Book Review – Her Fearful Symmetry By Audrey Niffenegger

After enjoying her first book The Time Travellers Wife when it first came out several years ago I had high hopes when I picked this book up…

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As always we start with the Goodreads Blurb…

When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshold. But until the solicitor’s letter fall through the door of their suburban American home, neither Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The Twins hope that in London their own, separate, lives can finally begin but they have no idea that they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover, who lives below them and works in the cemetery itself.

As the twins unravel the secrets of their aunt, who doesn’t seem quite ready to leave her flat, even after death, Niffenegger weaves together a delicious and deadly ghost story about love, loss and identity.

This was one of those books that frustrates a reader for me, the first three quarters of the book is excellently crafted, building suspense and really introducing the characters to a level where they feel incredibly real, then it blows it.  The last quarter feels rushed, almost as if the writer realised the deadline was looming and wanted to tie up the loose ends, secrets that have intrigued throughout the book are explained away in a paragraph or two, and the final twists in the plot had the potential to offer so much more.

As a stand alone book I don’t think this works in the end, I would much rather have had a trilogy of books exploring the three key plot elements, say one for the relationship exploration for each pair of twins and one for the resolution than had the ending rushed the way it felt.  I was raving about this book as I read it right up to the last few chapters and I waited to reflect upon my feeling before reviewing to see if I changed my mind but sadly I did not it only added to my frustration.

The quality of writing is extremely high in general and the characterisation is brilliant, my only complaint is the timing in that final quarter.

If I had given a score at the three quarter mark it would have been a five but sadly that last quarter pulls the score down to a three and a half out of five for me.

 

gold-stars-3-5

Glossybox Review October 2015

First thing I have to say was I was very disappointed at the plain pink box, we were asked to vote for one of four designs plus another vote was for a lipstick colour so I mistakenly believed the box was for this month and the lipstick for next but am now guessing both are for next month, so the contents… (apologies for the photos this month my camera was having a hissy fit and just would not focus and get the colour right at the same time lol)

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Initial response was mixed a couple of things that excited me and a couple I was a little disappointed with but not everything was as it seemed…

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Lanolips Antibacterial Hand Cream

As you all know I work on a till so anything antibacterial comes in useful but I was not overly impressed to see another hand cream as I have plenty butI have to say this is a nice everyday hand lotion. As it is still early in terms of really cold wet weather I cannot judge how well it will do in the coming months but, right now on my hands as they are, it is nice.  At £8.99 it is expensive but if it delivers on the antibacterial part and keeps the germs at bay over the winter months it will be a good investment.

Next up…

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Jelly Pong Pong Fairy Lashes Curl Mascara

I was really excited when I saw this as the previous Jelly Pong Pong product I had received I loved, plus I needed a new mascara, sadly this is not the one for me. It has a very wet formula and does not give particularly good coverage, and I have to be honest at first I thought it was not waterproof as it smudges easily but then given the trouble I had getting it all off I am not sure what it is supposed to be but not sure I would even use this as a work day mascara.  My daughter also tried it and did not like it either so I can safely say at £17.95 I shall be spending my money on a different mascara rather than this.

One hit, one miss , up next…

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Talika Photo-Hydra Day

Okay so you have all heard me talk about the moisturiser I fell in love with and so far nothing has lived up to it, well this one does not either but it is actually a very nice day cream that works well under make up.  Like my favourite this is also French but at £24.85 it is significantly cheaper, so far I am liking this and it has not caused any issues with my skin so this could become a regular in my winter skin care routine.

Next up…

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So Susan Haute Light Highlighting Pencil

I have generally really liked the So Susan products I have come across but I was a little sceptical about this, the highlighters I have used so far had been powder, cream or liquid but never a pencil. I expected it to be hard to use but it actually smudges and blends really easily and although it is not a look that suits me it does line the eyes well also. At £15 it is expensive but will last for ages, personally I will use mine more around the eyes than on the cheekbone simply because of the colour tone and the fact I have one I use I love.

Last but not least…

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Nicka K Airbrush Blending Sponge

I may very well be the last person to get on the beauty blender train but I am kicking myself I left it this long.  I have used make up sponges for years, I really did not believe that these strange shaped blenders could really be that much better but I absolutely love it.  Now of course I should imagine the cheaper ones may not work quite so well and at £6.50 I could buy a couple of packs of sponges instead of just one of these but I am converted.  My foundation and concealer went on better, and both gave me better coverage using less product which is a money saver. I will definitely be getting one or two more of these the keep at hand and maybe one of the bigger ones just for foundation so I can use a separate one for concealer.

