31 July 2013

Review: Out-Of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved


Out-Of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved
Out-Of-Style: A Modern Perspective of How, Why and When Vintage Fashions Evolved by Betty Kreisel Shubert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This book is WONDERFUL.

Whether you're a fasionista, studying history or fashion, looking in to your own family history or love reading novels set in Victorian England to the present day this book is for you.

The amount of research and work that has gone in to this is astonishing.

But it's very accessible and easy to use, with super helpful illustrations to back up the text. And I learnt so much! Bra's have been around since WHEN??

I love how much easier it is to visualise when I'm reading and I loved discovering how and why fashions changed during the time periods.



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28 July 2013

Review: Unmasking the Spy


Unmasking the Spy
Unmasking the Spy by Janet Kent

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



What to say about this? I'm not altogether sure how I feel if I'm honest. An easy 3-3.5 stars.

This was a good enough read, which did entertain me. A few years ago it's exactly what I would have loved to read, in fact I went through a whole Regency romance period where that's all I would read.

There were some things that bugged me, like "honey" and too-tight pantaloons, but the capers of Alicia and Ian kind of made up for that. I loved reading about Alicia's balls and soirées and the passion between "Elizabeth" and "Rouge" was excellent, if a little steamy. I did feel like screaming at Alicia and Ian to just be bloody honest with each other though. I mean, seriously? HOW could they not know who was who, regardless of how dark it was?

But boy does Unmasking the Spy have some thrills. Although I'd pretty much guessed the who-dunnit, the twist at the end was marvellous any brought the rating up a little. But the ending itself was a bit of a let down. SHE HAD A CONCUSSION!

The worst part of this book is that Ian even said himself that he couldn't control himself. Things like that make me feel sick and bring out the angry feminist inside of me.

I'd probably call this a Young-New-Adult Regency Romance if I had to categorise it.



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26 July 2013

Review: Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral?


Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral?
Fancy a Cuppa by the Cathedral? by Simon Duffin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This is a GREAT guide to Cathedrals and tea and coffee shops around the UK.

It is very informative and interesting - I thought I knew about my "local" cathedrals, but this guide taught even me a thing or two.

And it's not just the cathedral's you learn about. You also learn about the cafés and the people behind them. The real people. These coffee houses and tea rooms are all about the localities, with home-made goodies and really cool quirks. This book is a bit of a champion for small businesses.

I have visited some of the cathedrals and business in this and I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendations with which I'm familiar - they are spot on!

If you're going to ANY cathedral town, then get this. You'll have a great day out and a fab afternoon treat too.



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24 July 2013

Review: The New Girl


The New Girl
The New Girl by Tracie Puckett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The cover is deceiving - this is not a light fluffy lemon soufflé of a romance with lots of sex. It is a fantastic little YA read which will cheer you right up if you're feeling down. And best of all it's free. So go read it!

I'll admit, I did frown when I read Abcdef Ghijk as a name... And I'm still not sold on the bat-shit mother. But Steph ('cdef, how clever) is a pretty awesome character in this surprisingly excellent little read.

Although this is a pretty tame YA, it's filled with tension and conflict and friendships and the THAT'S NOT FAIR feeling you should experience at least once from this kind of YA. Fan of school drama? You'll be a fan of this.

The only bad thing is that now I think I'm hooked, and I'm going to have to buy the rest to see where this goes!



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Review: In The Summer Time


In The Summer Time
In The Summer Time by Judy Astley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is the PERFECT summer read.

In The Summer Time isn't too heavy, but it's not light and fluffy. It's got a serious side to it, as well as the traditional capers you'd expect.

This book had me laughing out loud while trying not to cry. I was reminded of teenage summers and boy-troubles and Cold Feet.

But it's also a very grown-up book, even if Miranda makes some quite juvenile decisions and jumps to childish conclusions - but that's what this book is about, to me, it's about remembering being young and free and how different it was. Miranda regresses a bit while watching her own teenage children try to grow up. It's about remembering that the simple things in life are sometimes the best, whether it's a fried egg sandwich or cup of tea or simply being together as a family.

