Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published January 22nd 2009)
ISBN 0141031522 (ISBN13: 9780141031521)

Blurb: "What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? How would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers today? We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman enslaved and taken to the New World, movingly recounting experiences of tremendous hardship and the dreams of the people she has left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.
A poignant and dramatic story grounded in provocative ideas, "Blonde Roots" is a genuinely original, profoundly imaginative novel."

I was really intrigued when I read the blurb of this book, I thought it would be really interesting and moving but I was really disappointed by it. While it was thought-provoking and moving at times, it didn't capture my imagination in the same way that Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman did (an amazing book from what I remember, it has been quite a long time since I read it).

I thought it was clever that mid-way through the novel the narrative swapped to the opinion of Chief Kaga and it was horrifying to see how easily ideas could be twisted and people made to seem less than human simply because they are different from you. Additionally from a historical perspective it gave insight into what life as a slave may have been like from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries (although obviously some aspects would have changed and this is not a factual account).

However, I found it very confusing that the author did not leave the countries where they are in reality, she swapped Africa and Europe around and moved the Equator. This really threw me and made following the story more difficult. However, I did like the Africanised (if that's a word) London (or Londolo in the book) tube stations. However, the fact that it is meant to be set in the eighteenth century made it confusing when they had technology that seemed too modern in the book, whilst the European people were portrayed as living lives like that of the fourteenth century when the majority of the population were serfs. The story would have worked better if she had created fictional countries and made the time setting more cohesive. Although I do understand that she was trying to portray European people as less sophisticated.

While I did care about Doris' character, really wanting her to escape, and the stories of the characters were tragic and moving, there was just something missing in this book for me. It was good but unsatisfying, I can't really explain it. Also, the ending was disappointing and seemed to end quite quickly as well. This book was only a 5 out of 10 for me, it had the potential to be a lot better!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Hardcover, 323 pages
Published October 11th 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published October 1st 2012)
ISBN 1444734148 (ISBN13: 9781444734140)

Miranda's introduction to the book:
"Well hello to you dear browser. Now I have your attention it would be rude if I didn't tell you a little about my literary feast. So, here is the thing: is it just me or does anyone else find that adulthood offers no refuge from the unexpected horrors, peculiar lack of physical coordination and sometimes unexplained nudity, that accompanied childhood and adolescence?

Does everybody struggle with the hazards that accompany, say, sitting elegantly on a bar stool; using chopsticks; pretending to understand the bank crisis; pedicures - surely it's plain wrong for a stranger to fondle your feet? Or is it just me?

I am proud to say I have a wealth of awkward experiences - from school days to life as an office temp - and here I offer my 18-year-old self (and I hope you too dear reader) some much needed caution and guidance on how to navigate life's rocky path.

Because frankly where is the manual? The much needed manual to life. Well, fret not, for this is my attempt at one and let's call it, because it's fun, a Miran-ual. I thank you.

Miranda Hart made her mark appearing in shows including Smack the Pony, Absolutely Fabulous and Not Going Out. But when her sitcom Miranda burst on to our screens in 2009, her popularity rocketed. Miranda has since been crowned the Queen of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards and the hit series Miranda has won two further comedy awards, two RTS Awards, and been nominated for four BAFTAs. Miranda is currently filming a drama for BBC based on the bestselling memoir Call the Midwife. The third series of Miranda will air in autumn 2012."

For this review, I have decided to take a leaf out of Miranda's book, her Miranual, and address you as My Dear Reader Chum, which seems very fitting in the circumstances as I am guessing that looking at my blog you love reading too, hurrah!

So, My Dear Reader Chum, as anyone who read my post for the Liebster blog award will know, I love Miranda, she is amazing and I would quite happily be her best friend and play snack-fishing with her (a reference to her show for those who are confused). Reading her book was just like watching her in her show - her writing is the same as the way she speaks. You can really feel her enthusiasm and positivity about making the world a better place, even when you're feeling down. The book is funny and thought-provoking at the same time.

I wasn't sure if I would like her conversations with her younger self in the book but they definitely grew on me as the book progressed. Although occasionally I thought the conversations could have been a little shorter.

