Sunday, 26 February 2012

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Mondays #5

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling tbr piles and humongous wishlists. In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metroreader.

In my mailbox is hosted by  The Story Siren.

This week I got a kindle and four new books!

The first book I got this week is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. I have seen this on lots of blogs and was thrilled to get it from netgalley this week. I can't wait to read it next. Here's the synopsis from 

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead--and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

The second book I got this week was also from netgalley. It is The last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen. I hadn't heard of this one until I saw it on netgalley and thought it sounded really interesting. Here's the synopsis from  

                                                                                                                          For almost a century, Imperial Russia has captivated the imagination- the ruthless execution of the royal family, the disputed survival of the heir: it's a cinematic chaos that the masterful Dora Levy Mossanen unravels for her readers. Taking readers deep into tarnished grandeur, The Last Romanov follows Darya, a wise old beauty whose time spent with the Imperial family has haunted her entire life. When the murderous events unfold, Darya is plagued by the prophecy made by the Empress's advisor, Rasputin. She must find the missing Tsarevich Alexis Romanov and restore the monarchy or risk losing her own life.

The third book I got this week is Prophecy - The fulfilment by Deborah A. Jaeger. I got this book from Amazon for my kindle after coming across it randomly on fantastic fiction. It didn't cost much so I thought I would give it a go. Here's the synopsis from
                                                                                                                            A typical teenager, Jillian Macomb, is looking forward to senior high. Or at least she was. Having just broken up with her boyfriend, she receives the stunning and unexpected news that she's pregnant. Her father's protege, Stephen Jacobs, and she form an unlikely alliance as they realise that their nighttime apparitions are more than simple dreams, making it clear to them that the child she carries is no ordinary child. When a geneticist discovers that Jillian's pregnancy holds the key to inexplicable healings, he will stop at nothing to claim the magnificent discovery as his own. Meanwhile, government officials and representatives from the Catholic Church arrive to investigate the astonishing events, realising that whoever controls the source of the miracles will become the ultimate world power. In the ultimate test of faith, Stephen and Jillian must decide who they can trust, and whether or not to believe the compelling and terrifying message of the prophecy.

The fourth and final book I got this week was The Dress by Sophie Nicholls. I got this from Amazon for my kindle. I discovered it by looking through the kindle bestseller lists.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon. 
                                                                                                               Meet Ella and her mother Fabbia Moreno who arrive in York, one cold January day, to set up their vintage dress shop.

The flamboyant Fabbia wants to sell beautiful dresses to nice people and move on from her difficult past. Ella just wants to fit in. But not everyone is on their side. 

Will Fabbia overcome the prejudices she encounters? What's the dark secret she's hiding? And do the silk linings and concealed seams of her dresses contain real spells or is this all just 'everyday magic'?

Among the leopard-print shoes, tea-gowns and costume jewellery in Fabbia's shop are many different stories - and the story of one particular dress.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

REVIEW She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb is an amazing story. It has had me hanging on it's every word for the last week. I wanted to read it but didn't want it to end. Reading other reviews of this book there are as many people who love it, as who hate it. I love it! Which is a weird thing to say about a book who's central character has such a miserable life.

It is basically the story of Dolores Price, we meet her when she is a little girl and follow her through her life until about forty years old. She certainly has more than her fair share of bad things happen to  her and the consequences are extreme at times. The first thing that happens is the death of her baby brother at birth, this changes her family life forever and is really the catalyst that destroys her parents marriage and leads to a chain of events that she struggles to come to terms with. Moving to a new school, being bullied at school, feeling isolated from her peers is just the beginning of Dolores' problems. Then the unimaginable happens, something that changes her life forever. 

As a result we see Dolores sink deeper into her isolation and despair, eventually reaching rock bottom emotionally with a nervous breakdown and physically being severely overweight. She spends many years getting better, eventually feeling able to experience the real world once again.
She embarks on a new life, and relationship and believes she has finally found happiness. However once again it all comes crashing down around her.

But this time she is a much stronger person and yet again builds a new life for herself. This time a real life, built on trust, friendship and love. The relationships she forges with various characters in the latter stages of the book are very touching. Despite all the awful things that have happened to her she still hasn't given up on life and relationships.

