December 31, 2015

2015 End of Year Book Survey



Well, it's that time of the year again.  Time to reflect on the year that was, and to share my highlights - and misses - of 2015.

Enjoy!

NOTE: actually read 109 new books.  Fuzzy Nation was not included for some reason, but have since amended this on Goodreads.

December 12, 2015

Book Review || Death on Demand

Death on Demand
Death on Demand, Book 1
Carolyn (G.) Hart

Published: originally released in Feb, 1987

Bantam Books, mass market, 195p
ISBN: 978-0-553-26351-0

At Annie Laurance's Death On Demand bookstore on Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina, murder most foul suddenly isn't confined to the well-stocked shelves. Author Elliot Morgan's abrupt demise during a weekly gathering of famous mystery writers called the Sunday Night Regulars is proof positive that a bloody sword is sometimes mightier than a brilliant pen.With Annie in the unenviable position of primary police suspect, the pretty young mystery maven and her wealthy paramour, Max Darling, embark on an investigation into a classic locked-room mystery with high stakes. For failing to unmask a brutal and ingenious killer could mean prison for Ms. Laurance. While success could mean her death.

 



Death on Demand is a wonderfully descriptive and deliciously deceptive offering, and is the first in the Death on Demand series. Harking back to the whodunit style of mystery that made small town murder and classic Agatha Christie so popular.  Death on Demand is a wonderful introduction to a fabulous series - and while not the first book I've read in this wonderful series, I decided that it was high time to go back to the very beginning to see how it all began when I happened across it on Book Depository.

They say that opposites attract, and that is definitely the case with Annie Laurence and Max Darling.  Annie is a down to earth pragmatic soul from a less fortunate background, while Max has lived life in the fast lane with seemingly endless wealth.  The quintessential idle wealthy man about town, Max is actually far more intelligent than most people give him credit for.  And when he teams up with Annie, they're a force to be reckoned with.  I love the combination of Max and Annie, and the way she gets so frustrated with him. 

But, with the murder of a much detested author occurs in her bookshop, Annie herself becomes the prime suspect in this mystery.  With a police chief who is a real hard arse, who lets his emotions rule his investigation, tries to pin more than one death on Annie's head, it is Max who comes to her rescue... much to her annoyance.  Max is a peach, trying to support his girl - well, girl to be {he hopes} - yet Annie's continued sleuthing sets a cat among the pigeons and sets a killer on her trail.

Well written, fast paced, and with interesting characters, and good dialogue, this cosy mystery series is a must for anyone who wants to add a good whodunit series to their bookshelves.  Plus, there is also a nostalgia thing that happens for anyone born before the internet became a 'thing', as we get to read about those the new gadgets like the Apple computer, or a car phone the size of a brick, that we take for granted today, but were such a revelation and time saver at the time these books were being written.

A solid start to the series.



Until next time,
 

Book Review || As You Wish

As You Wish 
Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride 
Cary Elwes {with Joe Layden}

Published 14 Oct, 2014

Touchstone, Hardcover, 245p. (inc. b&w/col. photos, index)
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6402-3 

Standing on the stage for the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Princess Bride, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude and nostalgia.  It was a remarkable night and it brought back vivid memories of being part of what appears to have become a cult classic film about pirates and princesses, giants and jesters, cliffs of insanity, and of course rodents of unusual size.

It truly was as fun to make the movie as it is to watch, from getting to work on William Goldman's brilliant screenplay to being directed by the inimitable Rob Reiner.  It is not an exaggeration to say that most days on set were exhilarating, from wrestling Andre the Giant, to the impossibility of playing mostly dead with Billy Crystal cracking jokes above me, to choreographing the Greatest Sword Fight in Modern Times with Mandy Patinkin, to being part of the Kiss That Left All the Others Behind with Robin Wright.

In this book I've gathered many more behind-the-scenes stories and hopefully answers to many of the questions we've all received over the years from fans.  Additionally, Robin, Billy, Rob, and Mandy, as well as Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Fred Savage, Chris Sarandon, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, and William Goldman graciously share their own memories and stories from making this treasured film.

If you'd like to know a little bit more about the making of The Princess Bride as seen through the eyes of a young actor who got much more than he bargained for, along with the rest of this brilliant cast, then all I can say is . . . as you wish.

 




I had been eyeing off this memoir ever since I saw a book review by Jo ReadsBooks {WATCH HERE}.  I had no idea that this was even a thing, and since I've been watching the movie since the late 80's, this was a must have.  Then, way back in April, I found it!  Yes, I came across it by accident at Big W while visiting family on the coast.  I was searching for something else - and there it was.  Just sitting on a stand looking at me.  One lone copy of 80's fantasy perfection. Of course I had to buy it.  It was in hardcover!!!!   


