Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I am a HUGE Tana French fan! I started reading her books early 2014 and spaced them out so I'd have something to look forward to every few months. I read her 5th book The Secret Place in March this year and I was devastated that it would be my last French book for a while. Until a few days later I discovered this book, The Trespasser, was coming out! And after finding out that Detective Antoinette Conway, who was partnered up with Detective Stephen Moran in The Secret Place, was the narrator of this book, there was NO way I was waiting to read this book, I had to have it as soon as I could! I read it last month and mentioned it in my reading round up for that month but waited until now to publish my full review on here.
The story starts early one morning, when Antoinette and her partner Stephen Moran are given a case just before they are due to go off shift. Texts on the victim's phone show that she was supposed to have dinner at her house with a man, so the case looks to be a lovers' tiff turned sour; the man lashed out at woman, who fell and smashed her head open. But certain things don't add up. Her best friend alludes to her having another secret boyfriend, the house has been wiped clean and then there's the mysterious phone call that alerted the police to the crime in the first place. Antoinette and Stephen dig deeper and find that this isn't the typical couple’s argument gone wrong. The story kept me hooked right til the end. We start to find out the truth near the end, with 100 pages or so left to go, but there's just so much that could change that I was gripped as I had no idea which way it was going to twist again. French is just so perfect at writing these kind of plots, all these layers that get peeled away until you have the answer in your hand but not the final outcome or consequences.
Antoinette is a tough cookie, she's sarcastic, independent and a little difficult. She usually takes no shit but is finding it hard to fit into the Murder Squad and things keep happening. Not getting information passed on to her, pages in her reports going missing, nasty rumours, silence the second she walks into the squad room. Is it because she's a woman? Is it her race? Is it because she's difficult and awkward to work with? Is her fuck off attitude causing this rift in the squad or is it a result of the squad treating her this way? Either way, Antoinette keeps it to herself, rarely saying anything to her partner Stephen Moran. She's a complex character who has a slight chip on her shoulder, a combination of the fact of never knowing her father or anything about him (except for his ethnicity making her a darker skin tone), growing up poor with a single mother and now being the only woman in the Murder Squad boys club. It was hard to be in her head at times as her issues with not gelling in the Murder Squad has seriously messed with her head and who she trusts. Inside she's a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. Outside she only ever shows anger, which just adds to her being difficult to work with. But it was also fascinating being in her head and French just nails her voice, I could hear it lifting off the page and into my ear. I really rooted for her and I also loved her relationship with Stephen Moran (which I also enjoyed in The Secret Place). Their partnership is wonderful and I would love to see more of it in other books, which I sadly doubt will ever happen as French has yet to use the same narrator twice. I do hope to see glimpses of them in future books though. I'll be left wondering when the next book will be out and who will be the narrator! If you’re a fan of Tana French and especially Faithful Place and The Likeness then you’ll enjoy this. Pick it up!
I received an e-copy of this book in advance on NetGalley and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
1. Walk in some crunchy leaves. Is there anything better in autumn than some jumping in some beautiful coloured leaves?!
2. Take some pictures of these aformentioned pretty leaves.
3. Make some soup. Autumn is just perfect soup weather. I love French Onion Soup and Butternut Squash soup but I have a soup board on my Pinterest as I want to try some new ones.
4. Pick blackberries. I used to do this a lot with my grandmother and there’s always plenty of blackberries along the roads back home.
5. Make blackberry vodka. I’ve wanted to try this since seeing it on Rosalilium and really I don’t make as much vodka infusions as I’d like to!
6. Knit some pumpkins. I seem to have lost my knitting mojo these days so I’m hoping knitting some pumpkins be a fun way to bring it back!
7. Buy a scented candle. I don’t often buy or use scented candles but I want to buy a seasonal one, something warm and cosy! If you have any suggestions let me know below.
8. Decorate the place. I don’t ever decorate for autumn or Halloween but I might try putting something together, even if it’s just the mantle piece. Plus I need to use my knitted pumpkins somewhere!
9. Do some nail art. I did these nails Autumn Blaze nails two years ago and loved them. I want to recreate them and also do some more fun autumn themed nails. Not to mention Halloween nails! I have some already like my Sugar Skull nails, Pumpkin nails and Multi Design Halloween nails but there’s loads more I want to try out.