Miranda's comments about her children are hilarious, witty and sometimes quite dry. And the humour is definitely the best bit of this book. It really is laugh-out-loud funny and I must have looked like a loon when I was reading this on the bus.

The romance is great too - it's the slow rekindling of an old flame, with all of the confusion that twenty years, two children, and a divorce can bring.

I will definitely be reading more of Judy Astley's books.

Thanks to Random House via NetGalley for a copy of this for review.



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23 July 2013

Review: Witch Hunt


Witch Hunt
Witch Hunt by Tabitha Morrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This book is pretty amazing. It starts out as one genre and ends as another, almost the complete opposite, with a strand of fantasy woven all the way through.

This isn't the best written book out there, but I was hooked.

Better to be afraid of witches and murderers than to be one.

Witch Hunt is creepy and mysterious and thrilling, with twists and turns and little surprises. There are scenes to gush at, scenes to have you frozen in horror, scenes to make your blood boil, and scenes to make you cry. This is a full emotional roller-coaster, so get ready.

The characters develop really well and are well written; their understanding of various scenarios is very natural given the circumstances. You start to feel for the characters. Ruth probably grows and changes the most, but boy is she a little blind at times. Again, this is understandable, it's how it should be.

The ending was great too. Most of the loose ends were tied up, everything came together, but it's not happily ever after. The ending is left open so that there could be a follow on, but I like it as it is, all on its own.

Thanks to Diversion Books via NetGalley for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.



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16 July 2013

Review: The Worst Witch and The Wishing Star


The Worst Witch and The Wishing Star
The Worst Witch and The Wishing Star by Jill Murphy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



As I was growing up, the Worst Witch books were a firm favourite with me, my sisters and my friends. And I'm sure that they too will want to read this. I really REALLY enjoyed this. It's in the same style and just as easily accessible as the earlier books, but you know reading it, right from the start, that Mildred and friends have grown up a little.

The gorgeous illustrations perfectly compliment the story - even the layouts are quite humourous for some!

The story is wonderful - it's got the good, the bad, and the happy ending. And Mildred makes a new friend and gains some responsibilities. This helps her grow up a little. And you see a different side of HB, she's not all lofty, evil potions teacher.

This was a great return of one of the best children's characters out there, and the fabulous illustrations just made me feel more nostalgic for my childhood, a time when we'd committed the Cackle's Academy song to memory and would sing it when we were acting out the books - I was always Mildred with my long hair.

Thank you to Penguin via NetGalley for a copy of this.



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15 July 2013

Review: Mates, Dates And Sleepover Secrets


Mates, Dates And Sleepover Secrets
Mates, Dates And Sleepover Secrets by Cathy Hopkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Another fun one from Cathy Hopkins and the Mates, Dates gang!

This time we meet TJ, the newcomer to the gang. Her best friend is gone, hundreds of miles away in South Africa, and the bitch at school is trying to make her life hell.

But Lucy, Izzie and Nesta come to the rescue and welcome her to the gang - cue sleepovers, makeovers and boy talk.



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Review: Summer Lovin'


Summer Lovin'
Summer Lovin' by Donna Cummings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This was a great little novella. 3.5/5

Summer Lovin' is what it says on the tin. A passionate quickie (haha) all fun and flirty. And, of course, with a happy ending. The cover promises a summer romance and that's what you get. I only wish it wasn't so brief!

This isn't all sex. And thank goodness. It's refreshing.

The thing I perhaps loved the most was that it was a bit like the beginning and end of a story so you could imagine the middle on your own. It also means there's scope for the author to turn this into a full-length novel.



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10 July 2013

Review: Mates, Dates & Cosmic Kisses


Mates, Dates & Cosmic Kisses
Mates, Dates & Cosmic Kisses by Cathy Hopkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



It was OK...

It's weird. When I read these as a teen, Izzie was my favourite character. But I don't really like her now I'm older. She's too whiny. So I didn't enjoy this book as much as this one was focused mainly on her.

The best part of this series is the subtle lessons - namely don't be a slag and don't give in to pushy boys who want you to go further than you're comfortable with.

