Monday, March 21, 2016

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern Book Review

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.

flawed cecelia ahernHaving never read Cecelia Ahern before, when I saw this and the fact it's a YA book I decided to give it a go. The world this is set in has Flawed people, people who have been found guilty not of crimes but other moral problems, like lying or stealing from society. Once they are found guilty by the Guild, they are branded in certain area that tells what their Flaw is (so if you had made a bad decision, you would be branded on the temple). Celestine is a 17 and lives a logical, perfect life. Great at school, perfect boyfriend and lives by the rules. She believes strongly in the Guild and what they stand for. So when an event on a bus changes her life, Celestine finds herself in a difficult position. Lie and pretend she is perfect or tell the truth and risk being found Flawed.

The book itself gave me mixed feelings. A lot of it felt very familiar, but then again, with the rise in popularity of dystopian YA books with female main characters that's not too surprising. And doesn't mean it can make the book any less enjoyable. I found myself annoyed at times by the idea of being found flawed by assisting a Flawed person. In Celestine's case, the reason she is brought before the Guild is because she tried to get a non-Flawed woman to move out of the Flawed seats on the bus (only two per bus) so this sick old Flawed man could sit down. When the woman doesn't move, Celestine helps him into a normal seat so he can stop coughing and catch his breathe. The idea that helping a sick man, even though he's Flawed, can find you in trouble but allowing him to be sick on the bus, to the point where he might collapse or even die and that not helping him isn't a problem in this world that has a strong moral superiority just baffled me a bit. But over time, while thinking this over, I could see how things like this actually could happen in a society. That groups of people could be given curfews or made wear armbands or be branded could happen and have actually happened before so.

I did like the world this is set in, while it's dystopian it's still quite modern, using phones and tablets (this is possibly the reason why I didn’t at first click with the whole Flawed idea, as most dystopians I’ve read felt really detatched from the world I live in). I also liked how media and celebrity obsession is still part of the Flawed world. How the media were so interested in Celestine and her all aspects of her life. The book was a quick read and I found myself reading fast as I wanted to see what happened. I like how we see why people are so interested in Celestine, why so many different people see her as a pawn and how she could alter the world by pushing their own agendas. I'm not sure how I feel about this potential love triangle (I don’t think it needed it), but there's always some mysterious figure in dystopian books! I think if you like dystopian YA books and don't mind exploring similar themes then you'll enjoy this.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Shamrock Sharpie Nails for St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I decided to give Sharpie nail art another go after enjoying the look I did for Valentine’s Day. I’m going to call these a ‘win-fail’.



To start off I used Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine in Coconut for a slightly off-white base coat. On my triggers (thumbs and index finger) I used Revlon in Gold Coin. I drew on the shamrocks using my Sharpies, let dry for a bit and sprayed with hair spray to ‘set’ them so they wouldn’t streak when I used top coat. Only for me to look down after and see that it did streak after all. But I liked it, the colour bled a bit but the shamrocks kept their shape. Hence why it’s a ‘win-fail’, it could have been a lot worse and in the end I actually liked the effect. Next time I decide to do Sharpie nails I’ll try and let the design dry a bit more and hold the hair spray further back so it’s not as wet going on the nails.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Shamrock Eye Emoji Nails for St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve done plenty of posts on here over the years for St. Patrick’s Day. I love doing themed nails and I had I been more organised this year I’d have done more looks. Anyway, this one I love as it’s very simple. I had the idea when I was thinking of the Emoji Valentine’s Nails I did last year and I thought to replace the hearts with shamrocks. Probably not very original but I’m loving it!

Shamrock Emoji Nails nail art nailart shamrocks st.patricks day paddys green glitter

Shamrock Emoji Nails nail art nailart shamrocks st.patricks day paddys green glitter color club

The green glitter I used is Color Club in Object of Envy. For the accent nail I used NYC in Lexington Yellow, the green is Essence in Rollercoaster and the black is Maybelline Color Show Nail Art Pen in Black. I used a dotting tool to do the eyes, they’re not as perfect as I’d like them to be but I’m happy with how this turned out over all.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

February’s Reads 2016

This post continues digital advanced reading copies from NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post reviews and all opinions are my own.
A bit late going up but not too late! Here’s what I managed to read in February.
February’s Reads
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
If you think you’re not familiar with Pygmalion by name, then you might know it better as the music and film My Fair Lady, which were adapted from this play by George Bernard Shaw. I haven’t seen the film starring Audrey Hepburn but I had idea about it so I kinda knew what to expect before reading this. Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics who makes a bet with his friend that he can transform Eliza Doolittle, a common street flower seller, into a lady, just by changing the way she talks. It makes for an interesting read (at the beginning Shaw writes how the characters speak phoentically so we can get an idea of how the character talks but also probably to point out that it would be exhausting to read the entire play in this way. But it does make it fun to speak the lines outloud!). Higgins is not a nice character, he’s horrible in fact, but I liked Eliza and I liked the ending too.