I enjoyed this book very much. If I hadn't known the author was a man I never would have guessed, it feels so much like a woman's perspective on life. It all feels so real, being with Dolores every step of the way, experiencing every emotion with her. At times you feel angry with her, sad with her, and happy with her. I can't believe I've had this book on my shelf for over two years, I wish I had read it sooner. I will certainly be reading more by Wally Lamb.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Mondays #4

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling tbr piles and humongous wishlists. In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metroreader.

In my maibox is hosted by  The Story Siren.

This week I just got three new books.

The first book I received this week was Stately Pursuits by Katie Fforde. This was given to me by my Mum who was having a bit of clear out. I have never read a book by Katie Fforde, but a lot of my reading friends like her and have read quite a few of her books.
Here is the synopsis from
Hetty Longden’s mother thinks that looking after Great Uncle Samuel’s crumbling stately country home will be just the thing for Hetty’s broken heart. But if Hetty expected to be miserable in private, she is in for a rude awakening in a village that revolves around the Big House, and Hetty finds herself with very little time to wallow.   

My second book this week was also given to me by my Mum. Life Begins by Amanda Brookfield. I have read two books by Amanda Brookfield a couple of years ago and really enjoyed them.
Here is the blurb from the back cover.

If life Begins at forty, Charlotte Turner's not off to the best of starts. On top of a recent divorce, a failed attempt to move house and trouble with her twelve-year-old son, the husband of her closest friend has just started to show rather too much interest in her as a newly single woman.

No longer able to blame everything on a floundering marriage, Charlotte is forced to open her eyes and embark on an emotional journey into her past. Only when she has faced some challenging and revealing truths can she finally shed the unhappy skin she's become so used to, and open up her life - and her heart - to all the promise and possibility that her future holds.

The third and final book this week is The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. I got this half price at the local bookstore. I have seen it mentioned on various blogs and thought I would give it a go. Here is the synopsis from

Then she opened her mouth to scream—and recognized me. It was what I’d been waiting for. She froze. She looked into my eyes. She said, “It’s you.”
Meet Jake. A bit on the elderly side (he turns 201 in March), but you’d never suspect it. Nonstop sex and exercise will do that for you—and a diet with lots of animal protein. Jake is a werewolf, and after the unfortunate and violent death of his one contemporary, he is now the last of his species. Although he is physically healthy, Jake is deeply distraught and lonely.

Jake’s depression has carried him to the point where he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means terminating a legend thousands of years old. It would seem to be easy enough for him to end everything. But for very different reasons there are two dangerous groups pursuing him who will stop at nothing to keep him alive.

Here is a powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerising and incredibly sexy. In Jake, Glen Duncan has given us a werewolf for the twenty-first century—a man whose deeds can only be described as monstrous but who is in some magical way deeply human. 

One of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

REVIEW The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe is the story of Connie Goodwin, a Phd student at Harvard university. The story begins with Connie undergoing and passing an oral exam to allow her to go on to work towards her dissertation. This sets up the academic background, and introduces the theme of witchcraft.
                                                                                                                                                          Within a few pages Connie is on her way to Marblehead Massachusetts for the summer to clear out her Grandmother's house which has stood empty since her death twenty years earlier.
What she finds is a house in a bad state of disrepair and completely hidden from the road due to the garden being so overgrown. She finds a garden full of herbs and unusual and potentially harmful plants.

On her first night in the house unable to sleep,  she stumbles across an old family Bible, inside she finds an old key with the name Deliverence Dane inside it. So begins her quest to find out more about this women. At first she has just a slight interest in researching this person. A visit to her Academic Advisor Chilton Manning gives her the push to start researching harder. He encourages her saying it would be great for her career if she could find an undiscovered primary source for her dissertation.

So off she goes to track down Deliverence Dane. In the course of her researching she meets Sam a steeplejack working in a local church, he helps her to research and they quickly become friends.

As Connie searches further she realises that Deliverence Dane left a book or almanac to her daughter back in 1692. We are treated to a series of flashbacks to that time, in which we learn more about Deliverence her life,  her family , as well as the trouble she is in due to being suspected of witchcraft. As well as the journey the book in question has taken.