Another tween book for girls, carrying on the teenage drama of the Mates, Dates series with a feel-good ending that has you smiling despite yourself.



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Review: Gemini Rising


Gemini Rising
Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This is the perfect girly Young Adult story. It's got everything you could wish for, including a sneaky, creepy hint of the supernatural. So this is a very easy 4 stars, I really really liked it.

The characters were well written and this story was very believable. The situations and mannerisms were real. These teenage girls WERE teenage girls, wrapped up in school and trying to fix their lives and grow up too fast. I could really identify with Sorana, she reminded me of me - quiet, good as English, bad at Maths.

Unfortunately, I've never had a brain for Maths - I just don't.

Drink, drugs and rock'n'roll. And Ouija boards.

The story is fun and girly and humourous. You experience everything with Sorana - from her first hangover to her first funeral.

I like the way that the possibly supernatural bits were written - it's left up to the reader to decide. It makes this book perfect for those who don't like the supernatural and those who love it. FANTASTIC!

There are threads of mystery and a thrilling conclusion to the tension-filled story that's been building up and up from the very beginning. And it's not predictable. This story does not end how you think it will. I was truly shocked by the ending.

If you like [a:Sarra Manning|42559|Sarra Manning|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1267401953p2/42559.jpg] then you'll like Eleanor Wood. I hope to read more from her in future!

Thanks to Carina via NatGalley for a copy of this.



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07 July 2013

Review: Parasite


Parasite
Parasite by Mira Grant

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Wow.

Mira Grant is a fantastic writer, and why I hadn't read her before I do not know. Parasite reminded me of [b:Sara's Face|2297300|Sara's Face|Melvin Burgess|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348516218s/2297300.jpg|2303617] by [a:Melvin Burgess|56977|Melvin Burgess|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1206545905p2/56977.jpg] with the video transcripts and the excerpts from literary sources.

This book freaked me out, it made me squirm, it made me think. It made me stop and think. I didn't need convincing about the overuse of anti-biotics and biocides and how the sterilisation of our environment is bad. I already knew that. But now I'm just going to go ahead and chuck out every nasty cleaning product in the cupboard. Boiling water, lemon juice, vinegar and sodium bicarbonate will do for me.

And then I'm going to go out and get some anti-parasitic shit for me and my family and my dogs and my neighbours cat. And I'll probably hand them out to everyone I meet.

The story builds slowly. You really get to know the characters. Sal isn't my favourite character in the whole wide world, but there is a reason she is how she is. I love the different paces - it's not all super fast, there are more mellow spots too.

There is a thread of mystery all through the story but it's been pushed aside often by Sal in favour of something more important (to her) and the fact that she doesn't want to deal with it. I love when characters direct the plot.

That ending was something else. This book kept me hooked right until the end. And I thought I had everything worked out and I knew what was going to happen, but it was still shocking, so shocking. I just sat at the end, gazing down at my kindle, wanting to read more yet knowing I wouldn't be able to handle it, not right away.

Sometimes humanity is the reason we can't have nice things.



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01 July 2013

Review: Maelyn


Maelyn
Maelyn by Anita Valle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This was definitely amazing for a novella.

Go and download it now. Go on. It's free on kindle.

As an adult, I thought it was great. I would have enjoyed this as a teen too and as a child would have loved it. It has all of the right ingredients for a fairytale.

And that's what I think this is - a fairytale. It has a soft, lyrical narrative, an evil uncle, conflict between the characters and a moral to the story. Perfect for escaping for anyone of any age.

Maelyn is a great character.

Ten minutes of careful searching later, Maelyn faced the dismal truth - she was bookless.

I felt that I could relate to her. She is the eldest sister and has a love of reading. She's trying so hard to keep everything together, to be the strong one.

Maelyn smiled. If books could have litters she'd be just as happy.

And she escapes in to books. She shares her love of reading and stories with her eight sisters during reading hour, but she also escapes on her own.

Maelyn sank into the world the words wrapped around her, hushing everything that hurt, and seeping tranquility right down to her toes. She was home.



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