10. Make a chai latte. I don’t drink hot drinks all that often but autumn makes me crave them. I speficially want to try make a masala chai latte. I probably have most the ingredients already!
11. Other autumn crafting. So I mentioned knitting above but I might try busting out some paints and trying a watercolour. Failing that I’ve found some colouring pages on Everything Etsy that will be perfect to colour in using oranges, reds and yellows.
12. Make a playlist. Pinterest is awash with Halloween playlists and I’ve probably pinned some in my Halloween board so I might as well go and make one!
13. Update my wardrobe. I need new snuggly jumpers stat! I particularly want a jumper dress or at least an oversized jumper I can wear like that.
14. Watch Hocus Pocus! I love this film, my cousin and I watched it one year and then spent the rest of the Halloween playing in her grandfather’s attic pretending to be witches.
I might have more to add to this list but for now that’s it. I just need to make sure I tick some of these off! I created a Pinterest board which you can check out if you’re interested. What’s your favourite idea on this list? Is there anything else you’d add? Let me know in a comment below, I’d love to hear.
Friday, September 16, 2016
I follow many nail art people on YouTube but I don’t follow many on Instagram. One I do follow though is Sveta Sanders. She makes nail art look sooooo easy! Last month she posted a beautiful gold nail with a blue and purple jewel tone gradient glitter and I just fell in love with it. You can see the original by clicking here but below I have my take on the look. Well, they say imitation is a form of flattery. I just couldn’t not try it!
Gold- Revlon in Gold Coin
Blue- Milani One Coat Glitter in Blue Flash
Purple- Essence Special Effect! Topper in Only Purple Matters
I did as Sveta did, used the gold as a base coat, sponged on the blue glitter and then the purple glitter followed by a top coat. It’s such a pretty look! I couldn’t stop looking at my nails. It’s perfect for autumn too if you don’t want to go with typical berry shades and it’ll also be great for Christmas!
If you have any nailish bloggers, YouTubers or Instagram peeps let me know below! I’m always on the look out for more inspiration. And if you haven’t seen any of Sveta Sanders yet then do yourself a favour and check her out!
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
I’m a bit late posting this seeing as I was in LA in June but I still wanted to share the bookish adventures I had while there. I would have loved to have visited more stores and bought more things but I’m very happy with that I did get up to and buy.
The first day in LA we went Downtown and went to The Last Bookstore. It’s a massive bookstore that sells new and used books, records and has a labyrinth upstairs as well as a gallery and shops (including a yarn shop where I treated myself to a ball of yarn). There’s so much to look at it in there and the book tunnel in the labyrinth is a must see!
My friend is part of an awesome all ladies bookclub. While I was over visiting they had a meet up and my friend invited me along. She had told me the book they’d be reviewing in advance so I would be able to discuss it with them. The book was Euphoria by Lily King which I read in May and you can check out my review here. I had never been to a real life book club before and it was super fun. We ate delicious food, drank wine and debated about the book. Everyone there was lovely and very inviting and I had such a fun time!
Skylight is a bookstore in the Los Feliz area of LA and was the nearest bookshop to my friend’s house where we were staying. Skylight is an independent shop that is jam packed with books and hosts loads of events. It’s partly owned by Jeffrey Tambor who you might know better as George Bluth Sr and Oscar Bluth on Arrested Development which is pretty awesome! Their website has drawings of the covers of that month’s bestsellers done by one of their employees and it’s such a unique idea. 7th June was the release date of Grunt by Mary Roach and I made a beeline that evening to the shop to pick up my copy. The following week I returned with my friend and her book club. They were interested in reading The Girls by Emma Cline so they decided to go see her do a reading and Q&A. Seeing as The Girls is one of the biggest books of the summer it was interesting to go along to the event and it was nice to see all the book club again, I felt like an honorary member!
Other places I visited included Stories and The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park and Barnes and Noble for all of 5 minutes. I would have loved to have gone to more bookstores but just had too much other stuff to pack in!
As for my purchases I only bought two things. One was Grunt by Mary Roach. I had mentioned it in my Most Anticipated Books of 2016 post and I started reading it while on holiday. I wrote a review for it in which you can check out here. I had found out that the day I was leaving Mary Roach was doing an event in LA but while I could find the time and place I could find no information on tickets or anything so I couldn’t go. I also got myself a small pin that looks like a bookshop store front. It was so cute that I couldn’t resist picking it up. It’ll go well with my Penguin books pin!