I really liked Miranda's pit stops in the book. This, MDRC, was where she took a breather from the main content of the book to create a checklist of the really random things that she does to see if you have done any of them too. I could tick off quite a lot of them, which is a little worrying but also weirdly makes me feel proud of myself for my clumsiness and occasional social awkwardness!

Miranda covers the following topics in her book: Life, music, hobbies, office life (she comes up with great office games, I fully support the idea of everyone leaving the office at lunch to play hopscotch outside), technology, beauty, bodies, exercise, diets, health, holidays, christmas, dogs, mothers and children, dating, weddings, culture, and dreams. So she clearly covers most aspects of life, although books were sadly missing!

As well as being really funny, Miranda makes some really astute observations in her book aswell. I love that she so fully supports being true to yourself and encourages you to follow your dreams. Her chapter on diets is brilliant, she writes:

"I have written the only diet book that I believe needs to exist, and here it is:
Chapter One: Eat a bit less.
Chapter Two: Move about a bit more.
The End."

This is so true. I think all of the diet books that exist today are just ridiculous really.

There are so many great things about this book, and I can't even remember all the times I sat there reading and thinking, yes definitely and phew, it's not just me, whenever Miranda asked "Is it just me?" All I can really do MDRC is recommend you read it, both for a giggle and to feel better about life.

Overall, MDRC, I would have to reply to Miranda that no, it is definitely not just her!

8 out of 10 :)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Paperback, 316 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Puffin Books (first published November 2011)
ISBN 0141345659 (ISBN13: 9780141345659)

Synopsis: "Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love."

This book is like an emotional tsunami that leaves you feeling bruised and raw at the end of it. I had to stop myself from crying in the middle of a crowded train while reading it. It's the sort of book that changes you and as you finish you don't think you will ever recover from it. I fell in love with the characters and felt like I was there with them through their struggles. I wish I could be as strong and witty as they are. I have never been in their situation but this book makes me want to live life to the fullest, because you never know what is going to happen next. It makes me want to be brave.

I now want to read everything John Green has ever written and I want him to write more and deliver it immediately to my door.

I could not find anything to dislike about this book, apart from never wanting it to end. However, I just want to say I understand that it is fictional and that this does not fully represent real-life cancer experiences. I just know that it meant a lot to me. It is simply amazing, I can't say any more. 10 out of 10.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Crossed by Ally Condie

Paperback, 375 pages
Published 2012 by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin (first published November 1st 2011)
ISBN 9780141340104

"The Society chooses everything.
The books you read. The music you listen to. The person you love.

Yet for Cassia the rules have changed. Ky has been taken and she will sacrifice everything to find him.

And when Cassia discovers Ky has escaped to the wild frontiers beyond the Society there is hope.

But on the edge of society nothing is as it seems... A rebellion is rising.

And a tangled web of lies and double-crosses could destroy everything."

This was a bit of a transition book. A lot happened in it and you learnt a lot about the characters, with more characters being introduced who added interesting dynamics to the story. But at the same time, you could sense that it was really building up to the final book in the trilogy, which should be exciting, although I have no idea what is going to happen. I'm enjoying the series as it is not always immediately apparent what the characters are going to choose to do, not because they aren't well developed, but because they are in difficult situations and the author makes it clear that they have conflicting emotions about the events that take place in this book.

I enjoyed reading parts of the story from Ky's point of view, these gave a lot more insight into his history and his character. I also really liked the conflicting opinions on the rebellion and what it could mean for each character. There was also more information about the history of the Society and how it started, with some people choosing to live outside of it and who are posing a threat to the Society in this book.

I really liked this book, but I think that the next one will be better. I would give this 7 out of 10.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Paperback, 1024 pages
Published 1993 by Wordsworth Editions (first published 1865)
ISBN 1853260622 (ISBN13: 9781853260629)

"This title is translated by Louise & Aylmer Maude. With an Introduction by Henry and Olga Claridge, University of Kent at Canterbury, "War and Peace" is a vast epic centred on Napoleon's war with Russia. While it expresses Tolstoy's view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence, he peoples his great novel with a cast of over five hundred characters. Three of these, the artless and delightful Natasha Rostov, the world-weary Prince Andrew Bolkonsky and the idealistic Pierre Bezukhov illustrate Tolstoy's philosophy in this novel of unquestioned mastery. This translation is one which received Tolstoy's approval."

