Sunday, 29 April 2012

666 Park Avenue - Gabriella Pierce

I’m going to start by saying straight out that I have mixed feelings about this book. It, basically, is about a girl (Jane) who meets a guy (Malcolm) who sweeps her off her feet. He asks her to marry him and she agrees even though it means leaving behind her life in Paris, her job and all her friends, and moving to New York to live with his family. Somewhere along the way she discovers that she is a witch and also that Malcolm’s family are not at all what they seem...

Being a general fan of the whole fairytale type thing, I jumped at the chance to read 666 Park Avenue, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. I have to be honest, for about the first half of the book, it was annoying me beyond all belief, however I kept at it because I hate not finishing books, and I also like to hold out hope that things will suddenly get much better, which they did. Around about chapter 27, Jane suddenly realises what she is dealing with and what the hell is actually going on, and from then on it got interesting. The talk of magic and witches up until that point just annoyed me because nobody was actually doing anything about it. I’m sorry, but electric appliances blowing up don’t really thrill me all that much. Post chapter 27, the plot suddenly picked up pace and there were twists and turns all over the place. By the end of the novel, which totally sets itself up for a sequel, I found myself actually wanting to know what will happen next. 

I admit to being a picky reader, and there are always a few words/phrases which annoy me beyond all reason when they are overused. At the moment one of these is ‘overstuffed’. I have no idea why (to be honest, mostly American) writers feel the need to use it ALL THE TIME.  I also have no idea why it annoys me so unreasonably much – I know it’s an incredibly immature thing to focus on, but there we go. So when it turned up in this book, it put my back up. Although the characters annoyed me at the start of the book, with many of them that was intended to be the case and they were pretty consistent creations on the part of the author. Stylistically, it was pretty well written, for me it was just a shame that almost half of the book was lacking in the pace and decisive action which made the last half so much better than the first. 

All that said, for people who are fans of supernatural type novels, 666 Park Avenue is pretty readable – it took me a day. It has all the elements of a good novel, but for me it just didn’t quite get there.

The book was provided to me for review by Canvas publishers. Thanks again!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Readathon Update Post

Hour 23

I never did manage to really settle down to this readathon, I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the weather being so beautiful I feel like I'm wasting it by not being outside or on the beach or something... Anyway, I'm calling it a day now and I've read a grand total of 248 pages which is pathetic by anyone's standards but there we go. At least I have finally read The Awakening, which has been on my TBR for literally years, so I'm proud of that! And I'm really loving Skippy Dies, so I'll definitely be reading that some more today.

In the past hour I managed to get distracted by the suddenly urgent problem of sorting out my CDs... I figure if this has suddenly become an 'important' thing that I just must do right now, then I'm probably done with the readathon! Anybody who's made it through the whole 24 hours, I am so impressed I actually have no words for it. Hope everybody's had a great readathon, despite my unproductiveness, I've still had fun and have finally managed to do a mini challenge!!

Hour 21

I'm still feeling kind of unfocused. I read the first couple of pages of Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs and decided it doesn't fit with my mood at the moment, so I went back to my original plan and started Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. I'm 49 pages in and so far it's brilliant! I'm still getting waaaaay too distracted by the internet (mostly Twitter!), and still haven't done any mini challenges. It's a shame I've been so epically faily this time round as it's probably the last readathon for a while I'll be able to participate in - in October, all being well, my baby will be just a couple of weeks old, and so it will be next April at the earliest that I'll get to take part again! The next time I do this, though, I'll do what I said I was going to do last time - take the day off work on the Saturday and remove myself from distraction and just attempt to read for the entire 24 hours! Meanwhile, I'm getting back to Skippy Dies and will see how much I get read before the end!

Hour 19

This readathon I've definitely been more pathetic than the last! I've still yet to finish The Awakening, although it looks like I'll be doing that in the next twenty minutes or so and moving on to Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs, which wasn't on my original list, but which I remembered last night and have decided I must read, like, right now. 

