Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review: Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Hi!

I do have a "What I read in July" post coming up next week, but I thought this deserved a review all to itself.


" This woman's lib stuff works for rich girls, but all you've got going for you is your face and your figure. You need to take advantage of both before you lose them"

So says Terry Lawson, uncle of Atlanta Police Officers Jimmy and Maggie Lawson. There's a shooter on the loose - he's targeting cops, and he's not showing signs of slowing down any time soon. When Jimmy's partner gets killed, Maggie (along with new recruit Kate Murphy) steps things up a gear and tries to get some answers - but this does not go down well with the male officers. This book covers the events of one week. Will the shooter be caught, or will there be more casualties first?

Sexism, misogyny, racism, segregation and homophobia are rampant on the streets and in homes. Maggie raises some really valid theories about the killer, but is immediately dismissed and told to shut up. Her Uncle is in control of all the money in the household, and has no problem shutting Maggie up with his fists if he doesn't agree with what she says. The female officers are verbally abused, groped, and taunted by most of the men, and this is all completely expected. They expect the drawing of the penis on the ladies' changing room door every morning. They expect new recruits to be given the wrong size uniforms on purpose. They expect to be hit on, fondled, and groped. They expect to be called sugar, princess, doll, sweetheart. It's just what happens. The male officers do not want the women there, doing a man's job. Black officers and White officers agree only on one thing: that women should not be wearing that uniform.

Never in my life have I been more disgusted or annoyed while reading a book than I was by Terry Lawson in this book. He is vile, absolutely abhorrent. To think that there are men out there like that, with his viewpoint on society and on women (and there are, because I know it still exists) is beyond comprehension. He riled me something rotten, to the point that I was wishing for a bullet with his name on. I HATED him. The amount of adversity and downright bullshit those women had to put up with was unbelievable. They were every bit as intelligent as the males, moreso in some cases, but they were dismissed because of their sex.

The main character in this book for me is Atlanta. As Kate's father in the book says, "There is no one city"  - two people could live in the same city for years and not experience the same things or see the same people or streets. Everything the female officers experience - that won't be experienced by their families or their friends. After reading this, I wanted to get a feel for the place, so I had a search around - album.atlantahistorycenter.com has an amazing collection of photographs. Just type 1975 into the search box and knock yourself out - I lost hours on that website.

The Atlanta Police Department have one of the most sophisticated websites I've seen in a long time. It has a detailed history of the force, as well as a current interactive map where you can zoom in on different zones and crimes committed. It has also finally reached staffing levels promised by a former Mayor - "2,000 by 2,000".

I found a video from 1974 by a Grady High school student about noise pollution - watch it, it will give you a great idea of what the area was like.



Also worth a read is this article from Atlanta News Anchor Monica Pearson, who became the first black person AND the first woman to read the six o'clock news on TV in Atlanta in 1975 (beating out Oprah Winfrey in the process). What she experienced from some viewers is pretty much in line with the book - pulled over by a condescending prick of a cop for no reason, receiving comments from viewers like " Put a bone in your nose and go back to Africa" or "N*gger, get off the air". 

Karin Slaughter herself uploaded a video of an interview with a female police officer in Atlanta in 1975, I think that you should watch it if you're planning on reading Cop Town. It gives such a great insight into the minds of women like Kate and Maggie at the time.



The two main female characters - Maggie and Kate - were brilliant. I feel a little sad that the book is over and I don't get to read any more about them! The story itself was fantastic too. I didn't guess anything and I was in no rush to get to the end. Everything was wrapped up perfectly.

One of the best books I've read in 2014 by far, thank you to the publisher for granting my request to read it on Netgalley.



Blogger Tricks

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Massive Nail Polish Blog Sale.

Hi!

Yesterday I had to face the fact that I have too much nail polish. My addiction got WAY out of hand over the past year - I've bought so many that I haven't even swatched or wanted to swatch. It's been ages since I even enjoyed nail polish, so I'm cutting my stash way, way down and splitting it up. I have some for donation, some to give away, I've kept over 150, and I have decided to sell the rest to try and make some money back after spending hundreds on polish over the past few years. Seriously, you'd swear I was minted. I am not.

I've a huge box of 136 Essence, Catrice, Wet n Wild, Sally Hansen, MUA, etc for sale for €50 for collection in Longford too.

On to the blog sale - here are the rules.