So basically the one product I was excited about was the one that let me down and the ones I was not so thrilled to see turned out to be great products, this is the reason I stick with this beauty box, it makes me try things I would normally turn my nose up at.

Not TV, Just Me!

It is Tuesday so there should be  TV post but guess what?  Today so I am going to chat a little bit more generally about my TV likes and dislikes.

First of all I am rubbish at watching TV, no really I am, if it were not for TiVo and Netflix I would never get a whole series of anything watched.  I used to be good at watching programmes religiously so I cannot say if the change has come about because of the invention of recordable TV and Catch-up channels or if it is due to the change in my life itself.  So now rather than watch one episode a week I binge watch several at a time, this year I have found even shows I love such as Strictly and Bake Off have fallen into the watch later category.

There is however a danger in doing this for the shows I love. you see channels such as the BBC look at the viewing figures to decide which shows to carry on and when to put them on, my beloved Doctor Who suffered from a drop in the ratings when up against the rugby the other week unleashing numerous articles suggesting it was in trouble, the fact is once iPlayer viewings are added in plus overseas viewings and DVD sales it becomes apparent that the show continues going from strength to strength.  The one thing however that does become vulnerable is the time slot, after all if more people are recording it and watching it later does it still need its Saturday night prime time slot, for me I still say yes but the fact the show is slowly being moved later and later suggests others may not agree, and tradition may not be enough to keep it there.

I have noticed one thing about myself when I watch shows that have a competition element and that is when I was younger I would have a favourite who I wanted to win and would cheer on, now as I get older I find the opposite, rather I don’t care who wins as long as it is not which ever person I have taken against, usually for being too smug, and during Bake Off this year I actually cheered when something one person made went wrong.  I think by the time I am old I may have turned into Miss Gulch from The Wizard of Oz lol

The other thing I want to mention here is films, it takes something pretty outstanding to get me to the cinema these days, the cost is ridiculous and the seats at our local cinema are not too comfy if you are larger and have a bad back already, but again it is becoming less of an issue.  Chances are you only have to wait around three months for the DVD to come out or to be able to watch it via one of the movie sites on SKY or Virgin for a fraction of the price of a cinema ticket, for those who cannot wait and are less scrupulous there are numerous sites where you can watch it online while it is still in the cinema, though I personally don’t use those.

Book Review – Haunted By Lucy Williams

Something a little different today…

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Lets see what the Goodreads Blurbs has to say…

This book is a collection of poems written during and after Lucy’s bouts of depression. They delve deep into her emotional state with refreshing honesty about an illness that affects many people.

First up I have to say I received my copy from the author as a birthday gift, although I do not know her personally I have followed her work for a while and she has also read some of mine, however the views and opinions expressed in this review are totally my own honest opinions.

My initial response on opening the packet was that although I loved the cover it seemed a very thin book, more of a pamphlet than a book however once I started reading I soon realised that given the subject of these poems and monologues less is more. They are deeply moving and though the authors experience of depression differs from my own I could relate to much of the emotions depicted and imagery used.  There were a couple of typos but they did not distract from the reading, possibly however one thing that should have been mentioned either in the blurb or at the start of the book was a trigger warning, because of the nature of the poems and references to self harm I do think that this book may warrant one.

The poems themselves are evocative, there primary aim is to provoke empathy rather than to focus on being overly clever.  While there is a delightful use of imagery they do not lose the reader in the complex metaphors, or literary devices many poets use, this is poetry you can pick up without needing a degree and immediately identify with.

Another bonus feature of this book is a Q & A with the author where she addresses questions that have been frequently asked of her, she is candid in her responses and open, you can see her honesty as she discusses her treatments and other aspects of how this illness has affected her life

The one thing I would possibly suggest is that rather than doing this as a print version on its own it may be interesting to see it in a section of a larger body of work, maybe release the individual sections as ebooks but then have a poetry anthology and include a wider range of poetry to show a contrast between the light and dark which I feel would really highlight the emotions for those who have not suffered from depression and cannot personally appreciate its nuances.