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger
Manners MutinyBook 4 (and the final book) in The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger. This is a fun YA series, I first heard of it when my friend Brandy from Undrinkable Brandy recommended it to me. It’s set in an alternative Victorian England, where vampires and werewolves are just accepted parts of society. Sophronia and friends go to school on board a floating dirgible which not only teaches young girls to be ladies but how to be spies. This book definitely helped redeem the series for me (I felt the previous book was a bit of a let down), Sophronia is a kick ass female lead and the world is such a fun world, great steampunk vibe. I’m looking forward to picking up Carriger’s other series (The Parasol Protectorate and The Custard Protocol) which are also set in the same world. While I liked this series, I think I might enjoy the other series even more as the characters are slightly older.

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel
dancing at lughnasa
Dancing at Lughnasa is set in 1930s rural Ireland that follows one family living under the same roof. 5 Mundy sisters (Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose and Chris), 1 brother who has recently returned from being a missionary in Uganda and the 7 year old son of Chris, born out of wedlock to her on/off again partner Gerry. The play is set in two acts, 1st before the Lunghnasa Festival and the 2nd set after, though the timeline does jump around a small bit. While I did enjoy certain elements of this play like the interactions of the family (who annoy each other, act silly with each other and everything in between) and how this play highlights keys issues in Ireland at that time, I did find some things were left unanswered and it is a bit maudlin, it left me sad. I think I would enjoy this a lot more on stage but it was still an interesting read.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
the trouble with goats and sheepI decided to read this book after seeing a lot of hype about it (and I was curious about the goats and sheep!). Mrs Creasy has gone missing, with no word or warning. The entire Avenue is talking about it and so 10 year old Grace and Tilly decide to investigate. They go house to house in search of God, because the vicar told them God is everywhere and if they can find God, they He will know what happened to Mrs Creasy and keep her safe. Slowly we discover the secrets the Avenue holds, big and small and that Mrs Creasy was probably aware of all of them.

I enjoyed Grace and Tilly, they were innocent and naive at times but other times their observations were astutely wise and observant like kids can be. Cannon does a great job of creating the atmosphere of the time it's set in (1976, during a heatwave) without being too nostalgic or cheesy, as well as building up the dynamics and secrets of this small community. I loved how the flashback story is told in reverse so we can see how Mr Bishop becomes the outcast of the neighbourhood and how the mob mentality built up. The only thing that let me down was the disappearance of Mrs Creasy, I felt like it lacked something or just wasn't believable. Overall I found it warm, humorous and well paced, well worth the read! (eARC from NetGalley)

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
not if I see you first

Parker Grant thinks she has her life sorted. She has her friends, her running and is not afraid to speak her mind. Until one morning she finds her father dead. Her aunt moves into Parker's house with her family and things haven't gelled. And then to top it off the two high schools merge and Parker finds that boy who betrayed her and brokeher heart a few years ago is back in her life. Oh and Parker's fully blind.

This book deals with a lot of issues that YA books typically deal with. Family problems, friend problems, new love interest troubles, old love interest troubles. All big problems for teenagers in the first place without being blind on top of this. Parker annoyed me at times. I like her bluntness but she came across as overly angry at times and she's pretty self centred, especially when it comes to her friends. But it didn't stop me from rooting for her, by the end she has come to realise that she's self centred and is trying to fix this. And I liked the fact that she's this complex character, which sometimes doesn't happen when the main character is sick or have a disability. Parker is trying to deal with her blindness which wasn't from birth, it happened when she was 7 after her mother drank a bottle of wine and crashed the car. Parker is also dealing with the deep grief of losing her father and this is also central to the story, so there is a big coming of age theme to the story.