  • I will post to Ireland or the UK no problem.
  • If you are in the U.S or Europe, I could maybe work something out but I'd need to get estimates from An Post, postage will be more expensive. I WILL NOT POST TO ITALY.
  • You are responsible for checking the customs laws for your own country. 
  • All prices in Euro, buyer pays all Paypal charges.
  • As a guideline, postage is €5 for up to 4 polishes within Ireland, or €7 for up to 4 polishes to the UK. I will weigh everything before sending invoice. 
  • If you are buying more than 4 polishes, check with me and I will weigh them and get you an estimate from the An Post website.
  • Payment by Paypal only.
  • I will post within 3 working days of receiving cleared payment.
  • I will hold items for 24 hours after item is requested. After that, the item will be sold to the next person who wants it.
  • Some of these polishes may settle in transit - everything has been checked, some may need a good shake but nothing is gloopy or dried.


All polish was bought by me. Usage is shown in pictures. I accept no responsibility for anything lost or damaged. I will post by regular post, I will keep receipts, but I will not accept returns.

1. Barry M: €2 each. Dusky Mauve and Silver €1.


Magnetic Green Sparkle (unused). Crystal Glaze (unused). Silver (used for nail art a few times). Dusky Mauve (usage shown). Black Multi Glitter (unused). Grey (used once). Silvery Lilac (unused). Raspberry (used once).

Barry M: €2 each. Indigo €1.


Mint Green (used once). Turquoise (unused). Blueberry Ice Cream (used once). Blue Moon (used once). Indigo (usage shown). Berry Ice Cream (used once). Fuchsia (unused). Shocking Pink (unused).

Essence Special Effect Nail Toppers: €2 each. 


Glorious Aquarius (old version), Circus Confetti, Disco Disco, Glorious Aquarius (new version), Only Purple Matters, Glitter on Me, It's Purplicious, Cool Breeze, mrs and mr glitter. Everything swatched once.

Essie: €2 Each.


Carnival, As Gold as it Gets. Both unused.
China Glaze: €2 Each.

Lubu Heels (used once), Let's Groove (unused), Ruby Pumps (used once), Short & Sassy (unused), Howl You Doin' (used once).
China Glaze: €2 Each.


It's a Trap-eze (used once). Razzle Me, Dazzle Me (used once). Pure Joy (used once). Holographic OMG a UFO (used once). 

China Glaze, €2 each. Calypso Blue €1.


Running in Circles (used once). Celtic Sun (used once). Whirled Away (used once). Calypso Blue (usage shown).

China Glaze Minis - 6.5ml. €5 for set of 4. Christmas 2013. Must go as a set.


Be Merry, Be Bright (used once). Your Present Required (used once). Mingle With Kringle (usage shown). Bells Will Be Blinging (used once).

GOSH: Rainbow €4, Ocean €4, Others €2. 

Rainbow (used 2-3 times)PENDING Silver (usage shown). Metallic Purple (usage shown). Ocean (used once). 

BK Glow in the Dark polish: Kitten €1, Others €0.50 each.

All unused. 
Korean Sand Style Polishes. €2 for all 3.

All unused.
Various Korean Brands: Innisfree €1. Tony Moly €2 each. Diana €0.50. Skin Food €2. 
Innisfree & Tony Moly used once. Diana & Skin Food unused. 

Butter London: €5 each.

All Hail the Queen (used once). Henley Regatta (unused).

Nicole by O.P.I: €3 each.

Rainbow in the s-Kylie (unused - dupe for O.P.I Muppets Rainbow Connection). I'm a Belieber (used once). Let's get Star-ted (unused).

Paese: €1 Each.

317 (used once). 141 (used once). 151 (used once).

Rimmel: €1 Each.

Royal Blue (used once). Gold Save the Queen (used once). Aurora (used once). Disco Ball (used once). Baby Bellini (unused). 
Sinful Colors: €1 Each.

Rainstorm (unused). Exotic Green (used once). Last Chance (unused).

Revlon: €1 Each.


Radiant (unused). Emerald City (matte - unused but writing has worn off).

W7: €1 Each.


Salt n Pepper (unused). Mosaic (unused). Lava Flow (used once). Mauve Flakes (unused) PENDING. Burlesque (unused). Night Suede (unused). 
Stargazer: €0.50 Each.


307, Unknown, 157, 133. Usage Shown. 