So onto the score I have to be honest and say as much as I enjoyed the poetry I have to give it a 4 out 0f 5 stars, I think that without the few typos I would still have given it the same mark, it possibly needs a little more in terms of volume for a print version

4stars

Another Award Catch Up

Another award from SJ over at Delirious Anecdotes, you can check out her dreams here and I sincerely hope they all come true for her

Rules

  1. Thank (and follow) the blog that nominated you for the award.
  2. Tell us of 7 dreams of yours.
  3. Nominate bloggers.

Pretty Logo Award Thing

img_6545My Answers

I decided that aspirations and wishes are more appropriate than my actual dreams as they tend to be a little naughty at times and involve several famous actors and sportsmen though not all at the same time, well most of the time anyway but onwards…

  1. I wish the cure for cancer could be found and it work for all strains. I received the sad news someone I went to school with passed away at the weekend, another family now torn apart by this horrible disease.  While this was not someone I had kept in touch with she was none the less a lovely girl with the brightest smile and an infectious laugh, she leaves behind a teenage son who will miss out on so many special times because of a disease that does not care who it destroys.  There are conspiracies out there of course suggesting the cure is known and pharmaceutical companies are sitting on it for profit I hope if it is ever discovered that is the truth the people making that decision are charged for the thousands of deaths that cancer causes each year.
  2. I wish for a world where there is no bullying, that parents teach their children the old adage of if you have nothing nice to say say nothing at all.  When I was at school you did not have to be friends with everyone but the people you weren’t friends with you just didn’t bother with you did not have to lead hate campaigns against them, you had your own life to get on with.
  3. I wish for a world where parents take responsibility for their children, my kids are not perfect, they have their faults, acknowledging this does not mean I love them any less in fact the fact I can see their faults probably means I love them more because I see the issues, address them and help my children become better people, too many people think they are their children’s friends when the greatest gift you are ever given is the chance to be a parent.
  4. On a more personal level I want to make a living from my writing, I might never be rich and famous but to be able to write full time, attend conventions and meet people who enjoy reading the books I write.
  5. Tied in with the last would be to receive positive reviews for each book I release, I know you cannot have all reviews be good, well not unless you pay lol but it would be nice to see the four and five star reviews mount up.
  6. I would like to meet someone and have a meaningful relationship, right now I still don’t see it happening and am certainly not looking but it would be nice to think in a couple of years my Mr Darcy might be out there and find me.
  7. I have said I just want to be able to earn a living from my books but there is one thing I would love and that is to be sat on a bus or a train and look across and see someone reading one of my books, I am not sure if I would say anything to them but maybe I would ask if they were enjoying it and if they say yes offer to sign it for them but guess I would try to read their expression first lol

 

Nominees

If you are reading this you are nominated because I would love to know what your dreams are 😀

 

Vlog Time #45 – Book Launch Date

First a quick vlog…

Now your formal invitation…

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There is a Facebook page for the event so please feel free to come over and show virtual support even if you cannot physically make it, though of course I would love for you to all be there to share cake with me xxx

Book Review – Coco Pinchard, The Consequences Of Love And Sex By Rob Bryndza

This week I needed some light relief so I looked up the third instalment of this series on my Kindle…

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As always lets start with the Goodreads blurb…

Since Coco Pinchard found first husband Daniel in bed with another woman, she hasn’t just picked up the pieces: she’s now a best-selling author married to her hunky soul-mate Adam. She feels stronger and wiser and surely the second time round she’ll have learnt from her mistakes?

But things aren’t going quite according to plan… Adam has lost his job, Coco’s grown-up son Rosencrantz seems to have derailed his life in spectacular fashion, and ex-mother-in-law Ethel keeps letting herself into the house thanks to an endless supply of spare keys. When literary agent Angie takes on Coco’s arch rival, the indomitable Regina Battenberg, it looks as though things can’t get any worse. And then Coco discovers she’s pregnant; at 44.

Can she really go through it all again? Sleepless nights, stretch marks on top of stretch marks, and poo as a normal topic of conversation?

The third and final book in Robert Bryndza’s bestselling series is a hilarious diary with Coco’s trademark wit and honesty, tracing the raging hormones and extraordinary twists that take her to motherhood for the second time.

Now as you know I always use the Goodread blurb in order to avoid spoilers but I actually think this blurb sells this author short this time. As well as the wit and humour I have come to expect in this series, he also tackles some very serious and dark subjects but manages to do so in a way which in no way detracts from the laughter, rather it provides a poignant counterbalance. I confess one semi spoiler in that part way through the book I thought I was going to fall out with the series over the death of one of my favourite characters, and yes I know we all have to kill people off sometimes but I hope should this one ever really meet her demise she will go with spectacular style.