Well frankly, I did question the mastery of this one, I really had to force myself to finish it. It had moments of being ok, when I would think aha we're getting somewhere, but then it would drift back into mindnumbing information. As Tolstoy, himself said, this really isn't a novel, it is an 'it', of astoundingly frustrating proportions - my words, not his. Most of the time I wanted to burn it and I imagined various violent deaths for Tolstoy to prevent him from writing it, but sadly he has long been deceased. Similarly, I wanted to smack most of his characters round the head, the men for being stupid and the women for being vapid (haha that rhymes) and genuinely, I am not normally a violent person at all.

If you do decide to read it, don't bother with the second epilogue unless you want to read more of Tolstoy's ideas about history and causality in a seemingly never-ending waffle of questions and what-ifs.

Saying all this, I am proud to say that I have read it, and even more so to say that I finished it! I will give this 3 out of 10. The only reason it gets more than one is that Tolstoy was clearly very clever, so possibly if you enjoy reading a myriad of theoretical ideas about war then you might enjoy it. Also, as a history graduate I did find it interesting to learn a little more about the Russian war, defending against French invasion, the way it was written just did not appeal to me at all. It probably didn't help that I read this just after I finished my degree, I probably should have read it when I had recovered. Nevertheless, I'm never reading it again!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Liebster Blog Award

I would like to thank four lovely people for nominating me for this award, it was such a great surprise when I found out!
1. YA Midnight Reads
2. Weakling No. 14
3. Amy BookWorm
4. Bookaholic Corner

They all have such amazing blogs and I hope mine will improve and someday be like theirs!

The Liebster Award is given to bloggers who have under 200 followers. The presenter should give it to blogs that should be recognised. 'Liebster' in German means best so I guess this award is for the best blog in your opinion.

1. Thank your Liebster Award presenter and link back to them in your own post
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by your presenter, state 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees
3. Present the Liebster Award to 11 bloggers who you think deserve the award with under 200 followers and leave a comment on their blog telling them that you nominated them.
4. Copy and Paste the award on your blog

I have a lot of questions to get through, so here goes!

Questions from YA Midnight Reads:
1.What is your biggest pet peeve?
People walking really slowly and taking up the whole pavement without moving aside for other people. Also, people who talk in the cinema.
2.What do you like to do other than reading?
Watch tv and films, play the flute, meet up with friends, explore new places.
3.Do you have a habit of buying lots and lots of books?
Yes! It is becoming a bit of an issue space-wise in my room. Four bookshelves is not enough!!
4.What is your guilty obsession?
Umm reading haha. Also, I love watching The Vampire Diaries
5.Do you have a piercing?
My ears are pierced.
6.Are you a morning person?
Definitely not!
7.What is the funniest joke you've ever heard?
On the TV show Miranda, her friend gives her a muffin to eat which she takes a big bite out of and then spits out. She then says “Savoury muffins?! Savoury muffins?! I don’t know you anymore, Gary”. It’s funnier when you watch it...
8.What is your favourite childhood book?
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
9.Do you still like to watch children's TV shows?
Not really, although it’s funny watching really old ones back sometimes.
10.How long do you spend blogging a day?
I don’t blog everyday at the moment, I’ve only just started and I’m still trying to figure things out.
11.Do you think that dogs are better than cats?
Dogs as a species are better, but friendly cats are lovely too!

Questions from Weakling No. 14:
The 11 questions from :
1. Create your own bad boy character.
I will call him Sean Harrison, he’s tall with dark hair and green eyes. Funny and sarcastic, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him.
2. Do you want Selena Gomez and Justin Beiber to be together?
I have to say that I don’t really care. If people will stop talking about it I will say no.
3. Are you subscribed to any YouTubers? If so, who?
Ummm no I don’t have a youtube account.
4. Your favourite piece of lyrics.
At the moment it’s: “On the green bank I sit contented and I do not want to roam, and you will often catch me smiling happy, on the green bank I call my home” by The Man Who Loves You (a small band from Plymouth, England)
5. What's the one thing you love about yourself, without any doubt?
Going for physical traits, I love the colour of my eyes, they seem like a normal brown colour, but in the light they’re kind of a golden brown with a dark edge.
6. Is there anything about yourself you wish you could change?
I wish I could be more confident and chatty.
7. Worcester Sauce or Roast Chicken?
Roast Chicken.
8. Favourite item of clothing? (Mine is my pyjamas and ankle socks...Thats two, but I can't choose :P)
I really like my onesie that I got for Christmas. It’s white with Christmassy patterns in red, including reindeer. It’s comfy, even if I can’t wear it out of the house.
9. Favourite book cover?
That’s a tough one! I really like the covers of the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking
10. Favourite heroine?
Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
11. Which do you like better on books, bylines or covers? (I just love me a good byline ;P)
The covers, because that’s the first thing that makes me notice a book, even if I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!