Various: €3 Each.


O.P.I Die Another Day (unused). Barielle Shannon's Attitude (used once). Orly Embrace (used once).

American Pumpkin Polish: €2 Each or all 4 for €5.


All used once. 
O.P.I Mini Sets: €4.50 per set or all 3 sets for €10. Polishes are 3.5mls each, inner cardboard missing on 2 sets but polish is in perfect condition.

NYC Ballet Minis. All polishes swatched once.

Germany Collection Minis. All Polishes swatched once.

Spider-man minis. All swatched once, blue/red not used. 

So there you go. I'm taking off comment moderation for now, so if you're interested in anything, leave a comment below and PLEASE let me know exactly what you want and where you are so I can get an accurate postage quote for you. First come, first served.




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

International Beauty Swap with two Samanthas!

Hi!

Due to a poor attempt at trying to organise a year's worth of photos on about 3 hours of sleep, I managed to hide several folders on myself about six weeks ago. There's a man somewhere in a nail art office doing a dance, but I have found my review pictures and it is on the way! I have a serious amount of stuff to get up here - I'm going to start with this one, it was a Beauty Swap organized in April by Samantha from She's Looking at the Stars.

I was matched with another Samantha, who blogs over at A Girl and her Soapbox. I can't even remember what I sent her at this point, I think it was some Catrice/Sleek bits & bobs and other little things I picked up along the way. We posted at pretty much the same time, and received our parcels within a few days of each other. The rules stated a maximum of £15/€17/$24, and it was a lot of fun to try and stick to that.

I was very excited to receive this box:


Pink bubble wrap! That excited me far more than was necessary. Inside, there were lovely treats:


EOS Honeysuckle lipbalm - I love this, I had previously owned the mint one and not found it very good until a friend with far more beauty knowledge than I told me that mint can be very drying on the lips. I'm not sure I'd ever have bought another one, so I was delighted to get this. I also got a NYC lip crayon and a Wet n Wild red lipstick.


There was a Maybelline colour show polish, a Maybelline Dream Bouncy blush (I've used this nearly every day since I got it, it's brilliant & so subtle), a Physicians Formula touch-up tool (a bit like a light-reflecting concealer) and a Wet n Wild palette - Comfort Zone. I don't have any Wet n Wild palettes so this was also a really welcome surprise!


Finally, there was a peel-off cucumber face mask (it's like the woman knows me - I have used this twice already and the picking was GLORIOUS) - and some coconut oil spray for hair which I really like too.

A little bit more about the Comfort Zone palette - if you don't have this, you need it. Seriously. I don't even know if it's available on stand in Ireland, but just take a look at it - I can't do swatches any justice at the minute because I've got a headcold and have the energy of a sloth, but have a look at the ever-reliable Christine's review on Temptalia. Beee-ay-youtiful. That definer on the right - it's stunning.


I loved what Samantha picked for me, and I was really delighted with the swap. Thanks so much to the two Samanthas, I would definitely participate in another International swap.





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Booktube-a-thon 2014: Results!

Hi!

Now, firstly, I don't want this to come across as a "look at me, I'm great, look how much I can read in a week" type thing. When I go into reading mode, as I call it, I literally spend every spare second reading. Always have done, I used to pull all-nighters with a pile of library books when I was a child. So seriously, it's just the way I do it - I'm not trying to one-up anyone. I'm genuinely just a fast reader & I just really love talking books!

So - you may remember in my last post, I talked about Booktube-a-thon 2014. It ran from July 14th-21st, and it was an epic collaboration between several booktubers, bloggers and readers all over the world. Everyone involved did an amazing job, and I even got to take part in a few twitter sprints when the boys took their afternoon nap. The sprints were really fun, they had challenges like "read for 15 minutes and find a weapon in your story" or "you're getting hungry, list all the food you find over the next 10 minutes" - it was great to feel like part of a community with other people all reading at the same time from many different parts of the world.

