Friday, 29 May 2015

Book Review: A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent

Read: May 25 - 28    Verdict: 3.5 stars

French born, English raised Marguerite is a married doll-maker who is quite content with her life, her husband and her little doll shop in London. That is until some drunkards come to her shop, shouting about the French and end up skewering her husband. Afterwards, marguerite finds it difficult to discover any reason she should stay on int the world. Eventually her beloved aunt ships Marguerite off to become an apprentice under Madam Tussaud. Yes, that Madam Tussaud.

Madam Tussaud fled France several years earlier with her waxwork figures and her young son. With a grim sense of determination and a work ethnic that would please any soldier, Marie Tussaud is determined to make her waxwork show a success. Under Tussaud's guidance, Marguerite slowly begins to come out of her shell, rediscover her creative flare and maybe even fall in love. Marguerite also becomes entangled with a famous man of history - Lord Nelson!

Overall, I found this a very enjoyable book! From the get go, Marguerite was quite a likeable character and i actually found it remarkable how fond I became of Nicholas within the few mere pages he was actually alive. Their relationship was so sweet and sincere, I found myself hoping the blatant obvious wouldn't become true.

I also liked the strong character of Marie Tussaud. She faced every single situation the same, showing off a very tough character, only letting in a few cracks for softness now and again. She was a constant source of strength and admiration. And certainly sounded like someone who would become a very famous success!

I found the first half of the book a very slow read, despite the timeline in it being quite fast paced. The second half of the book went much quicker for me, and I enjoyed the bit of 'real' action in it much more!

Although Mr. Philipstral was portrayed as the 'villain', I wouldn't quite label him so. Yes, he was certainly a scoundrel and a trickster, and you probably couldn't trust him as far as you could throw him but I believed that he would never really hurt Marguerite, and truly did care for her. In the end, the last time Marguerite talked to Philistral was actually quite a sweet one, and showed that he thought of her even when his own life was at risk.

The characters of Darden Hastings and Brax Selwyn reminded me an awful lot (at first) of Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Hastings has the dark, grumpy exterior but is really quite a sweetheart inside, while Selwyn was full of jokes and easy smiles.

There were definitely times that Marguerite irritated me, in particular when she kept taking certain characters at face value. I wish she hadn't been so naive and sometimes some straight questions and answers would have solved some problems (and eradicated some subplots)

Overall, I think when an author can create a fictional character and place them in moments of history, and build them friendships with people of historical importance, making them seem like they've always belonged there...that's a real talent. And Trent did it so, so perfectly.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Book Review: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Read: May 17-18  Verdict: 3 stars

All Lucy knows is the small cottage on an island. Since she was a small girl, Lucy has been stuck on this island with her guardian with only one instruction - to never, ever, sing out loud. One day, Lucy breaks this sacred rule and is suddenly whisked away, falling smack into the middle of a castle - of an enemy she never knew existed. Lucy discovers that she is no ordinary girl and is, in fact, a Chantress - a witch who can conjure magic through song.

Suddenly Lucy is plunged into a great adventure - learning the ways of chanting with the only other Chantress left and vowing to destroy the book of shadows that brought about the destruction of her race.

This book was a pleasant surprise and a fast read. Lucy is a likeable character and the reader really roots for her during her training and feels when she fails at certain things. The friends Lucy makes are lovely and the blossoming romance Lucy has with a certain apprentice is also a pleasant step in the right direction.

The novel ends in a way that there is no immediate need for another one but the fact that there is one, is a great surprise. It's definitely one I'll be continuing.

Book Review : Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon

Read: May 6-7   Verdict: 5 stars

Daisy is part of the team that looks after a famous Formula 1 racing team, and she has developed a bit of a crush on one of the drivers, Will. The only problem is Will has had a girlfriend, since well forever! And how can a girl compete against that? Luckily, Daisy has some friends to help her out, and the annoying advice of Luiz, the other driver on the team.

If you've read Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine, also by Paige Toon, you may recognise Daisy and may even know the ending of the book. But that doesn't mean it's not a hell of a ride.

Both Will and Luis in this book are both really nice guys, with really different personalities. Luis definitely has that South American spice and feistiness to him, which definitely played off well with the Italian passion and temper that Daisy inherited from her grandparents but then Will was much more soft-spoken, kind and decent. It was so hard to know who to root for. Being honest, I was totally expecting Will to end up being the biggest ass, cause obviously he had the girlfriend and he was so torn between Daisy and Laura. I really did not expect what happened!

