Saturday, 22 September 2012

Review: 666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch . . . literally?

Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can't believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York.

But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan's most feared and revered families, Jane's fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world—and herself—is upended. Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them. (via Goodreads)

I wanted to read 666 Park Avenue because I'd heard that a TV series based on the book was being made, and Terry O’Quinn from Lost had been cast as one of the characters. Plus, these days, I’m all for reading the book before seeing the on-screen adaptation. But that’s just not going to be possible with this one for the moment. I'm not even halfway through!

It's the composition that lets 666 down the most. The actual storyline is pretty good, which is probably why it got picked up to be a television series, but the way it's told is very much lacking. I get the sense that the Pierce was aiming for some witty, semi fairy-tale feel, but she has disappointingly missed the mark.

At 40% through the book, I should care enough for the characters to move on, but I don’t. It’s taking too long and the writing style is just frustrating. I might try to read more of 666 Park Avenue when I’m in a more patient mood, but I’m sick of waiting for the story to pick up pace and evolve. Perhaps the TV series will encourage me to have another go?

Rating: None, as reading wasn’t completed.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Michael Palin and Karl Pilkington talk books!

If you've seen Karl Pilkington's hilarious travel programme, An Idiot Abroad, you might remember when he went to Egypt and stayed in the same hotel Michael Palin visited several years beforehand.

Now you can watch the two of them, briefly, as they meet for the first time to discuss their new book releases. Expect two different men, one common subject, and a lot of inimitable personality!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Paris in photographs

I thought I'd share some photos from my four-day trip to Paris last month, seeing as I'm short on time at the moment and can't give you guys a full recap. A lot of these are photos that I have previously posted on Instagram (you can find me as @SoapyCheese if you're on there), with a few regular shots in between. Hope you enjoy!

The Hotel De Lille where I stayed, about a two minute walk from Museé d'Orsay. I would only recommend this place if you want to experience something along the lines of Fawlty Towers!

Up ahead in this photo is the café I ate at my first evening in Paris. Oh, and they seem to love Smart Cars there; I saw so many!

The hotel wasn't all bad. In fact, the room was pretty nice. The bathroom had these beautiful Parisian windows which opened up all the way, and a great view.

A very gorgeous Parisian building right by the Eiffel Tower.

Authentic French Lavender garden, also by the Eiffel Tower.

No caption needed!

I wanted to go up, but the queue for the elevators was at least two hundred yards long (and no way was I taking the stairs)!

A classic Renault car. I think Marion Cotillard's character in the film A Good Year might have driven one of these?

I found these street stalls walking by the river Seine from Musée d'Orsay to the Latin Quarter.

They sold everything from souvenirs and posters to used French literature.

I managed to find a bunch of vintage French Elle magazines, and bought two for 10 Euros – one from the 1940s (left) and another from the 1950s (right)!

Also on my walk to the Latin Quarter, I stumbled upon the Pont Des Arts; a bridge covered in padlocks. The idea is that a couple will attach a padlock to the bridge, perhaps write a little something on it, then throw the key into the Seine. A romantic symbol of love perfect for Paris!

A quiet corner of the Latin Quarter.

The famous Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

A message from the owner, George Whitman, upon his retirement in 2004.

An American busker singing about Paris in the Latin Quarter. He was pretty good!

Notre Dame, and more street stalls.

On my last day, I was sat next to a lovely Australian couple in a café. They ordered snails, so were obviously feeling much braver than me! Also, check out that massive beer!

Heading home on the Eurostar. I can't wait to see Paris again!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Slow September

For the next two to four weeks, I'm going to be working full time and so won't have a lot of spare moments for reading or blogging. Yup, it certainly sucks, but I'll be back in force by the time this is over (and I can't wait!)

In the meantime, if you're an author, publisher, or even another blogger and are interested in producing a guest post for my blog, now's definitely the right time to get in touch. Email me at:, telling me a little bit about yourself and what you have to offer.

See you soon!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Review: Elemental Gelade by Mayumi Azuma [manga]

During a routine raid, sky-pirate Coud Van Giruet discovers a most unusual bounty: Ren, an "Edel Raid," is a living weapon that interacts with a human to become the ultimate fighting machine. But Van Giruet soon realizes that Ren is even more prized than he first thought. When she is captured by an evil man who sells Edel Raids on the black market, Coud and the agents of Arc Aile join forces to rescue Ren! (via Goodreads)

There's always a certain amount of 'strange' guaranteed when you read manga. Plots are either exaggerated in some way (which can, sometimes, mean more awesome), and/or feature offbeat fantasy worlds.

Elemental Gelade is a unique sci-fi story, but I didn't find it that great. I don't know if this is just my problem, but sometimes I find manga difficult to follow because of jumps in time or location that aren't pointed out very clearly. Could this be an issue with translation? I don't know, maybe other manga readers can tell me if they've had similar problems. All I know is, Elemental Gelade presented me with an unforgivable amount of barriers. I couldn't even figure out whether the people who try to bribe the sky-pirates have good or bad intentions. Not to mention, the ending is very strange (even for a manga).

Rating: 2.5 / 5