Here's a quick recap of the challenges:

  • Read a book and watch the film adaptation. DONE
  • Read a book with the colour red on the cover. DONE
  • Read a book chosen by someone else. DONE
  • Start and finish a series. DONE
  • Read a book with pictures. DONE
  • Read a book from the genre you've read least from this year. DONE
  • Read 7 books and/or 300 pages a day. DONE


As Chloe mentioned in her results post, I think this really proved just how much you can read if you put your mind to it. I've had books on my TBR (to be read) list for years - I could easily scratch some of them off the list if I wanted to do this again. It was definitely intense - I didn't watch any TV all week (not that I missed it) and I read when the boys were napping or while I was giving them bottles. I had a few 5am starts so that definitely helped to get more reading in! I'm totally burnt out after it though, the leg even fell off my glasses on Monday morning (genuinely, just plopped off) so I won't be doing the whole book-a-day thing again any time soon. Here's what I read:

Monday: I read "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman and started "Where She Went" by the same author.
Tuesday: I finished "Where She Went" (completing the series challenge) and read "Rosemary's Baby" by Ira Levin (half of the book/movie challenge). I started "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell that night (red on the cover).
Wednesday: I finished "Fangirl" and read the first few chapters of "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" by Cat Winters (a book with pictures included).
Thursday: I finished "In the Shadow of Blackbirds", read "Bossypants" by Tina Fey (least-read genre) and started "Butter" by Erin Jade Lange (chosen by someone else).
Friday: I finished "Butter", thus completing all the reading challenges for Booktube-a-thon!

I really, really enjoyed "Butter", "Fangirl" and "Rosemary's Baby". I liked "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" a lot, it was a nice unique little book and the photographs were great. I did like "If I Stay", but I didn't like "Where She Went" as much. I was most disappointed by "Bossypants" - but I think I'd built it up in my head to be this amazingly unputdownable laugh-a-mintue read, and it wasn't. I really enjoyed the last 40-50 pages of it, but I found some of the TV sections boring. I'd wager that's because I've never seen the shows nor have I any interest in them, but for fans of Tina's TV work I can see how it would be really enjoyable. She definitely doesn't hold back on behind-the-scenes information like some celebrities (coughMelissaJoanHartcough). I was so happy to have finished the challenges this year because I missed out on the entire Booktube-a-thon last year and I was raging.

I had a few Netgalley requests granted, and I had a new book pre-ordered on Amazon that arrived on my Kindle at midnight on Saturday, so I kept reading.

From Friday to Sunday, I also read:


Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris - I tried to read this before I knew anything about David Sedaris and I didn't get it at all. I saw it on my reader and it was really short, so I read it and knocked a good laugh out of it, as with all of Sedaris' work. I think there are collections of Christmas stories marketed under the same name, but mine is the one with the cover above and only has the short stories about his time as a 33 year old Macy's Christmas Elf.

Tape by Steven Camden - This was a request granted on Netgalley. The idea was so good - a 13 year old girl moves in with her Grandmother after her parents die. While rooting around the spare room, she finds a tape. Back in 1993, Ryan records a tape about things that are happening in his life. How are they connected? The one thing that annoyed me the most about this book was the lack of quotation marks to show dialogue. A phone conversation is written like this: - Hello. No. What do you mean she wasn't there. Was she there. Are you kidding me. Are you messing with me. Yes. Okay. See you tomorrow. (not actual dialogue, but you get the idea). Conversations are like this (also not actual dialogue):
Ameliah walked into the kitchen. Her Grandmother was chopping carrots.
- Hello dear, are you hungry?
- Not really.
- Did you eat?
- No.
- You must be hungry.
- I said, I'm not.
- What are your plans for tonight?
- No plans.
I found it incredibly hard to read and hard to follow. My heart broke when I got to the end (seriously, when I didn't fling this at the wall at 58% it's a miracle) and read that the author had been dreaming about this story since he was 10 - it must be a dream come true for him but my god, it was a chore to read. I do hope younger teenagers enjoy it.

The Rain by Virginia Bergin
This is a YA (young adult) novel. It's a genre that I've been getting into more & more lately, the writing is generally so good and the genre has come a hell of a long way since the nineties. I requested this on Netgalley but got turned down - I really, really wanted to read it so I pre-ordered it on Amazon and it arrived at midnight on the release date. Ruby Morris is a typical 15 year old teenager - loves her phone, her friends, tea, doesn't really like her Stepdad, whinges a bit, and has a massive crush on a boy at school. She has just locked lips with said boy at a party when it starts to rain - and the parents of the party-thrower freak out. All the guests are rushed inside, because this is no ordinary rainshower - it's a national emergency. One drop of this rain will kill you within 3 hours, in a grotesque and painful way. Ruby is a brilliant heroine, because she's real! She doesn't automatically turn into a brave Superhero. She bitches and whinges and moans about the inconvenience of the killer rain and the fact that she has to use a bucket as a toilet. There are hilariously funny moments - like her reasoning behind looting a shop - but also some very touching ones, like the scenes with Simon, her Stepdad. It's a brilliant book and one that demonstrates how worthy the Young Adult genre is of its increasing popularity among older readers.

