graveyards, as she persecuted those who continued to maintain their Protestant faith.
Silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture, often used on the Catholic prisoners.
Pretty Maids allude to the means of dispatch.....

Maybe it's not such a pretty rhyme.

Monday 20 June 2011

Reviews on the go....

My Review books this week are :

I've been lucky to have be given early release copies of two very different books:

Private Lives is the latest book by Tasmina Perry, best selling author of Daddy's Girls.

Private Lives is due for publication August 4th 2011 by Headline Review
Reviewed for Realreaders

Agent6 is the latest from Tom Rob Smith, the best selling author of Child44 and The Secret Speech.

Agent 6 is due for publication July 1st 2011 by Simon and Schuster Ltd.
Reviewed for Realreaders

Sunday 19 June 2011

Here's one in action....

Just to show they do work perfectly !!

My Little Book Bag....

I've been knitting these quirky little book bags for quite a while now, and give them out as gifts to family and friends. Two have recently crossed the Atlantic to America.

They are just the right size to hold an average size paperback or Kindle and keep your reads safe and warm.!

This is a new knitting design I've been trying out, and I think it works quite now busy thinking of new colour combinations to try out.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think .....

Incidentally - the flowers were picked this morning from my garden.

Books in my week....

I've had a fairly quiet book week - not because the books were bad, far from it - but mainly because I've been spending the time devising a new design for my ever popular knitted book bags, and try as I might I simply can't knit and read paper books at the same time....

Letters From HomeLetters From Home by Kristina McMorris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Set in 1944, against the backdrop of WW2 this sweet love story is based on the author's own grandparents wartime correspondence.
Elizabeth has a fiancรฉ, but pretending to be her friend Betty, she starts a wartime correspondence with GI Morgan McCain. As Morgan faces fighting in the conflict in Europe, their letters become increasingly intimate, and Elizabeth is faced with the dilemma of loving two very different men.

Beautifully written from the opening page, this is a delightful debut novel. The narrative could so easily have developed into an overly sentimental love story, but the transformation of the characters during the course of the story serves as a panacea against the horror of war. I think that the author has used her own family’s wartime experiences to great advantage, and the book is a marvellous testament to her grandparents, and the resilience and fortitude of a generation of young people who faced loss on grand scale.

I was lucky enough to be given an advance reading copy of this lovely book to review for :

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

This beautifully written book has an overwhelming theme of love and loss, and expertly captures the hedonistic atmosphere of pre war WW2 London and Europe.
Tessa Nicholson is young and very beautiful, she embraces love and passion with joie de vivre, and yet when she meets and falls in love with a married man her whole life is irrevocably changed. Her younger sister Frederica, has a stabilising influence but with war looming the sisters need to make their own very difficult choices.

I really enjoyed this book, Judith Lennox has an easy style of writing that captivates from the opening line, she has long been one of my favourite authors and this latest book is a perfect summer read.

And finally .......My guilty pleasure read of the week !!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 0paws -

In the aftermath of the battle of Culloden, the Scottish highlands are populated with English redcoats who seek to destroy the very fabric of Highland life. When Madeleine Fraser's father is killed at Culloden,she swears to take vengeance, and raids English supplies in order to feed her villagers. When her family home is taken over by a group of English redcoats Madeleine must seek to hide her identity from the handsome English Captain, Garrett Marshall, but she is unprepared for the effect this dashing English soldier will have on her heart.

I love a good adventurous Highland romp, and this was certainly risquรฉ - it also had the added advantage of being a free kindle download.Great escapism - handsome hero gets the girl. Works for me every time !

Monday 13 June 2011

My weekly review round up...

A really successful batch of crime books kept me occupied last week. Taking me to America and Grant County courtesy of Karin Slaughter's excellent book Broken. Staying in America with Linwood Barclay's Too Close To Home, which was a fascinating look at small town America and the sheer misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. My week ended with Jane Casey's second crime novel The Burning, set in and around London and the Home counties, this was an interesting look at how a murder investigation can evolve.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jaffa's rating 4paws

Whenever I pick up the latest Karin Slaughter book I know that I am in for a jolly good read. Graphic and gritty from the opening page Broken just flows seamlessly from beginning to end - the story sees the return of Sara Linton to Heartsdale for a family thanksgiving celebration. Unwillingly she is drawn into a local murder investigation which will have far reaching repercussions for her old adversary, Lena Adams.Interestingly, this novel sees the introduction of Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation onto Sara's home turf - the burgeoning relationship between Will and Sara is reaching the interesting phase.

This is a cleverly executed crime thriller, and well worth the read, I really liked it.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Promise Falls is a small town in up state New York, it's rather sleepy and not much happens, that is, until Derek Cutter witnesses a murder - a classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time - or is it? What then follows is s cleverly constructed crime thriller with enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you turning the pages. The characterisation is good, and compliments the storyline which is gritty in places but never gratuitously violent.

