Sunday, 29 June 2014

Typewritten no.2: It's about that time

 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn



What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren't his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife? And what was in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war... (via Goodreads)

Gone Girl has been on my radar ever since I saw Gillian Flynn interviewed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last year. But, despite its acclaim, I was left rather disappointed.

It started off well. I read the first page and was immediately sucked in to the action the fast pace, vivid descriptions and mysterious characters kept the book firmly open in my hands. I couldn't wait to find out what was going on and where all the questions would lead.

Unfortunately, though, things went downhill after the first few chapters. The plot started getting repetitive, with the characters going over the same clues multiple times. It had me wondering how long it would take to actually go anywhere.

But a major, very unexpected plot twist saved Gone Girl halfway through, and that kept me interested for a while. Eventually, however, the twist also became stale and I was once again bored. And then there was the ending which, to me, was a complete anti-climax.

Not to mention the two main characters, Nick and Amy, who are fantastically developed but almost completely unlikeable. I can't say more without giving too much away but, to be honest, the polarising aspects of their personalities are pretty much what make the book. Who would be getting their just-desserts?

I'll still see the film version of Gone Girl which comes out this autumn, though it will be interesting to see how they treat that ending. Altogether, a disappointing and somewhat frustrating, though also intriguing, read.

Rating: 3 / 5

Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss



Hilary Mantel meets Sylvia Day: the first installment in a deliciously erotic trilogy, set against the sumptuous backdrop of the scandal-ridden Tudor Court.

England, 1536
Bound to him against her will...
Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII's court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.

Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who - though she is loath to admit it - frightens her not a little.

Then comes that first kiss...
It awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees first-hand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives.

Dare she surrender her body and her heart? (via Goodreads)

Last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Moss about her critically acclaimed novel Wolf Bride, so I was excited to finally read it. For the most part I had a positive reading experience, though there were some aspects which I found more appealing than others.

The plot wastes no time in getting started, with the first scene in the book introducing the wanton Queen Anne Boleyn. I certainly appreciated this introduction, as when I'm reading erotica, I prefer not to wait too long for the action! This also set up the premise of the novel very well as the latter parts of it centre around the Queen's demise.

The novel also illustrates the time period well, whilst also incorporating a bit of a modern twist. I found it interesting to encounter all these historical places and people within a piece of fiction.

Unfortunately, though, I didn't feel a big connection to the characters. While I appreciated Eloise (a headstrong, determined young woman), and Lord Wolf (definitely the most interesting character of them all he is enigmatic, loyal, and unpredictable), I don't feel that they're characters I'll remember in a few month's time. They just didn't leave all that big of an impression on me.

But despite the few issues I had with Wolf Bride, I'm still looking forward to reading the second book in the series. Overall this was an exciting, albeit imperfect, read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Meeting Karl Pilkington

On November 23rd last year, I was lucky enough to meet one of my absolute favourite people: Karl Pilkington! He was at Waterstones' flagship store in London signing copies of his latest book, The Moaning of Life, which accompanies the TV series of the same name.

It took a 6am start, almost two hours on the train and a gruelling three hour wait outside the bookshop in a line consisting of at least five-hundred people, but it was all definitely worth it for the minute or so that I had with the man himself.

And I can happily say that he is exactly the same in person as he is on the TV (perhaps even nicer)! He was also very engaging and took his time to have a mini-conversation with me about the epic photograph that's on the back of his book. Here's a picture of us discussing it:

He's smiling! I made Karl smile! YAY me!

Here's another photo of us together, which also features this little red gift bag that I'd brought for him. His reaction was, 'Oh, what is it? I hate surprises.' Yup, I had my very own classic Karl moment! He was amused, slightly, when he saw that it enclosed teabags (what can I say? The man enjoys his tea!)


Finally, the signature he left inside my copy of The Moaning of Life. This will have pride of place on my bookshelf for a long time to come!


I'm so happy that I finally got to meet Karl and experience, first-hand, his unique personality. As he would say himself, 'yeah, was alright, wa'n't it?'

Have you met any of your favourite famous people? 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review: The Tudor Conspiracy by Christopher Gortner


1553: Harsh winter falls across the realm. Mary Tudor has become queen and her enemies are imprisoned in the Tower, but rumours of a plot to depose her swirl around the one person many consider to be England's heir and only hope-- her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth.

Brendan Prescott's foe and mentor, the spymaster Cecil, brings news that sends Brendan back to London on a dangerous mission. Intent upon trying to save Elizabeth, he soon finds himself working as a double-agent for Mary herself.