The reader goes through a whole load of emotions with Daisy, from confusion, love, grief, the magic of new beginnings and finally acceptance and happiness. This book will make you laugh and cry, sometimes all at the same time!

Books I'll Never Read

This week's topic for "Top 5 Wednesday" was "Book's I'll Never Read...Ever" and I'll be honest, it didn't take me long to make a list of books I know I'll never read, or a series I'll know I'll never continue.

My top series is one I bet is on a lot of people's list and that's Fifty Shades of Grey! I read the first book in the trilogy a few years back, before the hype of the movie began - my boyfriend at the time, his mam was reading it and she really enjoyed it so she gave to me. When you think about it, and the topic of the book, that might seem kinda weird but somehow, it wasn't! Anyway, I read the book through a lot of pain at the standard of writing, and muffled exclamations of the pure stupidity of Anastasia Steele. I hated her in a way I've never really hated any other character. Honestly, if I could choose between her and her "inner Goddess" and Professor Umbridge, I'd choose Umbridge!

Anyways, I knew I would never read the books but how did I end up with the whole trilogy sitting on my shelf? I'll tell you, my dad bought them! He's really into The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Divergent, and he assumed when he heard all the hype about Fifty Shades, that this was just another YA trilogy..and it most certainly isn't. I'm pretty sure he opened up one of the books, read a passage, and threw it across the room. Then he gave the books to me, though I'll never read them either and they have obtained a thick layer of dust in the last few years! It just pains me that so many talented writers are turned away from publishers everyday when absolute (excuse my french) shite like Fifty Shades is published and makes millions.

I think due to my bad experiences with Fifty Shades, I was totally put off reading another fan fiction turned novel - After by Anna Todd. Almost everyone knows that After was derived from a fan fiction about One Direction's Harry Styles and much like the way Christian Grey is a shadow of Edward Cullen, the same can be told for the main male character in After. Like I've said in my video, I don't understand why people are so happy to have their fan fiction out their for everyone to know about - I used to write fan fiction but it was a secret that I used to share on writing websites under a different name than my own. While I'd love to be a published author, I'd much prefer my original stories be the ones that get their own bound cover, not my silly fan fictions!

For no reason at all, I just don't want to read Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. It's just one of those books that doesn't endear to me and I have no desire to pick it up. I'll be giving it a pass...forever. Sorry Jamie.

I know for a fact I'll never finished of the House of Night series by P.C and Kristin Cast. This was a series that I became enthused with when I was around 14/15 years old. I even used to spend my pocket money on the new books. But it didn't take long for me to become extremely disappointed in the books. As soon as you felt the end was coming, a new book
would be announced. And Zooey, the main character, became more and more annoying - she has unnecessary love triangles again and again and again and she could be extremely juvenile when she was suppose to come across as a mature leader. P.C Cast is an extremely thoughtful and creative writer - I have read several of her Goddess Summoning books and all of her Partholon series, both of which  enjoyed immensely - so I don't know where exactly she went wrong with House of Night. I'll be interested in reading her daughter's new book, who she co-writes House of Night with, to see what Kristin's writing is like solo.

And the last topic I'll never read is anything to do with incest - brother/sister love. Having a little brother myself, it's just gross....

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

My Biggest Reading Influence

When it comes to the combination of the words ‘books’, ‘reading’ and ‘influence’, the first person who springs to my mind is my gran. But to understand why, maybe I should backtrack to the time I was reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, I think I was around seven or eight years old. I just loved reading - from Farthing Wood to Balloon Boy, everything was devoured and it was about this time that my gran introduced me to the concept of the library. Rather than trying to stifle my interest in books, my gran made sure I was allowed to embrace it, signing me up to my very first library card - it’s a day I’ll never forget. All those towering bookshelves full of books, and I could take any I wanted (at least from the children’s section) and take them home to read…..and then I could come back and get more! It was definitely one of those days where I felt like five Christmases had come at once.

For myself and my Gran, books have become our own secret language. We share books, talk about books, listen to radio shows about books. It’s books books books. I often find it difficult to find people who really understand my need to read, my passion for the different stories and my intimate friendships with make-believe characters. But with my gran, there’s never a need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. I never have to hide my enthusiasm. She lets me be myself. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

My parents have certainly never told me that reading was bad but my mam isn't a reader and will often comment on the other things I could be doing with my life when I have my nose stuck in a book. While my dad is an avid reader, he doesn't quite understand my 'speed-reading' and feels that I must not be able to "enjoy" a book because I read it so fast when in fact, it's just my natural reading speed.

A "cheers" to all the people who encouraged my hobby :)