I enjoyed it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws

Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious young woman detective trying to make her mark in man's world. Her investigating skills are good but never fully recognised until she is given the opportunity to work on an enquiry into the murder of a young woman who may be the fifth victim of a serial killer known as The Burning Man. What then follows is a cleverly constructed crime thriller with enough psychological content to keep you guessing. All the separate strands of the story are cleverly brought together with a satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed Jane Casey's debut novel The Missing but must say that her writing in The Burning is tighter and much more controlled, overall, it's a much better novel.

I look forward with interest to reading her next book.

This was my favourite read of the week and highly recommend it.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Aren't people great !

I've felt quite ill over the past few weeks with an illness that periodically rears its ugly head and brings devastation to my life, but through all the rubbish I've found out that what is truly important in my life is -

The love of a good man..
My children..
My family, and my friends...

...and reading a good book with jaffa !!

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style"
Maya Angelou

To all those I love -----THANK YOU !!

Tuesday 7 June 2011

My Life in Book Titles....

By using the titles from some of the books I have read this year, I've devised this fun list!!

Describe Yourself...Rich Girl, Poor Girl by Leslie Lokko

How do you feel...Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey

Describe where your currently live...The House at Sea's End by Ellie Griffiths

If you could go anywhere , where would you go...Crimson China by Betsy Tobin

Your favourite form of transportation...Auriel Rising by Elizabeth Redfern

Your Best Friend...Belle by Lesley Pearse

You and your Friends are ...The Forgotten Legion by Ben Kane

What's the weather like today...Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

What's your favourite time of day...Darkside by Belinda Bauer

If your Life was like ...Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

What is important in life to you...The Weight of Silence by Helen Gudenkauf

What do you fear...The Gallows Curse by Karen Maitland

What is the best advice you have to give...Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

Thought for the Day ...The Hand that first held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell

Monday 6 June 2011

Cold comfort crime...

I have spent the last few weeks wallowing in comfort reads, so have decided to go to the opposite end of my comfort spectrum, and immerse myself in good crime novels. Jaffa is breathing a sigh of relief, as comfort reads are a bit girlie for him - he loves a good crime scene, and rather fancies himself as a super sleuth....

SO...... our reads this week are :

Broken by Karin Slaughter - I'm so excited to read this -it's been on my shelf for months but I could only start read it once I knew that there would be another book coming out soon...30 days actually to the publication of Fallen in the UK

The Burning by Jane Casey - I really enjoyed Jane Casey's debut crime novel The Missing, so here's hoping that this one lives up to expectations.

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay - I read and enjoyed No Time for Goodbye when it came out way back in 2007, but then didn't manage to get round to reading any more from this excellent American crime novelist - so.... as I have two of his books on my shelves , it's high time I read at least one of them....

Thought for the Day - Books. Cats. Life is Good (Edward Gorey)

Sunday 5 June 2011

My weekly review round-up...

During our quiet time jaffa and I have had a good selection of nice and easy they are...

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

Whilst her husband is fighting in the horrors of WW1,Lady Helen Barstairs begins an illicit affair with a dashing young Canadian captain, when she becomes pregnant, Helen's parents hide her away so that she will not be the subject of local gossip and condemnation. At birth the baby is forcibly removed from Helen's care and given to an illegal adoption agency who place the child far away from Helen's grasp.
The novel then moves forward to the 1940's and with WW2 having a devastating effect on everyone's lives, Helen Drummond is preparing for her wedding to Bob Rawton, with little knowledge of how her future is about to be altered.

This is a beautifully written family saga which expertly captures the feelings and fear of living through the war years, when to be young and in love came at a price, and which proves that the consequences of our actions can have far reaching repercussions.

I enjoyed it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws

Vulnerable Fen comes with the burden of carried secrets, and yet is a wonderfully supportive mother to her damaged child. When an equally damaged Sean enters her life , Fen is overcome with desire for him but allows him the time and space to find her in his own way. This beautifully written story of love, loss and the power of redemption captures the intricacies of relationships with extraordinary perception.

I loved reading this book, and from the opening page I was drawn quickly into the story - I thought that Louise Douglas's debut book The Love of My Life was pretty special - take my word for it - this one is too.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 3paws

This is a super series of intertwining short stories which highlight a community of Beach Hut dwellers over the course of a summer. All the characters come to life, and when some stories overlap it all adds to the overall effect of a light and easy summer read.

This is one of those books that you could easily read in one perfect summer afternoon.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

When 12 year old Jodie Foot goes missing from a sleepy English village the whole community is shocked and saddened, the knock -on consequences will have a far reaching effect on everyone.I really enjoyed the whole village atmosphere and there's some lovely characterisation, with sensitive and thoughtful insights into what makes people act the way they do.

This is a quietly reflective book, rather typical of Sarah Challis's light and easy style of writing. As always she expertly captures the nuances of behaviour in a rural setting.