Other things I liked about the book is the friendships and how they're portrayed. I especially liked Molly and quickly she got to be friends with Parker. Overall it's a cute contemporary, a quick read that hooked me from the go! (eARC from NetGalley)

Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes
Making It Up As I Go Along

Making It Up As I Go Along is a collection of articles, both previously published and unpublished. They’re divided into different sections like Health and Beauty, Travels, and Things I Love. You can easily dip in and out of different sections if you like but I chose to read it through from the beginning. Marian has a chatty style of writing, reading this book is like talking to a friend. She has a unique vocabulary at times,some of it is very much Irish slang which made it feel even more familiar and cosy for me. But don’t worry, Marian provides a glossary of words at the beginning as well as a who’s who of her friends and family so you can check back who they are if you forget. I posted a full review last month which you can check out here (eARC from NetGalley)

What Goes Around by Emily Chappell
What_Goes_Around Emily_Chappell

Emily Chappell took up cycle couriering in London as a stopgap while trying to figure out what 'real' job she wants to peruse. 6 years later and Emily is still cycling. What Goes Around is part memoir, part day in the life of a courier and part ode to London. Chappell tells us what it's like to be a cycle courier, the pain, the exhaustion, being subjected to the elements, how reckless drivers and pedestrians are towards cyclists. We get a sense of the community of cyclists and especially couriers in London. I like Chappell's writing and thoughts on things, especially the idea that certain parts of London trigger certain memories whenever she passes them. 'The unlikeliest street corners will have some tattered threads of memory fluttering from them like a flag'. I like the idea thatour memories lie scattered around the places we've visited and that revisiting these places can bring these thoughts and memories flooding back to us when we revisit these places.

I enjoyed the book, I always find it interesting to learn about people who have unusual jobs. The fact that I'm familiar with London definitely helped, but I don't think it's essential to enjoy this. book. I was a bit lost at times between the technical elements of bicycles (it wasn't until I had finished that I discovered there was a glossary of terms at the back of the book), so I do think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I had even the tiniest amount of interest in bikes and cycling (eARC from NetGalley)

The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore
the poison artist

The Poison Artist starts off with our main character Caleb, who has just had a massive argument with his girlfriend Bridget, which resulted in her throwing a glass at his forehead. As a result Caleb goes to stay in a hotel to drown his sorrow. He meets this mysterious lady (E) and quickly becomes obsessed with her. His best friend Henry, a medical examiner, keeps receiving bodies that have died in mysterious circumstances with chemicals and asks Caleb, a toxicologist, to help him. Caleb gets wrapped up in obsession, with finding E and these murders, and add in this mysterious past that is consistently hinted at, Caleb's state rapidly declines.

Moore does a great job of building up this atmosphere in this book. Mystery women E adds a touch of a film noir feel to this book, with that she wears, her perfume, where she brings Caleb and all the absinthe. He also does a good job of setting the book in San Francisco, with his rich descriptions of the Bay Area. While overall I enjoyed the book and the plot, I didn't connect to Caleb or the mystery woman. Thinking about it, with the whole plot twist, I can see why this might actually work for the story in one sense, but I think the heavy focus on Caleb and his obsession had the story lacking something. It takes 3/4 of the book for us to learn about what happened with Bridget and start to learn what happened in Caleb's past, which annoyed me at times as I wanted to know more before then but it does keep you reading as it's keeps the suspense going. Overall it was an enjoyable mystery thriller, that has a great atmosphere and good twist (eARC sent to me by publisher)

The Home Crowd Advantage by Ben Aaronovitch
It’s not secret that I love the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. And that I’ve been waiting since last year to read the latest installment (now due out June. Fingers crossed it doesn’t change again!). So I was delighted to find that I had missed this short story, set in London during the 2012 Olympics. Peter Grant gets called out to a sort a magical incident which he needs to deal with himself because Nightgale is away. This is literally too short to review properly, it feels kinda cheaty even adding it here! But if you too are waiting for The Hanging Tree then this might help tide you over a bit! You can read it here on Ben Aaronovitch’s blog.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
a gathering of shadows
 I read A Darker Shade of Magic last month and LOVED it! It’s a clever world, has great characters and was just a fun read. The second I finished it I read the preview for A Gathering of Shadows on NetGalley and then had to wait a month to finish it. Agony! Now second books in series can be a bit of a let down. Usually there’s a lot of world explaining and building of the plot for final book. And this book had this, but it did it so well. We got to see a bit more of the characters, learn a bit more about the world and there was a slow build up for the next book. But that build up did not distract from the story of this book, which was a solid enough as it is. I love the character of Delilah and I’m looking forward to the next installment!