Plunged into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a shadowy opponent who hides a terrifying secret, Brendan races against time to retrieve a cache of the princess's private letters, even as he begins to realize that in this dark world of betrayal and deceit - where power is supreme and sister can turn against sister - nobody can be trusted. (via Hodder.co.uk)

Though The Tudor Conspiracy is the second book in the Elizabeth's Spymaster series, it also works as a standalone novel. So, as I'd not read its predecessor, The Tudor Secret, this served as my introduction to Brendan Prescott and the world he navigates.

From the wonderful descriptions to the three-dimensional characters, The Tudor Conspiracy is an enjoyable read. The atmosphere Gortner creates is very evocative, and I found myself easily transported back to 1553 and its vast unpredictability under the rule of Queen Mary I. It also helped that the novel is set during winter, thus making it a fitting companion during these cold, grey days we're currently experiencing here in England!

I enjoyed the characters; especially Brendan (who serves as narrator for the story) and Peregrine. But though the background of each character is fully explained through the plot, I did feel as if I came in at a bit of a disadvantage not having read The Tudor Secret. Perhaps I would have felt more of an attachment to the characters had I started the series from the very beginning (which I may still go back and do)?

Overall, The Tudor Conspiracy is a suspenseful, fast-paced read with some exciting twists. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to Brendan in the next novel!

Rating: 4 / 5

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy 2014!

Though I've had much less time to blog this year, it hasn't been a bad 2013. I've started an interesting job, met some fabulous new people in a variety of ways (including Karl Pilkington at a book signing more on that in January), read some amazing books, and encountered some wonderful authors (and adjectives to go along with them!).

I hope 2014 continues for me in the same manner, though I do hope I'll produce more posts! Only time will tell. But, for now, a massive thank you to all my followers and visitors for reading this little blog.

Happy New Year! I hope it's a great one for all of you.

See you on the other side...

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Review: The Girl Behind the Curtain by Stella Knightley [Hidden Women trilogy, book 3]

Warning: There are spoilers beyond this point for anyone who hasn't read the Hidden Women trilogy (check out my reviews for the first two books).

Sarah Thomson and Marco Donato's complicated love affair continues - their passion is a deep one but both have been badly hurt before and are wary of exposing their vulnerabilities to the other.

Meanwhile, Sarah begins to research a new subject . . .

In Nineteen-Thirties Germany, Katherine Hazleton escapes her stuffy finishing school and runs away to Berlin in pursuit of an unsuitable man. Alone and penniless when her boyfriend deserts her, she is forced to become a hostess at a cabaret bar. There she reinvents herself as Kitty Katkin. Writing her own songs to accompany her risque dance routines, Kitty is soon a sensation. She is in love with Berlin and her handsome musician lover, Otto. But Germany is about to change.

Will Kitty and Sarah find the love they truly deserve? (via Hodder.co.uk)

So, this is it. The last book in Stella Knightley's Hidden Women trilogy and, I must say, it went far beyond my expectations.

The Girl Behind the Curtain continues the same structure, with Sarah's story running alongside that of a historical research subject this time the fun, brave, and lovable Kitty. There are less sex scenes here than in the previous novels, but I found this to be very fitting of the plot's development and underlying message. Anything more would have seemed gratuitous.

And though I'm sad that such a fabulous story has ended, I absolutely loved its conclusion. I stayed up for hours one night to finish the book because I was dying to find out the truth behind each mystery; including what becomes of Kitty and Otto's relationship and, of course, whether Sarah and Marco are finally able to make it work.

Altogether, The Girl Behind the Curtain is a sweet, emotional, and atmospheric conclusion to an inspiring trilogy, and reveals a powerful message about the true value of love. I cannot recommend it enough!

Rating: 5 / 5

Monday, 9 December 2013

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth [Divergent Trilogy, book 3]

Warning: Don't read this review if you haven't read the first two books in the Divergent series beforehand!

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. (via Goodreads)

I loved the first two books in the Divergent series, and I'd been counting down until the release of Allegiant – the final book in Veronica Roth’s bestselling dystopian trilogy. Unfortunately, however, I was disappointed.

It’s hard to explain why without giving too much away, but I found that Allegiant had a completely different tone to its predecessors. It was in fact so different, and so unsatisfying, that I truly struggled with the first 80% of the novel. I found the events boring, frustrating, and far too removed from the dystopian society which I'd come to know and love.