Now before I even get into my thoughts on the book I just want to spend a minute gushing about the gorgeous cover art - and the surprise poster on the reverse side of the dust jacket (I wasn't expecting that and want to find a copy of it online so I can print it out as I don't want to damage the dust jacket).  And that cover photo of Cary as Wesley, in his Dread Pirate Roberts disguise, is so iconic... and yes, Wesley does look like a blonde Erroll Flynn.

However, once I started to read the book I found myself going back in time.  Ah, the 80's... scrunchies, bubble skirts, Molly Ringwald and school holidays.  This book brings back so many memories.  This was no more evident that when I came to the parts dealing with Andre the Giant as I can remember sitting on the floor beside my grandfather's chair, watching Andre wrestling on TV.  As I said, this book has a huge nostalgia thing happening.

I think because of the memories it evoked, I would have loved this book even if it had been badly written, but the behind the scenes memories, snippets from other cast members - and if I'm honest, I could 'hear' Cary's voice as I was reading this! - made As You Wish a real trip down memory lane and I loved it.

His writing style was easy going, and made the book a very fast read for me as I devoured it.  There are pictures, but not nearly as many behind the scenes shots as I'd like, and I was a little disappointed at the paper quality as I thought this would have been much nicer on a glossy paper.  However, those are my pet peeves, and the only reason that I didn't give this a 5 star rating.

So while not an autobiography by any means, this memoir is a must if you want to get a well written behind the scenes look of the filming of The Princess Bride - or you just love Cary Elwes.  If that is the case, then I'd urge you to run and grab a copy of this book (or download the audiobook).

Definitely one for the fans ;-D



Until next time,

December 10, 2015

Anita Blake #25 Announced!

Just discovered that the 25th book in the Anita Blake series has been listed on Goodreads and Book Depository.  


Crimson Death
In her twenty-fifth adventure, vampire hunter and zombie raiser Anita Blake learns how far she’ll go to save someone she loves…
When Damian—Anita’s sometimes lover, servant, and friend—is kidnapped, Anita heads to Ireland. There she must face off against the vampire who created him. M’Lady, Moroven, Nemhain… under every name she brings terror and destruction. But Anita brings her own weapon to the party: Edward, the man known as Death itself…

Sadly, there is no cover art available yet.  I will post an image as soon as it becomes available.

Crimson Death will be available from June 07, 2016.

Until next time,
 

All Souls Review - Part 3: The Book of Life





The Book of Life 
All Souls Trilogy, Book 3
Deborah Harkness

Published: 2014

Headline, Trade, 
ISBN:


After traveling through time in "Shadow of Night," the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from "A Discovery of Witches"--with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy's final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


December 9, 2015

Book Review || Chamomile Mourning


Chamomile Mourning
A Tea Shop Mystery #6
Laura Childs

Published: March 2006

Berkley Prime Crime, mass market pbk, 306p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-20618-8

Charleston, South Carolina, is alive with music, dancing, and the arts as the Spoleto festival gets underway  But Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning feels far from festive when the inaugural Poet's Tea is forced into one of the Heritage Society's austere halls by rain.  And when it rains, it pours - as proven when a respected auction house owner plummets from the balcony, landing dead on Theodosia's specially-prepared cake.  Worse yet, it looks like someone helped him over the edge.  With a full kettle of suspects, Theodosia pursues an investigation into the murky swamps of the Low Country, where she uncovers a thriving criminal enterprise of art forgery, fraud - and murder...

 
 





What I liked?  Well, this is the book where Parker is introduced.  I liked him more than Jory as a character, but he's still not stellar.

The relationship between Theo and Drayton is also very sweet and paternal.  Earl Grey is always a favourite.  Such a sweet and loyal friend to Theo, and so adorable in his role as a service dog in the nursing home and hospital.

Those recipes people!  I don't think I have to say anything else on that score.  I only wish that I had a tea shop like this near me.

But on the flip side...

I say this for every book.  Theo needs to learn how to say 'NO!' to people.  She is such a people-pleaser that I find this aspect of her personality very frustrating.  Also, Delaine is such a selfish and pushy person that I wish she'd develop laryngitis, or take a world cruise, at some stage so we could have some Delaine-free time.

Theo's insatiable curiosity - and the need to stick her nose into a police investigation - is very predictable plot device and really I think there needs to be a shake-up of what's happening in the story arc in general.

Unfortunately I've had to read these books out of order.  My library only has a few, and I pick them up where I can so I've been all over the place in terms of continuity.  However, Theo has remained a constant character with no extremes of behaviour so reading books out of order is not such a huge deal.  The only glitch is the spoilers as to whom she is currently dating if you happen to pick up a book further on in the series.

So, despite all the gripes that I have about this series in the way the characters never seem to develop and lose some of their more annoying traits, I do enjoy diving into the world of the Indigo Tea Shop.  Will definitely be filling in the gaps in my bookshelves, and eagerly await getting my hands on the latest book.