So far, I've read for a grand total of about three hours, in between sleeping, which is horrendous, but I'm here now and I'm planning to stay until the end! I may not get to any minichallenges, because I'm so behind with my reading and even though I know I have a valid excuse for all the sleeping, I still wish I'd read more. So enough with the blogging, I'm off to read!!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Readathon - I'm finally here!!

So I know it's like, hour ... 9?? now, but an impromptu trip to the pub after work delayed my getting home (obviously I was drinking juice, but I like to keep up with the gossip!), and so I've only just arrived buuuuuut I did some reading on the way home and during my lunch hour and finished off the last part of The Accidental Tourist and am currently 23 pages into The Awakening, so I feel like I'm finally achieving! Pretty much straight after I finish this post though I will have to go make dinner, but after that I will get into some hardcore reading! 

Here's my introductory questionnaire, just because I like questionnaires!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Just outside Canterbury, UK
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Probably Skippy Dies, which I'm planning on getting to next!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? This is really lame pregnant lady talk, but I have a can of sliced peaches in the fridge that I'm really excited about...
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm secretly expecting my readathon effort to be even more pathetic this time than last, due to being 16 weeks pregnant, and generally exhausted and full of backache!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This is my second readathon. I will hopefully update my blog more this time and take some time to check out other people's blogs and do a couple of mini challenges!

I will be back in a couple of hours with an update, hopefully!!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Why I'm not Reviewing...

Ok so the title of this makes it seem like I have some kind of great reason for it. I don't. All through my childhood my mother was pretty much pregnant or looking after small children (I'm not exagerating, I'm the eldest of seven and except for the very youngest, there's a maximum of 2 years between any of us), so I'm pretty used to being woken up at all hours by small person screaming, but I never realised until now how entirely exhausting being pregnant is. By the time I've gone to work, stood up for most of the day, run up and down four flights of stairs several times, come home, attempted to make some kind of food, felt guilty because said food is not nutritionally balanced for the baby, and possibly done some laundry or washing up, I'm out of energy. And that's without all this prenatal yoga I'm attempting in some kind of last ditch attempt to be vaguely active. 

So anyway the lack of reviews is pretty much due to total lack of energy, but apart from that I have been reading! I'm having a bit of an Anne Tyler marathon at the moment... I pulled Back When We Were Grownups off my shelf to read for the 50 States Challenge, and then once I finished it I just didn't really feel like anything else, so I started on The Accidental Tourist and I'm really enjoying it so far. I think Tyler's style is exactly what I need at the moment - she writes about fairly domestic situations and fairly normal people and generally reminds me a little of Jodi Picoult (whom I love), but without the emphasis on current issues. This is great because it means that I am reading enough for it to relax me and take my mind off the million and one things that I am stressing about, and that I am interested enough so my mind stays engaged with what I am reading. I think I nmight just keep going with Tyler and see where I get to. I have at least one more book on the shelves I've not yet read, and they are usually pretty available in charity shops so I might go for a browse during my lunch break at work tomorrow...
I will eventually get to reviewing Back When We Were Grownups, because I feel it probably deserves a review, but obviously given the title of this post, it may not be any time soon :-/

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Announcement - Winner of the Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop!

Firstly, I'd like to thank all 45 of you who entered my giveaway and participated in the Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop, and say hi to my new followers! You are always greatly appreciated! :-) 

I have drawn a winner from the entrants using, and the winner is.....

Congratulations! A copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (in my opinion one of the best books ever) will be on its way to you soon, I hope you enjoy it!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

It's that time again...