The blurb says this is the final books but I do know there is a recently released prequel A Very Coco Christmas: A Coco Pinchard Christmas novella and I really do hope he will continue this series as it is set up for lots more adventures. It is a fine line deciding when a series is done but this one certainly is not, I would love at least another book or two now and then if the author feels they need to break away from Coco maybe a book every five or ten years to catch up with these amazing characters.

So scores on the doors, well of course it has to be the same as the others, if anything I give this 5 out of 5 plus a bonus cupcake for keeping such a high standard throughout the series.

Gold star

A Belated Awards Post

I have had two awards sat waiting for me to accept them for weeks both came from SJ over at Delirious Anecdotes so this week I shall deal with the first one and this is one I have had before which is…

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How it works:

1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog in your post.
2) Answer the questions that the blogger who nominated you has provided.
3) Nominate ten other bloggers (or up to 10).
4) Create ten questions for your nominees and notify them of their nominations.

I like this because questions are provided and you can see how SJ answered hers here.

Questions She Asked

  1. What is your favourite genre of music? Well that depends on my mood lol usually if I am doing house work I like something upbeat so I can dance as I go, I love 80’s pop and Kylie.
  2. What colour socks are you wearing? (This is a favourite from my interviews.) Not wearing any at the minute as I took my trainers off after the school run and put my slippers on, my lovely new Sketchers trainers seem to make my feet really sweaty so socks get removed at the same time lol but they were black.
  3. Out of the primary colours (red, yellow and blue), which is your favourite? It thought this would be an easy question when I first read it but now I come to answer it I am my usual indecisive self, all of them make me think of things I like but I am going to go with Blue, first it is the only colour out of the three that suits me to wear and secondly it is the colour of water and I love the sea.
  4. Which is your favourite social networking website? It has to be Facebook, for all its faults, and it does have many, I have met so many amazing people on there both through writing and playing games whose presence has enriched my life. 
  5. If you had to raise awareness for one charity, which would it be? This one is easy Cords4lifeUK, Charlie’s charity, I won’t go into it all here now as most of you know the story but if not either click the link or read more here and here not only would I raise awareness I have also stated all along 50% of all profits from Voices will go the the charity.
  6. What is your favourite type of weather? Hot and sunny and if I am somewhere with a sea breeze even better.
  7. Which controversial issues do you feel most passionately regarding? I feel quite passionately about lots of controversial things but generally I try to not put them on here lol I guess if I have to pick one I would bring back the death penalty, I would not make it a mandatory sentence but would have it as an option for anyone that abuses children, serial killers and mass murderers. I just think there are some people who commit acts so heinous they forfeit the right to be treated as a human and like a rabid dog sould be destroyed for the protection of the innocent. I had this conversation once a long time ago and an old man asked me if I could actually flip the switch, I said yes, now as a parent I would go one step further and say if you asked me to kill someone who raped and tortured a child to death, not only could I flip the switch I could look them straight in the eye as I pulled the trigger.
  8. Do you have any secret talents? Sadly no, unless you count drawing elephants, well to be fair one elephant as I always draw it facing straight on and it is more or less the same sketch every time it is just something that stuck from a long time ago, probably because I love elephants.
  9. As a child, did you have a favourite teddy bear? Nope, not that I can remember and I asked my mum but she can’t remember me having one either. We always had dogs so it is quite likely I just didn’t bother with toys as their was always a live animal to snuggle.
  10. What time is it?  It is 11.25am, I actually wrote most of this yesterday but forgot to finish it and schedule the post so am just doing that and the tags now lol.

Questions

  1. What is your favourite genre of music?
  2. What are you wearing as you answer this?
  3. What is your favourite colour and why?
  4. Which is your favourite social networking website?
  5. If you had to raise awareness for one charity, which would it be?
  6. What is your favourite type of weather?
  7. Which controversial issues do you feel most passionately regarding?
  8. Do you have any secret talents?
  9. As a child, did you have a favourite book?
  10. What is you favourite meal to eat out?

 

And I am nominating…

Stephanie Hurt

Ellie Mack

CB Wentworth

Renee

Irene  (I know technically you are award free but thought the questions might be fun for you to answer and let us know more about you 😀 )

Linda G Hill

Sandra

Rhonda