Not the best book in the series, but a good way to spend an hour or two.

Overall I rate this book

Oh, and if you can recommend a good cosy mystery series then please let me know in the comments  down below.  I'm in desperate need of a new series to sink my teeth into ;-D

Until next time,
 

Book Review || Tricky Twenty-Two


Tricky Twenty-Two
Stephanie Plum #22
Janet Evanovich

Published: 16 Nov, 2015

Headline, Trade, 280p.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-0165-2

Something big is brewing in Trenton, New Jersey, and it could blow at any minute.

Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played.  Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), the unofficial student leader of the notorious Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College.  Gobbles has missed his court date and has gone into hiding.  People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk.  Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college.

As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug LInken.  When Linken is gunned down in his backyard, the list of possible murder suspects is long.  The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Kinked, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve...




NOTE: this will contain SPOILERS as I can't avoid them if I want to give you a full run down of what I thought of this book.






So much happened in this book that I almost don't know where to start.   After having numerous problems with the declining quality over the last couple of years, I was half dreading this book.  Thankfully Evanovich has really upped her game and addressed some of the issues that were becoming a real problem with the series.

The main change comes with character development.  Two major changes occur in Tricky Twenty-Two.  Firstly, in a twist I couldn't have anticipated, Morelli dumps Stephanie!  Yes, the hot Italian cop dropped this bomb out of the blue - and thought that the time to tell her they should see other people was while they were in bed... right after they'd had sex! So, for the rest of the book Stephanie and Morelli are broken up - for mysterious reasons that he's not telling anyone!  I was so shocked to read this that I literally stared at that paragraph for a good 2 minutes.  24 hours later, and I was still having trouble getting my mind around this!

Secondly, is the rethink of Stephanie's continued klutziness in recapturing FTA's.  In the first couple of books, Stephanie was a newbie bounty hunter, so of course we were expecting her to be totally inept.  However, when it was still happening in Eleven on Top it was becoming monotonous to have your main character as the comic relief.  She was still getting thrown into tables of food - or garbage bins! - and the only person more inept than Stephanie was Lula.  She's been at this for years now and so I would expect that she should have gained some skills!  It's not good to have your female lead to always be rescued by the hot ex-Special Forces guy.  So when I read that not only was Stephanie able to rescue herself, and another character, as well as take down the lawn mowing FTA in short order, I took heart that perhaps some of Stephanie's shortcomings regarding this issue will finally be rectified.

As well as the above major plot points, here are a few other changes that I took note of:
  • Mrs Plum tackles the killer - and beats the crap out of him! - and finally admits that she gets why Stephanie doesn't quit.  Yes, it's only taken 22 books (and 20 years) for Stephanie to get some validation.
  • Stephanie actually baked a cake... and it was edible!  She didn't really find it a fulfilling experience, but she did it!
  • Self defence and firearm training is now on Stephanie's to-do list (or so she says).
  • Morelli and Stephanie are finally more open to getting married at some stage in the future.
  • Surprising health issues raised for Morelli.  This is the issue that sends his relationship with Stephanie into splitsville.
  • Ella tells Stephanie that she is the only woman to come to Ranger's place!
  • We finally get a reason for Lula being such a terrible shot.  She has glasses that she won't wear as it's not a good fashion choice.
  •  Sexual tension between Stephanie and Ranger is a little bland.  A hint of things to come, or just the calm before the storm?

I took all of these as a sign that I should not give up on this series.  After all, I have been reading this series for nearly 12 years, and I have invested far too much time, energy - not to mention money! - to give up on Stephanie, Ranger and Morelli now.  Evanovich has made a few seemingly minor, but much needed, tweeks that pretty much guarantee I will be looking forward to Book 23 all that much more.

Stephanie Plum is a great series if you want something that's fast, straight forward, uncomplicated, funny and light to read.  While I love the earlier books more, Tricky Twenty-Two lets me believe that there is still some get up and go in this series.



Until next time,

All Souls Review - Part 2: Shadow of Night




Shadow of Night 
All Souls Trilogy, Book 2
Deborah Harkness

Published: 2012

Headline, Trade,
ISBN:


In a world of witches, daemons and vampires the fragile balance of peace is unravelling. Diana and Matthew's forbidden love has broken the laws dividing creatures. To discover the manuscript which holds their hope for the future, they must now travel back to the past. When Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont. 

Now the coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...

December 1, 2015

Huge hail storm



Yesterday we had a doozy of a hail storm hit.  It started as just a really wild storm, and then the clouds went a funky brown/sepia colour and the hail started to fall!  It got so bad at one point when the winds shifted that I was getting wet on my balcony - and that's only happened about 5 times in the 4 years I've lived here!