I watched the movie version of Rosemary's Baby on Sunday - as I predicted, I found it much harder to find time to sit and watch a movie than I did to read! The movie stayed very true to the book, there were only minor differences and I enjoyed watching it. I will track down more of the same genre.

So there it is - over for another year! I loved every second of it, and I look forward to Booktube-a-thon 2015. Thanks so much to Ariel and all involved for making it such a fun experience.

I'll leave you with one last picture - the definition of WINNING at a car boot sale. €3 for all these - I nearly took hand and all off her.



Please check out the blogs below to see how some other Irish bloggers got on! If you took part, please link me so I can add you.

Chloe
Breige
Róisín



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Booktube-a-thon 2014 TBR List!

Hi!

I'm so excited, the Booktube-a-thon 2014 starts TONIGHT. That's just over 12 hours until it all kicks off - wherever you are in the world, it starts on the stroke of midnight your time (when the 13th becomes the 14th) and ends next Sunday night (when the 20th becomes the 21st). I don't know if I'll be able to do much reading tonight, but I've definitely got my game face on for the next week (this all depends entirely on my babies, I may not even finish one book - but I'm going to give it my best shot!!).

If you want to take part, get yourself over to the official Booktube-a-thon 2014 channel, hosted at the moment by organizer Ariel Bissett, but with different guest hosts all week. If you do videos, there are challenges you can take part in specifically for booktubers or avid readers with a youtube channel. For the rest of us, there are challenges and twitter sprints - the sprints this year are going to be 12 hours apart, and they're little bursts where everyone participating in the Booktube-a-thon gets together on twitter at set times and reads as much as they can. For those of us in GMT, the sprints are from 3am-7am (not a hope) and 3pm-7pm(totally depends on the twins). You can find the booktube-a-thon twitter here.

This year, The Book Depository have also gotten involved. They're offering a 10% discount when you use the code BookTubeAThon on this list of 100 books chosen by booktubers.

On to the reading challenges and my TBR list!

The Challenges

Start and Finish a series. This can be a series of 2,3,5, 10 books - go wild.
Read a book with pictures. This can be a graphic novel or any book with photographs in it.
Read a book with red on the cover. As long as it has something red on the cover, it counts.
Read a book someone else has picked for you.
Read a book from the genre you've read least this year.
Read a book that's been adapted into a movie, AND watch the movie.
Read 7 books and/or 300 pages a day.

You can double up on the challenges (for example reading a graphic novel with red on the cover completes two challenges) but you can't use the same book for more than two challenges.

I really wanted to pick books from my ever-growing TBR (to be read) list, so here's what I picked.


Read a book and watch the movie: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. I've never read this, and I've never seen the movie - I've wanted to read the book since I saw Chloe's review, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Read a book from the genre you've read least this year: Bossypants by Tina Fey. I haven't read any biographies yet this year, and it's a genre I really enjoy. I've been meaning to read this for ages, so I can finally get into it.

Read a book someone else has picked for you: I have a list of books I own but haven't read in my notebook, so I tweeted out for one of my twitter followers to pick a number. 11 was the first reply, and #11 on my list is Butter by Erin Jade Lange. (thanks Liloo!)

Read a book with pictures in it: I was going to pick the second Miss Peregrine book but I don't have it yet, and I really wanted to avoid buying books specifically for this challenge. I had a look through my reader and found this one, In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

Read a book with red on the cover: For this, I picked Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, because I really, really want to read it. Even if the writing is more pink, that guy there has red on his shirt. RED. Done.

Start and finish a series: With the exception of Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, I have never finished a trilogy in under a week, never mind try and read 4 others as well. I want to try my best to complete the challenges so I picked a series with two books, Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went.

I think they're all pretty realistic aims, the 7 books just have 2,111 pages in total (according to Goodreads stats - yes, I added them all up) which is just about 300 pages a day. I mainly read at night so it should be fairly do-able. To be honest, getting time to watch the movie will be more challenging than the reading!!