Questions from Amy BookWorm:
1.Do you like this colour font?
Yes (Sorry I couldn't work out how to keep it in my post!)
2.What foreign languages do you speak?
French and Italian
3.Favourite type of music?
4.What is your favourite book with a movie adaptation? And why?
Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, because it’s so well made, funny and really well acted.
5. Do you enter book giveaways? If so, how many have you won?
I haven't yet
6. Do you ever smell books? If not, is it because you prefer digital books?
Yes I love the smell of books, particularly old ones in libraries.
7. Hardcover or paperback?
Hardbacks are prettier but paperbacks are easier to read and cheaper, so I'd choose paperback.
8.A book you didn’t finish...?
I think I always finish books, but I wish I hadn't finished War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy! It was awful! I will post a review soon.
9.How do you order your bookshelves/bookcase(s)?
It varies, sometimes it's alphabetically by author surname, other times it's by genre.
10.Favourite short story/novella?
I don't read many of these, but I enjoyed Barbara Erskine's collection of short stories in Encounters.
11.Do you count these in your books read total?
Yes. Although Encounters would only count as one.

Finally, questions from Bookaholic Corner:
The 11 questions for my nominees are:
1.What was the book that got you to fall in love with reading?
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. I also loved The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy.
2.What's a book you decided to read by judging it's cover?
Matched by Ally Condie, it looked really interesting.
3.What's a book that you read, but did not like?
As I mentioned before, War and Peace - don't bother, people!
4.What is your biggest pet peeve?
See above :)
5.Have any funny jokes you wanna share?
I'm not good at telling jokes, I think it's better when funny things happen in everyday life.
6.What other hobbies do you have, other than reading?
I play the flute and I used to be in a concert band. I need to join a new one now that I've finished university.
7.What book are you currently reading?
Crossed by Ally Condie and Is it just me? by Miranda Hart. I'm reading two because I can't carry Miranda's book on the train - it's a heavy hardback!
8.What is your favorite book?
This is so hard!! I love so many books. I really love Persuasion by Jane Austen.
9.If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Egypt to see the pyramids. Or Rome, because I speak Italian and I have never been to Italy.
10.What have you always wanted to do in your life, but haven't done yet?
Go in to space... don't think that's going to happen somehow.
11.Why did you decide to start a blog?
So that I think more about the books I've read after I finish them. I think I remember them better now.

So, now that I've gone through all of those, my 11 random facts are:
1. I hate Marmite
2. I love chocolate
3. I wear contact lenses
4. I have flown a plane :)
5. I wish I could do magic
6. I'm doing work experience at Penguin publishers at the moment
7. I have a bright yellow 'Keep Calm and Carry a Wand' canvas on my bedroom wall
8. I don't really like the colour pink...
9. I cry when I get angry and hate confrontation
10. I hate clothes shopping - I know weird girl right?
11. I collect bookmarks from all the places I visit :)

My 11 nominees are:
1. My lovely friend Rachel at The One With Rachel's Book
2. Untitled
3. The Readingista
4. Out of this World Book Reviews
5. Babbling of a Bookaholic
6. The Book Diaries
7. Sitting With A Book
8. Lost in Wonderland
9. In The Land of Books
10. Fantasia Books
11. The Armchair Librarian

My questions for my nominees are:
1. What are you reading now?
2. Who is your favourite author?
3. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
4. What is the thing you're most proud of?
5. What are your hobbies, other than reading?
6. What is your favourite film?
7. Chocolate or sweets?
8. Are there any books that you have started but not finished?
9. Do you have a favourite band? If so, who?
10. What was the book that got you to fall in love with reading?
11. What foreign languages do you speak?