By the time Allegiant reached its climax, I’d developed a sort of indifference to everything that was going on, and I even found it difficult to remember why I had loved the characters so much in the previous instalments. It felt as if my reactions had been watered down, and all I could think was, ‘huh’, although I really wanted to care more. I even met that controversial bit which has many Divergent fans throwing tear drenched tissues into bins and cursing at Veronica Roth with a surprising degree of apathy.

So, overall, I found Allegiant to be an anticlimactic end to an otherwise superb series. At some point, I might go back and read all three books simultaneously, just to see if it makes a difference. For now, though, this will have to do.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Interview with Allison Rushby – author of the Living Blond trilogy + a giveaway

It's wonderful to welcome Allison Rushby back to the blog, who's here to talk about her new young
adult series, the Living Blond trilogy, which is available to buy now at Amazon. You can find its blurb at the bottom of the interview, along with a giveaway to win 1 of 20 'We Love Marilyn Monroe/Marilynette' wristbands.

~

The Living Blond trilogy centres around Nessa, a teen who is obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. What inspired you to write the series based around one of film’s most iconic leading ladies?
Nessa had a bit of a funny start in life as a character. I was house-sitting for a friend, who told me to peep inside her housemate's room one day (she was also away at the time). When I did this, I couldn't believe my eyes. All over the room were huge glamour portraits of the housemate dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. Apparently she had quite the Marilyn obsession, as the portraits demonstrated. I wondered about this for years afterwards – I couldn't stop thinking about how a young person could be so obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, a star long dead. This is how Nessa evolved – I took that character trait to an even younger, stranger place. Imagine a thirteen-year-old with a Marilyn obsession – how strange would that be? What would people make of it? What would her parents do about it if it got out of control? And that was how Nessa came to be. It was interesting to stay with her over three books and watch her grow and her obsession slowly fade, with her eventually handing the torch over to a new Marilyn fan by the end of the third book.

Tell us about trilogy’s leading lady, Nessa. What do you hope readers will enjoy about her personality?
I really hope readers will love her overactive imagination and crazy ability to see what might not be there (okay, is definitely not there, but is way more entertaining).

Like your previous release, Shooting Stars, The Living Blond trilogy has been written for the young adult audience. What do you find most appealing about writing for this demographic? Do you see yourself writing for an older audience in future?
I actually started out writing for adults (my first chick-lit novel came out in 2000) and moved towards writing for young adults after that as I found I simply enjoyed it so much. It's just such a great time of life – very heady and self-involved (in a good way!) when anything and everything is possible. I really love the immediacy of YA and the fact that characters tend to act on their true emotions.

Now to get personal: what’s your favourite Marilyn Monroe movie?
It has to be Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for its amazing lines. Like Lorelei Lee's line, 'Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You might not marry a girl just because she's pretty, but, my goodness, Doesn't it help?'

Lastly, what other projects do you currently have in the works and where can we keep up to date?
In 2014, I'll be releasing two other YA books – Blondtourage and Being Hartley. Readers can always keep up-to-date at http://www.allisonrushby.com, on Twitter, or on Goodreads.

~


 Blurb
Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe's No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she's relocating in movie-star style—crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn't for the fact that she's bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride (Dad's specialization: human mating rituals—need Nessa say more?). Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that's five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles—star of stage and screen. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa's favorite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

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International giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter form to win one of these very cute 'We Love Marilyn Monroe/Marilynette' wristbands!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Enter to win Karl Pilkington & The Moaning of Life goodies [UK only]

If you're in the UK and happen to be a fan of Karl Pilkington, you'll love this competition where you can win a bunch of amazing Moaning of Life prizes!

Check out the details here:
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If the approaching end of Karl Pilkington’s TV series The Moaning of Life is set to send you into a spiral of withdrawal, worry not as the book to accompany the show is out now. And, to coincide with the launch of the DVD, a new competition has launched where three lucky winners will each receive:
  • a SIGNED copy of the book
  • a SIGNED illustration from the book
  • a copy of the DVD. 
Plus, five runner-ups will each receive a copy of the book. Does life get any better, Karl Pilkington fans?!

To enter, simply look at the photo below and then e-mail marketing@canongate.co.uk with Karl Pilkington in the subject line, telling us what you think Karl is saying in the picture:


The funniest entries win. The competition closes on Monday 2 December and the lucky winners will be chosen at random by Canongate. 

Don’t forget to follow @welovemoaning on Twitter for all the latest updates on Karl Pilkington’s Moaning of Life book.

Good luck, everyone!