I know that Breige, Róisín and Chloe are also taking part. I'm not aware of any other Irish or UK bloggers who are getting involved, so please do let me know if you're planning on taking part!

I really wish this was around when I was a teenager and had the energy for book all-nighters. Even the thoughts of trying to stay up until midnight to start this on time has me yearning for a disco nap. You young 'uns don't know how lucky you are! Now, where are my slippers?





Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bargain Lipstick from Essence

Hi!

I haven't had a proper look at an Essence stand in a long time (mainly because I'm trying to avoid the money pit that calls itself Penneys) but I did pop in for some nail polish remover a few weeks ago and these caught my eye.


I love a good neutral lipstick, I can't carry bright colours off at all. These babies have been out a while, but I hadn't seen them. They feel lovely on, and they last as long as any other brand I've ever tried, including MAC.

Here's a look at them on my mush.




#7 (Natural Beauty) is a really nice "my lips but better" shade. #13 (Love Me) has a hint of peachy coral and is really nice for this time of year. I know they look pretty similar there but you can tell the difference straight away when you look at the whole face (don't know what face I'm pulling in this first photo, that is NOT going extra large) - Here's #7:


And #13:

#13 hasn't been off my lips since I got it, and I'll definitely be picking up some more of this range the next time I need socks. Or a scarf. Or a bag. Or shoes. Or teatowels.

I lost my receipt but according to the good folks over at Essence Ireland, the lipsticks retail at €2.49 each.





Sunday, July 6, 2014

Books I read in May/June and Booktube-a-thon 2014

Hi!

In my last book round-up, I covered everything I'd read from April up to Mid-May. In this post, I'll cover everything I read from mid-May to the end of June, and that should get me back on track so I can post a round-up once a month.

As usual, all images are either Goodreads or Amazon. If you want to join me on Goodreads and follow my reviews (I try to review every book I read) you can add me here.


The Wronged Sons by John Marrs
The Wronged Sons is a thriller about a man who walks out on his family, with the intention of committing suicide. His wife, Catherine, has to deal with the disappearance of Simon, slowly sinking to rock bottom and building herself back up again. 25 years later, Simon knocks on her front door. Where has he been? Why did he leave? Why is he back?! The book jumps back & forth to reveal a tragic, heartbreaking, (and at times hard to read) story about the long-term effects of a misunderstanding. I'd recommend this book to fans of Gillian Flynn or Alex Marwood.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
I first read this as a teenager, but if it's possible I think it's even more relevant today. It's not a huge book, you could read it in a few hours, but it covers the mass hysteria and suspicion in a small community at the time of the Salem witch trials. The motivation behind some of the accusations was pure and simple - greed. It's a fascinating look at society - but please avoid the Winona Ryder/Daniel Day Lewis movie version. Muck.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn by Tilly Tennant
Holden Finn is the equivalent of Harry Styles - member of a popular boyband, idolised by thousands - including single Mum-of-teen-terror, Bonnie. Bonnie writes letters to Holden that she never sends - but what would happen if she got to meet him? This sounds like absolute drivel but I promise you, stick with it, it's not saccharin sweet or twee at all. It's possibly my favourite light-hearted read so far of 2014, perfect for a curl up on the couch. It's nice to find a romance novel that isn't full of cliches, and this was such a unique take on the genre.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I'd heard about this book several times but never bothered to pick it up. I definitely missed out - it's amazing, it completely sucked me in and made me cry. I read it without spoilers, so that's how I'm going to leave it.


The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
I read these one after another - I think I definitely would have lost interest had I had to wait for each subsequent one to be released. The series has inevitably drawn comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I enjoyed both series. Tris is really likeable and gutsy. The book from Four's point of view (the last one) changed my opinion of him a bit - he wasn't nearly as strong or admirable as I had first thought, but it made me like Tris even more. I don't think I'll bother with the movies, but it's a good series and it's one I'd recommend if you like a little dystopia with your ass-kicking.


Alice Peterson - Ten Years On
I thought I'd give some more romances a go after an overdose of Crime, Sci-Fi and Dystopia - I could have picked a better one, to be honest. It's not that it's particularly bad, it was just a bit predictable. The male character also wasn't particularly likeable, and the female character went through an enormous amount of emotional distress and upheaval without one mention of any kind of counselling or help. It smacked a little bit of "the love of a man cures all" kinda thing, which I don't like. There was one avenue that I thought was going to make for a brilliantly different book - but the author didn't follow it up at all, which I was disappointed about. It'd be grand if you were stuck on a bus or a train, but I wouldn't bother with it otherwise.