Congratulations! Remember to link back :)

Happy reading everyone!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Published January 1st 2013 by Puffin Books (first published March 31st 2001)
ISBN 0141346140 (ISBN13: 9780141346144)

Blurb: "There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."

I'm not really sure what I think about this book. I enjoyed reading it and I really liked that the story was told from the guy's point of view, it made a welcome change from the usual 'I'm a girl, I have powers, I don't feel like I fit in' type book (although I do enjoy those too). However, the story took a long time to really get going and I was never completely engrossed by the characters or their situation. It felt like they went round in circles a lot.

Lena: I'm going to turn evil and there's nothing I can do to stop it.
Ethan: I love you anyway but we'll find a way to stop it.
Lena: My family won't tell me anything and I'm going to turn evil like my cousin who used to be my best friend. I just want to be normal.
Ethan: I like that you're different from everyone else. We'll find some solution. Everyone else is an idiot.

This is pretty much how the whole story goes, while adding in a few ancestors who had the same issues and caused the curse and crazy families in the present. I just think that this book would have been a lot better if they condensed the story a bit. On the plus side though, the characters benefited from the book being so long as you knew a lot about their thoughts and feelings.

Having said all of this, I did like Ethan and Lena and I did grow to care about what happened to them. Lena's cousin Ridley was an interesting character and definitely added a lot to the story. While her uncle Macon (whose name I never figured out how to read in my head - does it sound like bacon or the french maison? Does anybody know?), with his dog Boo Radley, were enigmatic and added more mystery and glamour to the plot.

As I have said, while there were parts of this book that I didn't like, I did really enjoy the idea behind the book and the question of fate versus choice. In the end I would probably give this book 6.5 out of 10. Did anyone else feel the same way about it?

Matched by Ally Condie

Paperback, 366 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Razorbill (first published November 30th 2010)
ISBN 0141333052 (ISBN13: 9780141333052)

Blurb: "On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. The Society dictates that he is her perfect partner for life, except he's not.

In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love.
How many children they have.
Where they work.
When they die.

But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy,
she is determined to make some choices of her own.

And that's when her whole world
begins to unravel..."

Goodreads has really mixed reviews for this book so I wasn't sure if I would like it or not but I really enjoyed it, it's such a good book! It's one of those stories that really draws you in. I really like the writing style and the characters are interesting. I particularly liked the relationship between Cassia and her grandfather.

This is kind of a Nineteen Eighty-Four for young adults. Obviously, George Orwell's books are in another league to this but nevertheless the story poses questions about society and how you think you would act in those circumstances.

Some reviewers had a problem with the questions about the Society that are left unanswered, but I think that adds to the environment that the author wanted to create. It's all about information control, if the characters knew everything and could become more involved than it would be more of a democracy. In the Society, information is closely guarded and no-one is allowed to speak about their jobs to people in different areas so that no one person has the knowledge to complete a whole process, like growing food. It makes people reliant on the system. Anyway, rant over, I just think that the book is really cleverly planned and doesn't deserve the criticism it has received from some. The fact that the Society seems so perfect at first glance is what makes it more worrying the further you read as you notice more and more that isn't quite adding up.

On a lighter note, I really liked Cassia's relationship with both Xander and Ky, and I can understand why she is torn. I also love that the written word is such a liberating part of the story (you'll have to read it to find out what I mean).

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series and finding out what happens next. I'd give this book 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Secret Supper Club by Dana Bate

Paperback, 480 pages
Published December 6th 2012 by Canvas
ISBN 1472102312 (ISBN13: 9781472102317)

"If twenty-six-year-old Hannah Sugarman had her way, she'd be whipping up carrot cakes and running her culinary empire. Instead, she spends her hours cooking up papers on the financial crisis. It doesn't help that no one in her life takes her passion seriously - not even her boyfriend.

When her relationship implodes, Hannah decides to jump-start her life by hosting a secret supper club out of her landlord's flat. Her underground operation presents some problems. Running an unlicensed restaurant out of someone's home is not, technically speaking, legal.