Readathon time! :-D The last 24 hour readathon in October 2011 was the first time I've ever attempted an entire 24 hours dedicated to reading, and although my success was limited due to lack of internet access and the fact that I had to work until 6pm on the Saturday, I LOVED it, and I'm so excited that it's here again.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon runs twice a year, in April and October, and the upcoming one runs from 12pm GMT on Saturday 21st April until 12pm on Sunday 22nd. As I did last year, I'm going to prepare a really unrealistic pile of books to choose from so that I know there'll be something I feel like reading at all time. Hopefully my internet will play ball a bit more this time around and I'll be able to visit other people's blogs, participate in the mini-challenges, and post updates a lot more regularly than last time.

I won't be reading for the full 24 hours - I may get in a bit during my lunch break etc at work, but I won't really start until about 6pm, and I'm very unlikely to read through the night as due to my present condition I'm incredibly sleepy lots of the time so I'm definintely going to have to take a nap at some point, but I'll try to get in as much reading time as I possibly can. Here are the books I'm putting on my readathon pile:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin - been on my TBR for ages and it's really small so good for some variety. Also it's on my list for The Classics Club and I really need to get started on some of them!

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray - I'm really excited about reading this and I got in in the Waterstone's sale so it has new book smell which is brilliant :-) 


State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy - it's a big book, but I really enjoy Douglas Kennedy normally and they are usually pretty easy reads so might be good for some late - night reading. 

The Language of Others by Clare Morrall - I read Astonishing Splashes of Colour years ago and fell in love with it and ever since then I've been looking for more Clare Morrall. I came across this the other day in a 2nd hand shop for 95p (!) and couldn't resist. Also from the blurb it sounded a little like the protagonist could have an autistic spectrum disorder, which some of you will know really interest me, although that could be purely speculation on my part. 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - a book about books intrigues me at the moment!

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis - I still have all of these except The Magician's Nephew to read for the Narnia Reading Project, so I might try to get through some or all of them!

And that's it! Like I said, I like to make sure there's some variety there
and doubtless I'll end up reading bits and pieces of everything and not actually finishing an entire book but oh well. Are you taking part? I'd love to know what other people are planning to read :-) And if you haven't signed up yet, you really should!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Telling Tales Challenge April Link Up!

Hi guys! Sorry I've been so entirely faily at getting this up this month, but I hope you are all doing better with the challenge than I am! I'm still hoping to get to Till We Have Faces and start The Odyssey this month but we shall see what the month brings!

Here are the links to what people read in January, February and March.

And here is the link up for April, happy reading!

The Sunday Salon - Baking

It's been a very do nothingy kind of day here. The weather doesn't seem able to make up its' mind, so my grand plans for going on a long walk ended up as a walk to Tesco and back, which wasn't quite as exciting as I'd anticipated as I quite wanted to go for a walk by the sea, but oh well. Instead, I've spent the day with Mary Berry and The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake cookbook. I feel that my adoration of and obsession with cookbooks is something that I often glance over on this blog without really devoting proper time to it.  As with all my I have a LOT of cookbooks, and I always want more. That said, I do suffer from only using one or two of them and just looking through the pictures in the rest, exclaiming over all the things I'd really like to make that I somehow never quite get around to.

My husband gave me The Great British Bake Off cookbook for Christmas and it's so beautiful. It has in it all the things I always thought were waaaaaaaaaay too complicated to bake; macaroons, croissants, chocolate orange mousse cake... My mum used to bake with us when we were little and when I got to being a teenager I developed a bit of an obsession with it, but I don't do anywhere near as much as I'd like to considering how much money I spend on muffins and cookies! So today I decided to bake a fruit loaf cake from the book, and then I decided to go totally nuts and bake a couple of loaves of bread too, as it's been ages since I baked bread and I love the way it makes the house smell! The bread is still in progress (forgot how much rising time it needs!), but here is a picture of the cake:
As usual when I bake fruit cake, the raisins got a bit burnt on top and made the rest of the cake smell fabulously burned (why do raisins always do this?!) but it isn't and I'm excited about having baked a cake for the first time in a while!