April's Fool by Blanche Marriott
Why is it when you pick one mediocre book, others seem to come out of the sky like flies? This book.............I'll write what I've written in my reading journal (which is this one, by the way - brilliant for keeping track of books). April works in the web divison of a big corporate firm. Michael is the boss, or soon will be. April is so insecure with the fact that she's not married that she takes a load of photos of Michael at an event and photoshops herself into them, turns it all into a big wedding album to show her friends, brings it to a restaurant where all friends coo over her wonderful new husband and her perfect life, when......*Eastenders dum-dum-dums*......April LEAVES the book in the restaurant, one of the waitresses recognises Mr. thingamibob, drops it off at his office, he gets all "Me Tarzan, you Bitch" and annoyed and stomps down to April's office banging his chest like a drum (okay not really) saying (direct quote) - "We'll see what Miss Curly Hair has to say about this" but when he sees how goooorgeous she is in real life, his willy starts bothering him so he doesn't say anything. And that, my friends, is where I decided life is too short, and deleted it.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
I came across this by pure chance while browsing Netgalley - it's not normally the kind of book I'd go for, but I was glad I did because it's right up there with my 2014 favourites so far. Melanie is a ten-year-old girl, who lives at a base with lots of other ten-year-olds somewhere in England (a very different England, half the country has been wiped out by some major catastrophic event). Miss Justineau teaches the children English literature - Greek Myths and Legends are Melanie's favourite. Melanie loves her teacher. The base is also home to scientist Caroline Caldwell, who keeps coming for some of the children. Those children don't come back. One day, she comes for Melanie. Read. It.

Gracefully Insane by Alex Beam
This is an account of the rise and fall of McLean Mental Hospital in Massachusetts. McLean was once home to "famous" residents like Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen - Susanna's book Girl, Interrupted was written about her time at the hospital. It's an interesting premise, and there are some really good anecdotes, but for the most part it's a bit rambly, a bit disjointed and at times suffers from a personality disorder itself. Is it a story about the actual hospital, or a collection of patient accounts? It's a total mish-mash, and jumps around a lot. If you can put up with that, some waffle about Freud and some mind-numbingly boring financial stuff shoved in here and there, it's a nice insight into the place that was once the "dumping ground" for wealthy families to ditch an eccentric relative.


Little Hands Clapping by Dan Rhodes
This popped up as a Goodreads recommendation, and the cover caught my eye. If Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and Jane Goldman all had a big hooley on Halloween night, this would be the result. Set in a Suicide Museum (the owner wanted to discourage people from committing suicide but is unaware that it's having the opposite effect) ran by a creepy old man who hates people and is only in the job because he gets free cake, the museum is a hotspot for troubled souls. The old man has an arrangement with the local Doctor ("he had moved to the city ten years later, bringing with him a black Labrador called Hans and a heart-stopping tale of tragedy") to "dispose" of any victims in a rather unique and sick way. Throw in a Chief Wiggum-esque cop who really wants his big break, a dog who inadvertently throws the whole can of worms open (or up, actually), a couple of intertwined tales of love and loss, and you end up with an amazing little book. I don't know how he managed it, but it left me with the warm and fuzzies at the end. Which is ludicrous, given the subject matter, but true. Dan Rhodes - to quote Britney - you're on my radar.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
The first of a projected trilogy, Mr. Mercedes is Stephen King's first old-school cop thriller. There's still a healthy dose of King in there, but this isn't a horror. Detective William Hodges has taken retirement and is toying with the idea of putting a gun in his mouth, until a letter comes through the door from the "Mercedes Killer" - a criminal Hodges wasn't able to nail down before retiring. Hodges takes it upon himself to catch this guy once and for all - and it makes for an epic thriller, one I couldn't put down. I loved the Lethal Weapon-style comradery (I refuse to use the word 'banter') between Hodges and Jerome, and I grew to like Holly by the end. I pictured Holly as the actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, in case anyone's wondering. Doubtful, but I thought I'd pop that in there anyway.

Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinéad Crowley
Sinéad is RTE's Arts Correspondant, and this is her debut novel. Yvonne is a young Mum, recently having moved to Ireland because of her husband's demanding job. Bored and a bit lonely, she joins a parenting forum and chats to other Mums. When a young mother turns up dead, Yvonne is certain that she knows the woman from the forum. Can she convince Detective Sergeant Claire Boyle that the dead woman is her pal, and will she do it before someone else becomes a victim? A cautionary tale about how much information you can share online without even realising it - and one of the main reasons you'll not be seeing any more baba pictures on my blog or twitter. There are lots of weirdos out there, and not all of them are technophobic oddballs. They're among us right now, fellow oversharers. The *only* thing I didn't like about this - and it's minor - is the line on the cover that tells us there's a "shocker of a twist". I spent half the book trying to predict the twist, and I irritated myself. Apart from that, I'm looking forward to more of Sinéad's work.


Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This is only my second foray into Sedaris' work, and while I didn't enjoy it as much as Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, it did still make me laugh. A lot. As the title suggests, this book focuses on tales related to conversation or speech. Particular highlights include trying to learn French after living in France for a while: "I went from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. 'Is them the thoughts of cows?' I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains on display in the front window." If you listen to this on an audiobook, you'll get a kick out of his Billie Holliday impression - it's uncanny, and very, very funny.

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
I don't have much luck with prize-winning books. Which is why I'm really glad I only found out after I'd read it, that this was a winner at the 2013 Costa Book Awards. The digital edition I had was the one with the special font changes, and that really adds something to the story. The story itself is a very frank, honest, and at times tragic, account of a man's descent into mental illness after a horrible accident. I couldn't put this one down at all, it will stay with me for a long time. Another favourite of 2014 so far.

The Haunting of Harriet by Jennifer Button
This was.....meh. Harriet is a ghost, which is pretty evident by the title and the first few pages, yet Harriet doesn't know it - I call BS, because a family moved into her house and didn't speak to her, so there's no way she couldn't have known. That's not even the story - Liz (the new owner along with her blah husband Edward) starts acting strangely and gets all freaked out about some old boathouse. Harriet tells the story of what went on in times past.......and lo and behold, it almost happens all over again. This book went on far too long, it was really muddled, and it was a bit of a chore to finish. I found Harriet's parents much more interesting than dreary Liz & Edward, and I wish that we'd had more tales of her mother instead of the blunt ending to that part of the story. At times the language was overly flowery too, it reminded me of the episode of Friends where Joey changed every single word in his letter using a thesaurus.  I'm on the lookout for a really good ghost fiction book, so if you have any recommendations in that genre, please do let me know.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Like a lot of people, I'd never heard of Gillian Flynn before Gone Girl, which I enjoyed. This, in my humble opinion, is a far superior book. Newspaper reporter Camille Preaker (who I was certain was a man for the first few pages) is sent to her hometown to cover the story of a missing child. The previous summer, a child was murdered - is there a serial killer at large, or is it a copycat? Camille's hometown holds a lot of painful memories for her, memories that have contributed to years of self-harm and subsequent rehabilitation. As she gets closer to finding out the truth about what's happening in the town, is she putting her own health and life at risk? She also has to deal with a bratty, jealous, troublesome stepsister and a mother who makes no secret of the fact that she doesn't want Camille home. At times difficult to read, but a brilliant, heart-pounding thriller.

And breathe. I know that these book posts make me look like I do nothing but sit on my arse all day reading, but I promise I do actually cook, clean and look after the children! I read quick, I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, and I squish in a few chapters at any opportunity when I'm in full-on reading mode.

Booktube-a-thon 2014 is almost here!
For fellow readers, there's something very exciting coming up. I missed the Booktube-a-thon last year because I was very pregnant and very flustered, but I'm looking forward to participating this year (Chloe and Breige have some great posts about last years). It runs from July 14th-21st. For those who don't know, it's a week-long intensive reading marathon organised by Booktuber Ariel Bissett.  There will be challenges, daily goals, videos and other cool stuff - keep an eye on the official Booktube-a-thon twitter for details, they should be revealed over the next day or two.

I'm nearly afraid to ask, because with the addition of a Kindle Fire to my collection of gadgets, I now have two devices full of books to read in addition to a pile on top of the wardrobe - but any recommendations for me? Especially anything ghosty! If you're doing booktube-a-thon please let me know so I can add your link when I post about what I'm reading for it.