As the success of Hannah's supper club grows, so do the number of secrets she is forced to keep. Can Hannah keep her pop-up restaurant underground? When mysterious guests turn up for dinner, can she handle the heat? Or will she have to step out of the kitchen? A charming romantic comedy, The Secret Supper Club is a story about finding yourself, fulfilling your dreams, and falling in love along the way.

(Note: This is the UK edition of THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS)"

I just want to say that I loved this book. It was really fun and I could really relate to Hannah. The author really made her seem like a real person, there was so much depth and history to who she was. I liked that she was unsure of herself and sometimes didn't know if her life was going in the right direction. I think that the way Hannah deals with her parents' conflicting expectations of her was really good. How she develops in the book is great and at times so funny I was chuckling to myself on the train, which was a little awkward I can tell you! I also loved that she was a little bit crazy and couldn't stop it from showing, it's great to know you aren't the only one.

When I was first recommended this book I had my doubts about how good it would be, even though I knew that my friend and I have very similar tastes in books. I thought, secret supper clubs, what on earth are they? How do they work? Etc etc. However, the story behind this completely turned my thoughts around. Even though I'm not a massive foodie - chocolate is my main culinary passion - this makes me want to try new foods and flavour combinations. You can tell that the author is really passionate about food like her main character.

As the blurb says, this really is a charming romantic comedy, frothy and fun but with a story that answers questions that we all have about our lives. I give this a 9 out of 10. It left me feeling really happy and enthusiatic about life.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

White Rose Rebel by Janet Paisley

Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 5th 2008 by Penguin (first published 2007)
ISBN 0141026790 (ISBN13: 9780141026794)

"Anne Farquharson is a Highland girl – tempestuous, bold, determined to be her own woman. Yet the clan Farquharson is threatened. The Highlands suffer at the domineering hand of English King George, while there are rumours that Bonnie Prince Charlie, exiled to France, is raising an army in a bid for the throne.

When Anne marries a clan chief and creates a shaky alliance, she is doing more than taking his bed. Soon she is drawn into the heart of a brutal and bloody conflict, and as the Jacobite rebellion escalates, she and her husband find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield."

I read this while I was visiting Edinburgh in Scotland, what an amazing city, and it was great to get into the Scottish spirit with this! I must also add that I'm not at all biased that she is also an Anne - what a great name that is...

Anyway, this is great historical fiction! A good level of historical research has clearly been done but the story is well constructed to fill gaps in the historical evidence. The author creates characters that you really care about and she definitely made me want to learn more about Scottish history! Although she could have developed the relationship between Anne and her husband a little more at the beginning of the novel to make their interactions during the rebellion stronger.

Anne is a really interesting character and it's great to read about women (not just Anne's character) who made decisions for themselves and fought for what they believed in during this time, it's just a shame so much evidence about her life was destroyed during the course of time, or due to the patriarchal system, as the author argues.

I really enjoyed this book although it took me a while to really engage with the story and be drawn in to the world of the Jacobite rebellion. Therefore I think this deserves a 7 out of 10.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Paperback, 215 pages
Published May 24th 2012 by Headline (first published January 2nd 2012)
ISBN 0755384032 (ISBN13: 9780755384037)

"Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn’t forgotten the book. Or if there hadn’t been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn’t fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she’d run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else - the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn’t sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it’s the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver...

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it."

Having read loads of really positive reviews about this book I was expecting to really enjoy it. Unfortunately, this book just didn't seem to click with me. I didn't notice any sort of amazing connection between Hadley and Oliver, perhaps because their time together on the plane only seems to take up a few chapters. I think including more of their conversations on the plane might have made the romance more believable. I don't want to give away any spoilers so I can't comment too much more on their time together, but I did like their honesty with each other in the rest of the story.

Hadley's character also annoyed me a bit as she was really self-involved and didn't seem to consider anyone else's perspective. However, I did like how her difficult relationship with her Dad was resolved, those scenes were the most emotional in the book for me.

It's a sign that I didn't really enjoy it that it took me so long to read - it's a really short book but I didn't finish it for nearly a week. I wasn't that interested in finding out what happened. I would probably give it 4 out of 10 - it was a good idea, it just didn't really work for me. Did anyone else find that?