Overall I’m very happy with the bookish section of my trip. It was great to be part of a book club even for those two events and everyone was so welcoming! If you’d like to see more about my trip to America you can check out my post on LA by clicking here and my post on my roadtrip to Vegas and Grand Canyon by clicking here. I also did a post with the same beauty haul which you can check out here.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Hello! So every year there’s hype and interest over the Pantone Colour of the Year and I personally love to see nail polish in this colour. This year there was not one but two colours. Rose Quartz, a baby pink colour and Serenity, a periwinkle blue. I already blogged some of my nail polish picks for these shades a few months back, you can check those out here.
For the past few years Essence has been on this trend and releases a shade that matches the Colour of the Year. This year I’ve only seen one polish on the stands, a pink for Rose Quartz. I have no idea if they’ve released on that matches Serenity, I hope they have though.
Colours of the Year for 2013 (Emerald), 2014 (Radiant Orchid), 2015 (Marsala) and 2016 (Rose Quartz)
I think it’s a pretty good match for Rose Quartz. In my polish picks for Pantone Colour of the Year post I did I picked a different Essence shade called Sweet as Candy but it was a bit too light for my liking. This one is probably a bit darker than Rose Quartz but it’s still pretty close.
It’s a really nice shade and these polishes are always so shiny. The price ain’t bad either! I can’t remember the exact price but these polishes are always under €2. I do think I prefer last year’s colour but more because of the time of year these polishes come out.
Friday, September 2, 2016
It’s kinda hard to believe it’s September already. I know this kind of thing is often said as the year goes on but it seems like the summer has flown by! August was a pretty productive reading wise so let’s get into those reads!
The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
This is book 3 in this series following Mary Quinn, a spy in Victorian London. This time seems Mary posing as a servant in Buckingham Place, trying to find a thief. But a greater story unravels and Mary must investigate. I love these books, they’re fun and Mary is a great lead character. There’s one more book in this series which I’m looking foward to picking up some time soon.
Poison City by Paul Crilley
Poison City is the first in an urban fantasy series set in South Africa. Gideon Tau is a supernatural investigator in the Delphic Division. His job involves vampires, angels, fae and demons. Gideon’s life has gone off the rails since the death of his child Cally, he’s obsessed with finding her killer. He finally stumbles across a lead but he must decide whether to get vengence or help save the world. I loved this book, it was very witty and I really enjoyed the setting in South Africa. I did a full review post last month which you can check out here if you want to know more. [NetGalley]
The Trespasser by Tana French
If you’ve ever read this blog before then you’ll know I’m a BIG Tana French fan. Her series is called The Dublin Murder Squad and it centres around a fictional murder squad department, with each book having a different character at the centre of the story. None of the books spoil each other so you can read in whichever order you’d like but I’d recommend reading it in order as you get a small introduction to the narrator of each book from the previous book. This book centres around Detective Antoinette Conway, who we last saw in The Secret Place. I’m purposely saying much about this book right now as I’m going to do a full review later this month! But I will say I LOVED it. [NetGalley]
Saga Volume Six by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan
Volume 6 in the Saga graphic novels. I’m still enjoying this but I didn’t love this as much as the first few books. I can barely remember what was in this book. I feel like there was a lot of filler in this book but I will still pick up the next volume or so as I’m interested in seeing how this series wraps up.
Lumberjanes Volume One by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and Brooke A. Allen
Lumberjanes Issue One was the very first thing I read this year in January. I really liked the issue so I was keen to pick up the first volume. I finally got around to it in August! Lumberjanes is set in at a summer camp and centres around 5 friends. They encounter supernatural beings and other strange things and have lots of fun and adventures together. It’s a kick ass series that is funny and sweet at times. It would be great for younger readers too.
Lumberjanes Volume Two by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen and Maarta Laiho
I enjoyed volume two as much as volume one, maybe even more so because I had a better grip of the characters! I love the friendship between the girls and this made me laugh out loud at times with the little details.
The Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant
I wanted a light summery book to read and this cover spoke to me! Plus Sharon over at Behind Green Eyes had read it in June and enjoyed it so I decided to give it a go. Millie has decided to buy the old Honeybourne Bakery though after getting there she discovers there's a lot more work needed before she can open up shop. She makes friends with Jasmine, who lives with her husband and triplets, as well as Jasmine's handsome brother Dylan and his friend Spencer. But Millie is running from something and has a secret she doesn't want her new friends to find out. This was a quick light read with some darker themes that were handled well. Honeybourne is a quaint location where everyone knows each others business. While I did enjoy it, I was a bit disappointed it took so long in the story for the bakery to be finished and set up but I do look forward to reading the second book [NetGalley]
End of Watch by Stephen King
Final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. I won’t say too much about the plot as it might spoil the first book but I was a touch disappointed with this one. Part of the reason I LOVED the first book was because it was good detective book and I loved the characters. Book two was good, it was a bit different as our main characters didn’t come into it til half way through but it was still a good thriller. This book brought a supernatural element into it and it kinda ruined it all for me. It might have been good as an idea on its own as a stand alone but I felt like it ruined the feel of the series. I was reluctant to pick this up and considered not finishing it but I wanted closure on the series. It’s not a bad book or story, but I just felt like it was out of place.
Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard
I read the first in this series in April and was very happy to discover then that the next one was out in August. In the first book Emmy is on holiday at this guesthouse when her boyfriend runs off with the owner’s wife! Emmy stays behind to help the owner Rupert run the place. What I really liked about this being a sequel is that it picks up right after the last book, with only a gap of 2 or 3 weeks. I really enjoy all the characters and their relationships with each other, it was nice to see Emmy being so happy with her life and her relationship with Alain. The setting is beautiful, I can just imagine the beautiful French countryside when reading this and I really want to visit a real life La Cour des Roses! [NetGalley]
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw
This is another book that interested me after seeing Sharon from Behind Green Eyes talking about it! Scarlett loves the TV show Lycanthrope High and is incredibly popular online as a fanfiction writer. Scarlett is devastated when the show is cancelled but still wants to continue writing. She starts to write her own story, a thin-veiled account based on her friend Avery, Avery’s mean older sister Ashley and Scarlett’s crush Gideon. I liked this story, Scarlett was interesting and the book looked at some interesting themes such as being poor and feeling like an outsider. I loved Scarlett’s relationship with her eldery neighbour Ruth. We get snippets of the fanfiction throughout the book and overall the book reminded me of Fangirl mixed with Harriet the Spy. I felt it read a bit younger than Fangirl but not in a bad way. The fanfiction in this was better than in Fangirl though, I wasn’t a massive fan of it. This is a solid YA book that’s a fast read and centres around a character who is slightly different than the polished popular girls in some YA books.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Prior to reading this book, the only thing I ever heard about it is it’s about an ex boyfriend and girlfriend who are both on different ships and the book is done in the form of messages to each other and files and documents. But there’s more to it than that! I thought they were alone in the spaceships but in fact they’re not. The book starts off on a distant planet with an illegal mine. When a big rival corporation attacks the planet the inhabitants flee, including Kady and Erza who have just ended their relationship earlier that day. They end up on different rescue ships and along with a third rescue ship, they all try and escape the attack. But there’s secrets aboard all these ships including a mystery virus and an onboard computer gone haywire. Kady and Erza are forced to try and help each other despite the fact that when they left the planet they were barely even talking. The book is told through a stack of hacked documents such as videos, military files, IMs and interviews, which makes the layout really cool. There was a few twists that made me gasp outloud and despute the size of the book (almost 600 pages) it reads pretty fast due to the unique layout. Can’t wait to get my hands on Gemina soon!