February’s Stats
Number of Books Read- 10
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 9:1
Ratio female to male- 5:5
Number of eBooks- 8 (Manners and Mutiny, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, Making It Up As I Go Along, Not If I See You First, What Goes Around, The Poison Artist, The Home Crowd Advantage and A Gathering of Shadows)
Number of Books Borrowed from Library- 2 (Pygmalion and Dancing at Lughnasa)

Book Riot Challenge Completed
Read a collection of Essays- Making It Up As I Go Along
Read a Play- Dancing at Lughnasa
So quite a eBook heavy month. Like last month I was trying to get through my NetGalley ARCs, though I always end up adding to that list faster than I can get through it! I will be trying to make a more conscious effort in the future to read the physical books that I own. Which I’ve probably said a million times before but seeing round ups like this just highlights how bad I can be at times!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Irish Authors Month TBR

In 2014 I read all Irish authors I hadn’t read before and really enjoyed it. I’ve decided to read Irish authors again this month, I’m going to try to stick to just Irish authors but I might read one or two that aren’t Irish. I have a list of books and authors I want to read, I won’t get to them all this month (or maybe even this year!) but there’s a few that I’m prioritising and looking forward to more than others. This is what this post is for! I know Beth from Plastic Rosaries is reading Irish this month too (she’s doing a different country every month and Ireland just happened to be in March!)

irish collage one

-The Secret Place by Tana French. I first came across Tana French when I read her first book In The Woods during the 2014 Irish month. And I fell in love! I’ve read all her books to date except this one, her latest which was published autumn 2014. I’ve managed to space out my reading of French’s book and saved it to read this month!

-Asking For It by Louise O Neill. I read her first book Only Ever Yours in August and I’ve had this book waiting to be read ever since. Truth be told I’ve been putting it off a bit, I know it’s going to be harrowing and upsetting and I just haven’t been in the mood for it. But I do want to read it and honestly is there ever a time to be in the mood for a book about rape? Not really. But essential reading.

-Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor. I got this as an ARC at work last year and it’s been waiting for me to pick it up since. The book reimagines the life of Emily Dickinson told through the eyes of her Irish maid. I have read a few pages already and I liked it so we’ll see how it goes.

-Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley. I’ve had this book ever since Sharon from Behind Green Eyes mentioned it. It’s a thriller about a new mother Yvonne who uses an online parenting forum. When one of her friends goes offline, Yvonne ignores her niggling feeling that something is wrong until a woman with similarties to her missing friend turns up dead. Sharon read it in one day which is a great endorsement!


irish collage two

-The Gathering by Anne Enright. I have this on audiobook from 2014, it was something I didn’t around to then and just kinda forgot about until recently. Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2007, it’s involves a family coming together for the wake and funeral of their brother and all the secrets a family try and hide from each other.

-The Lake by Sheena Lambert. I’ve had a copy of this ever since the author kindly sent me a copy. Set in 1970s Ireland, a body turns up in the manmade lake and when the detective sent to investigate arrives, tensions rise and family secrets will be revealed.

-Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. Confession: I have never read any Cecelia Ahern books. So when I saw her debut YA novel on NetGalley I requested it as it sounded interesting. Set in a dystopian world where obedience is key, one girl breaks a rule and is found to be flawed. After I read The Hunger Games series, I read a lot of dystopian YA series and I think I overdosed on them. However I do still like the genre (Only Ever Yours last year helped remind me of that) so I’m looking forward to reading this.

-Darkmouth: Chaos Descends by Shane Hegarty. I read book one last May and book two in October and I’m looking forward to this third book! Amazon lists this release to be April but the author said the book is out at the end of March so I’m hoping to get my hands on this by the end of the month!

There’s so many more picks too. I want to try a Donal Ryan novel and a Belinda McKeon novel. Having read Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry a few years ago, a collection of short stories, I’ve been eyeing up his novel Beatlebone. I’m waiting to see what the Rick O’Shea book of the month will be for March as well, if it’s an Irish author I’ll pick it up. I’d love to read one or two non-fiction books too (I do have About Face by Aisling McDermott and Laura Kennedy to read come to think about it!) so if you have any suggestions like me know in comments below

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