Once the hail really started to come down, I got my butt inside and started to film out the window beside my front door.  The hail was just smashing down, and it was so heavy that I my ears hurt from the continuous bashing of the hail on the tin roof.  It was over in about 15 minutes, but during that time I was worried whether or not I would have a roof at the end.




This is the closest I'm ever going to get to snow in QLD, but this was also a hell of a lot scarier ;-D

Until next time,


November 11, 2015

T5W || Books I DNF'd




Hi!  Long time, no see ;-D

This week I'm just going to jump straight into the topic - books I DNF'd.  It's weird when a book you love finds it's way onto the DNF list of someone else, however I really did not find the following books appealing in any way - so much so that after a few chapters I just couldn't force myself to read any more.

A quick disclaimer.  The following titles are in no particular order.  These are my own personal opinions.  You may love these and that's great, however for whatever reason, they just weren't my cup of tea.


I know a lot of people will gasp in horror at finding Fangirl and Sharp Objects on my list, but I really disliked both of these.  Fangirl I just found to be too YA for me.  Sharp Objects is the first Gillian Flynn book that I read, and because of that I'm not keen on picking up Gone Girl (even though I own it!).  Guilded, Phoenix Rising and Unholy Ghosts I found to the main characters to be extremely unlikable and I really didn't care what happened.  

So, that was my lightning quick T5W for this week.  Let me know in the comments if you agree with any of my choices.

As always, T5W was created by the lovely Lainey over at GINGERREADSLAINEY and I'll include a link to the Goodreads group {HEREif you would also like to participate. 

Until next time, 
 

November 9, 2015

Christmas starting early this year

 
Hello my lovelies!
 
This is just going to be a rambling entry as I just can't seem to get myself into a bookish mood.  Still waiting for new things to arrive in the post, but I will show you three of my favourite non-bookish thngs I found this week.  
 
I'm getting into the Christmas Spirit early this year so I wanted to show you all my latest finds.  Firstly, I saw this online and immediately called my mum to see if she could find it in her area (I don't have a K-Mart here!) and yes, she bought it for me ;-D  I love it, and it is sitting on a box beside my computer desk until I decide exactly where I want it.  Then on Saturday I saw this cute Christmas ornaments, a little felt bird, and had to have it, then I remembered I'd seen some sweet hanging mason jars for candles a few days before, so I bought one to go along with the red theme I've got going this year.  I wanted things to decorate my bookshelves with, but they have instead found their way into my bedroom.  I've got the bird hanging from my lacy curtain, and the candle holder is currently on the box next to the ampersand light.
 
On the bookish side of things after the success of last weekend's TBR only reading binge, I just haven't really been feeling like picking up any other books from my massive TBR pile.  Instead I've been spending waaaay too much time on YouTube, and rereading some of my favourite books.  It's become a bit of a problem.

I was planning on doing something about that today, but it's overcast, and quite chilly for November!, so I'm sitting back on the bed, watching YouTube.  There  are plenty of things that really need to get done, but the weather has saved me from laundry duty, however I should have gone to the store this morning for a few groceries, but have decided to put that off until tomorrow so I can bask in the glory that is spending a lazy morning in bed so I can make the most of my favourite weather ;-D

Hoping that the postman delivers a book or two today - I ordered another handful of books, yeah! - and am still debating whether or not I should read the Song of Ice and Fire books before watching the TV series.  Yes, I still haven't read/watched it... and I own the books and seasons 1-4 on Blu-ray! {hmmm, a little off topic there}  So, I've got a myriad of bookish things to get done, read, or watch, but just can't seem to summon the enthusiasm to start any of it.  

Do you feel this way at times?  Let me know down below if you do, and what worked to get you out of your reading funk.

Until next time,

 
 
 
 

November 4, 2015

End of October Wrap-Up




I ended up reading quite a few books off my TBR pile over the last 3 days of this month.  Started off when I woke up early on Thursday morning, and picked up Magnus Chase - which was sitting on the desk near my bed - and by 5:30am I was well and truly engrossed in the world that Rick Riordan had created.

It only took me just over 3½ hours to complete!  So while I got up and finally got my breakfast, I decided to read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  While not as fabulous as Magnus Chase, I did enjoy this first book in Ransom Rigg's trilogy.

October 23, 2015

Not getting hardcover!


Yep, it's official.  I won't be getting the hardcover of Six of Crows.  After I updated you all on the news that Book Depository were sending the hardcover edition my way (so excited!), the next morning I got an email to say that there had been a mix up with the publishers/information - and the book I ordered was not supposed to be listed as a hardcover.  

Bummer.

So, I will be getting a refund instead.  I'm a tad miffed that I won't be getting the book in hardcover, but the trade is just as nice so I'll stick with that.

On the plus side, the staff at Book Depository were very quick to answer emails, and even emailed me back to update me on the mix up (and offered refund).  Thank you, Book Depository ;-D

Until next time,