Anyway, that's my Sunday, and my return to baking is pretty much just another form of preparing for the baby (along with knitting and buying it books) that helps distract me from the aspects of baby having that totally freak me out beyond all reason. Like the physical having of the baby - that part I am so not excited about. So, until I really have to think about it, I have fruit cake :-)

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop

As some of you may be aware, I'm still kind of on hiatus from the blog at the moment but I signed up for the Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop way back and I didn't want to miss participating for the second year. Last year the hop was brilliant, with loads of blogs promoting autism awareness and giving away related gifts. Autism awareness has always been really important to me, as both myself and my mother have worked fairly extensively with autistic children in the past, and I have seen how totally intolerant people can be towards something they just don't understand. Also what with being pregnant this year it's become even more important to me to spread awareness, as I've been thinking about the future and the kind of world that I want my child to grow up in. 

In the interest of spreading awareness, here is a brief explanation of what autism is: 
Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorders are brain development disorders, generally characterised by difficulties with social interaction to a greater or lesser degree. People on the autistic spectrum may be completely non-verbal, unlikely to make eye contact, prone to repetitive behaviour and noises, and keen to avoid physical contact. However, the spectrum is so wide that it can also be difficult to tell if a person has an austistic spectrum disorder. Autism is not uncommon - in the US it affects 1 in 88 children and is generally thought to be more common in boys. Research on the causes of autism is ongoing, and currently there are thought to be many causes, some of which may be linked to the mutation of genes. There is NO EVIDENCE that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is linked in any way to autism. I stress this purely because it is one of the things I hear people say often that is a commonly accepted myth. However, autistic spectrum disorders usually become apparent at around the age of 2 or 3 years old. Here are the important symptoms to look out for in a child:
  • Lack of or delay in spoken language
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects
For more information about autism, go to,, or just google it! And spread the word, autistic spectrum disorders are not something to be afraid of!!

The Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop is hosted by; Lindsay @ Just Another Book Addict,
Heather @ Fire and Ice Photo, Pixie @ Page Turners, and Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, and I'm really excited to be a part of it.

Last year I gave away a copy of Jodi Picoult's House Rules, and I want to stick with the giving away a book that I loved theme, so this year's prize is a choice between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, and the amazing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, purely because I recently re-read it, think everyone should read it, and because I read on Autism Resources that Boo Radley has autistic characteristics, which I never even thought about before but which completely makes sense.

The giveaway is open internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to you. To win, just leave a comment with your email and which book you'd like to win and I will pick a winner via on Tuesday 17th April! When you've entered my giveaway, hop on over to the next participant! You can find the list here, because for some reason I can't make it work!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Big News!!

I've been a horrendous blogger lately, but I can finally reveal part of the reason why! Yesterday I went to have my first ultrasound scan, and I am 13 weeks pregnant. We've been keeping it quiet, but it's been difficult as I've been sooooo exhausted all the time, it's been hard even to keep up with the day to day stuff, so all extras including the blog have kinda fallen by the wayside. However! Now I'm out of the first trimester, I'm starting to feel lots better and more energetic, so I'm hoping to get back on track soon.
Don't worry, I don't plan to turn the blog into baby central. I only bought my first baby book the other day, and I've yet to read it properly - a lot of them just seem to try to freak you out with big lists of all the things that could go wrong. I'm a natural hypochondriac, I don't need any help!! Currently I'm just wading my way through piles of coupons for free bags of nappies, which is great but now I have to try and find somewhere to put them all for the next 6 months! 

Currently my life is a pile of hospital and midwife appointments, baby knitting patterns, and emails from baby clubs. I've been doing a lot of re-reading, and I think it'll probably stay that way for a while as so much else is changing at the moment, I sort of need something comforting I think! I've already started expanding my library of children's literature, and I SO love that I have yet another excuse to buy books! If anybody has any suggestions of useful books (either for me, or for the baby!), I'd be really grateful! :-)