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin
Ray Celestin’s first book was The Axeman’s Jazz, which I actually have a copy of but haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I saw the description of this book though and really wanted to give it a go. Set in 1928 in Chicago, we follow three different story lines. Michael and Ida are detectives at Pinkerton’s who are investigating the disapperance of an heiress after her distraught mother comes to them worried. Jacob is a crime scene photographer who wants to crack the case of a white gangster found murdered in a black neighbourhood. And Dante has been called back to Chicago from New York by Al Capone himself, who has tasked him to looking into a batch of bad booze which could have dire consequences for Dante. The story switches between these three story lines as it unravels and weaves together. I loved this book, it was so well thought out and researched. The twists and turns were great, I didn’t see where this book was going until it started to come together at the end. The atmosphere was fantastic, jazz Prohibition era Chicago with gangsters, music, speakeasies and booze spilling off the pages into my head so vividly. The book reminded me a lot of One Summer by Bill Bryson about the summer in America in 1927. A lot of the characters in Bryson’s book pop up as cameos in this book and it just added to the excitement and authenticity of the story. In fact, Celestin mentions Bryson’s book in the notes at the end of the book and it was such a delight to see this novel mix together so well with a non-fiction account of the time, it really tickled me! I really enjoyed the main characters in this book too. I found out after that some are in The Axeman’s Jazz so I probably should have read that book first but I don’t feel like that book was spoiled by Dead Man’s Blues. I’m actually now really excitement to pick up The Axeman’s Jazz, as well as the other books to come out after this. One of my favourites so far of this year. [NetGalley]
Lumberjanes Volume Three by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Maarta Laiho, Carolyn Nowak, Aubrey Aiese, Brittany Williams, Aimee Fleck, Faith Erin Hicks, Rebecca Tobin, Felicia Choo and T. Zysk
Volume Three of Lumberjanes. While I liked this I didn’t like it as much as the first two. This is partly because the group is split in this book and the two storylines were a bit weak. It lacked cohesion. There is also spme new illustrators which took me a bit of time to get used to. When I first started reading I noticed the style had changed at times, which bugged me at first but then I kinda like how there was a difference. It wasn’t a massive change but still enough to notice. I will continue reading but I hope the girls are all together in the next one! They are so much fun when together.
Number of Books Read- 13
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 13:0
Number of eBooks- 5 (Poison City, The Trespasser, The Little Village Bakery, Return to the Little French Guesthouse and Dead Man’s Blues)
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 8 (The Traitor and the Tunnel, Saga Volume 6, Lumberjanes 1-3, End of Watch, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here and Illuminae)
I’m happy enough with my August reads! I’ve now read over 100 titles this year, which has me feeling good and bad. The number is satisfying no doubt but I know it’s high because I’ve been reading so many graphic novels. I haven’t felt like picking up non-fiction in a while and I’m hoping to rectify this in the upcoming months.
Friday, August 12, 2016
Gideon Tau (better known as London Town to his colleagues) works in the occult investigative unit in the South African police force called the Delphic Division. Since his daughter was kidnapped and murdered, his life has fallen to pieces. His girlfriend has left him, all he does is work, drink and obsess about who killed his daughter Cally. He has two friends left: his fifty-something year old boss Armitage, another UK ex-pat from Yorkshire, and his spirit guide, a talking dog who loves to watch TV all day and drink sherry all night. Tau's cases have him in contact with all sorts of supernatural creatures, such as angels, demons, vampires and fae. While investigating the death of a low level vampire, Tau finally finds a link to his daughter and has to choose between revenge for Cally or do his job and help save the world.
I really liked this book! I first heard about it in one of Books and Pieces videos, which you can find here. I’ll be honest, the main reason this book intrigued me was because it reminded me of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, which I love, and while there are some similarities, it’s not a carbon copy. South Africa is a great setting for an urban fantasy and Crilley has done his research when it comes to lore and mythology around the world. While there is a lot of gore and fighting in this, I didn’t find it too unsettling but keep this is mind if that’s not your kind of thing. Gideon Tau is a solid narrator, I did feel like I really didn't get to know him but I think that's partly down to his torment over his daughter's death, that he’s lost who he is obsessing over this. I loved Dog and Armitage! They made me laugh out loud on so many occasions, especially when Armitage cracked jokes about Harry Potter (also, the fact that Crilley mentions that the UK’s version of the Delphic Division is called the Ministry tickled me!). Dog is so snide and dry, most of the lines I’ve highlighted and saved are from him. I particularly like this come back he had after Tau says he has something all figured out
‘London, you haven’t even figured out how much milk to put in your cereal yet. Consider me worried’.
This is a fast paced urban fantasy that has interesting characters, plenty of humour and some dark themes. I can’t wait to read the next one!
I received this digital advanced reader copy from NetGalley. I’m under no obligation to post reviews in exchange for the ARC. All opinions are my own, the reason I wrote this post is because I genuinely think the book is awesome!