Connie's advisor becomes more desperate and sinister as her search returns no book or answers. At the same time, her now boyfriend Sam, is involved in an accident at work. His condition turns out to be more serious, and the cause much more sinister than first thought. Connie has to find the book and look to her ancestors and magic for the answers to her problems.

I really enjoyed this book, I enjoyed the flashbacks to Deliverence Dane's time period as well as the modern day story. I particularly liked the cliffhanger endings to some chapters, and the way  the next chapter would begin in the middle of the action. With details being withheld to maintain the sense of drama.  I liked the characters and enjoyed the plot, and the tension really builds towards the end of the novel. I would definitely want to read more by this author.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

In My Mailbox and Mailbox Monday #3

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling tbr piles and humongous wishlists. In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metroreader.

In my maibox is hosted by  The Story Siren.

This week I got four new books.

The First book I got this week was The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages by Sophie Hardach. I heard about this one on Goodreads and purchased it from Amazon. Here is the synopsis from

Swimming for his life towards traffickers on the Italian shore, Selim enters a world where Kurdish refugees disguise themselves as tomatoes, dates of birth are a matter of opinion, and a residency permit is a ticket to paradise. When he ends up in a small town in Germany, Selim believes he is finally safe, until the law catches up with him and the clock starts ticking. Selim realises there is only one way to avoid deportation, if he dare try … 
Fifteen years later, in a town hall in Paris, a Registrar receives an unsettling book in the post. The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages only fuels her suspicions surrounding an impending Kurdish wedding. Unsure how to intervene, she embarks on an investigation that brings her uncomfortably close to an old acquaintance: Selim.
Written with real imaginative flair, heart and humour, The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages introduces an unlikely hero who'll prove impossible to forget, and a prodigious new talent in Sophie Hardach.

The second book this week is The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. I have seen this one featured on various blogs and goodreads and thought it  sounded good. This one also came from Amazon. Here's the synoppsis from

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerising. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

The third book this week isLetters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin. This was kindly given to me by the author in ebook form, so that I could review it. Here is the synopsis from  I should be reading it next!

Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her. 

Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humour.

The fourth and final book this week is Evermore by Alyson Noel.  I have seen this book around quite a bit over the years, but decided to get it this week because it was £1 from a local charity shop. Here is the synopsis from

Sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom is the sole survivor of a car accident that killed her family. Exiled to sunny California. Ever is haunted by her little sister and by the ability to see people's auras, hear their thoughts and know their entire life story by touching them. She wants to hide from the world, but when a stunningly handsome guy arrives at school, she can't seem to keep away. Falling in love with Damen is dangerous - he's not what he seems. But if Damen is her destiny, how can Ever walk away?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

REVIEW The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin

The Nanny Diaries is about a young lady called Nan, who is in her final year of college. To earn a living whilst studying she chooses to do some part time nannying. She quickly becomes the Nanny for four year old Grayer and his parents Mr and Mrs X. 

Although things start out okay with just a few teething problems with Grayer's behaviour, she soon becomes responsible for more than light babysitting duties. Mrs X is soon taking advantage of her good nature and fondness for Grayer.  Mrs X starts treating her as a general dogsbody, running all over New York running errands that have nothing to do with childcare. She soon realises that she is spending more time with Grayer than either of his parents.

Then things take a turn for the worse and the X's start to have marital problems. Nan becomes Grayer's main caregiver spending days and nights on end at the apartment looking after him in the absence of his parents, whilst trying to continue her studies.

Grayer's parents are very selfish and caught up in their own superficial lives. All the poor boy wants is to spend time with his parents.
Things continue to unravel culminating in a trip away where things finally come to head.

I did quite enjoy this book, Grayer was portrayed as a very sweet little boy and the relationship between him and Nan seemed very genuine.  At times I felt sad for Grayer, and angry with the X's and the way they treated Nan and their other staff. 
Nan also has a love interest who lives in the X's building. This is a sideline plot which doesn't really need to be there. I was more interested in Nan and Grayer's story than her love life.
All in all it was good and not quite as lighthearted as I expected.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays. 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too muchaway! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

I am currently reading The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus and Emma Mclaughlin. 
Here is my teaser.

"I roll over for the eighth time in the last fifteen minutes. I'm so tired that my body feels weighted, but every time I'm about to drift off, Grayer's hacking cough echoes through the apartment."