Wednesday 23 January 2013

Book Review - Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martell
Released September 2001
Ebook 464 pages
Publisher Canongate Books
Rating 5 out of 5
Source Purchased

One boy, one boat, one tiger ...After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.

My thoughts…
I want to start this review by being completely honest… I saw Life of Pi the film advertised at the cinema a few months ago and didn’t really give it a second thought. I then bought a tablet computer and downloaded the Amazon Kindle app, when looking for something to read I stumbled across the ebook version for 20p and thought I would see what all the fuss was about.

Life of Pi is the story of a 16 year-old boy call Pi who becomes shipwrecked in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with only a lifeboat and a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker for company. The book was released more than 10 years ago and never has the saying ‘better late than never’ been more fitting.

Like most books, this has its good and bad points. What I loved about this book was the roller-coaster of emotions that it took me on – there is great joy and equally great sadness, you become fearful for Pi’s survival and belief that he will live, you laugh out loud on one page, but are bought to tears on the next. The writer, Yann Martel, manages to bring out every emotion possible throughout the book and by the end it leaves you emotionally drained and my head was spinning, but in a good way!

The story seemed a simple tale of a castaway waiting to be rescued, albeit not in a traditional sense. But the ending had the most unexpected twist, I was literally left both open-mouthed and scratching my head! Throughout the story I began to believe the unbelievable, thought the impossible was possible and that pure determination in ones beliefs would see Pi though anything that life could throw at him. While that is true to certain extended, Pi provides an alternative story to the authorities and I am left trying to decide which story I truly believe, or whether I want to believe any at all. To fully understand what I mean by this you’ll need to read the book for yourself, as I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.

As for the bad points… there isn’t anything that I particularly disliked. I felt that the story did drag on a little in places, but I understand that this was intentional in order for the reader to really get a feel for the length of time that Pi was lost at sea. I also didn’t particularly enjoy the lengthy parts about religion at the beginning of the book, but again I understand that this was needed for the purpose of the story and my dislike is personal as I am not a religious person.

In summary, Life of Pi is a story that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is a story that at times is difficult to read, but the bond between Richard Parker and Pi is heart-warming and the story will leave a lasting impression on you. In my reviews I usually like to compare to another book, but in all honestly I don’t think there are any other books that could ever come close to this. A truly inspirational story that I will never forget.

Thursday 3 January 2013

January Reading List

December didn't leave me a lot of time for reading so I am hoping to make up for lost time in January! After downloading the Kindle app on my tablet I have taken full advantage of their free offerings having downloaded Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, which I am dying to read. They also had Life of Pi for 20p, so I couldn't afford to pass that over. On top of all of those one of my favourite authors of 2012 has released the second installment of the thrilling Downy trilogy, and she has very kindly sent me a copy! 

Here's what I have to look forward to this month...

Life of Pi
The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?

Pride and Prejudice
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Second of All
Detective Tommy Gates and Agent Ginny Sommers struggle to balance their growing personal relationship with their task of finding his father. Back home, Kiki Downey and James Hoffman are facing their own internal and external pressures. After Mary Gates is led on a different trail by Mickey's Irish kin, they are all given pieces of a puzzle that it will take the whole family to solve. Interlocked within the narrative are glimpses into how Mickey Downey became the man he is today. 

Throughout their journeys, past and present, they all must struggle with what loyalties and loves come first, and what comes... second of all.

New Year. New Start

New year. New start. Something that I am sure that we are all tired of hearing by now as everyone makes their New Year resolutions. Many will keep their resolutions, others with fail within a few days, actually some may already have! For me 2013 has kicked off to a wonderful start, my adorable boyfriend proposed to me on Christmas day and then my father in law who is battling cancer has found out that it hasn't spread and is having his removal operation scheduled. The next few months are going to be extremely difficult for us all, but if it has taught us anything, it is how precious life is and to never take anything for granted.

So with my sudden realisation it is time that I stopped procrastinating and finally sit down, write my book and read a lot more books, as you never know what is around the corner.

This year I really want to read some classic books like Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Little Women as well as catching up on books that I have missed by some of my favourite authors - Dorothy Koomson, Nicolas Sparks and Marian Keyes. I am also excited to discover new authors just like I did in 2012 with Genevieve Dewey, Craig Stone and Jaimie Admans.

Lets see what 2013 has to throw at me! Oh and I just wanted to share a picture of my beautiful ring :-) x

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Book Review - Winter Warmers

Winter Warmers by Carole Matthews
Released 26th November
Kindle 192 pages
Publisher Hachette Digital
Rating 4/5
Source Kindle Books

Three short stories…

All I Want for Christmas is You
Christmas is around the corner but Maria just can't get into the spirit - will she ever find Mr Right? But when a secret admirer starts leaving her poems and notes, it looks as though her luck is about to change . . .

Cold Turkey
Tara is in love with a man she can't have. She expected to spend Christmas with him but when the big day arrives, she finds herself alone. Sad and upset, Tara just wants to ignore the festive season - and then a chance encounter changes everything.

About Gardening
I love my husband Sam but our relationship isn't what it used to be. Can I find a way to bring us back together?

My thoughts…
I have recently purchased a Samsung Tab and one of the first apps that I downloaded was Kindle. Having borrowed a family members to read Kismetology I feel in the love with the ease of using a tablet to carry around and read whenever and where I wanted, so as an early Christmas present to myself I got a Samsung Tab. Once it was up and running I logged into Amazon and soon starting looking at the extensive list of free books that they had to offer, with it being Christmas this was the perfect choice for my first download.

Winter Warmers is a gift from Carole Matthews with three festive short stories – All I Want for Christmas is You, Cold Turkey and About Gardening. I had never heard of Carole Matthews before reading Winter Warmers but within a few pages I instantly feel in love with her witty writing style and have already started looking at other books that I can buy for this wonderful author.

All I Want for Christmas is You, is a typical fairy-tale, chick lit story of a single girl named Maria with a crush on a gorgeous man, the man asks out her best friend, all the while a secret admirer is showing Maria with little festive gifts each day.

Cold Turkey is a story about Tara, a mistress, her married lover has promised that he will visit her this Christmas, but when she is left alone yet again ad trip to feed the ducks leads to an unlikely meeting. A warm and happy story full of magical moments.

About Gardening is a story about a married couple who’s spark had disappeared until one Christmas they  both realise that they must work together to get it back. This story is one that I think many married couples can relate to and is a story that is playing out around the world. Another beautiful and heart-warming story sowing promise in a deflated relationship.

Overall I loved each of the stories and am so excited to read more from Carole Matthews, she now has one more fan to add to, what I am sure, is a growing list. This is a great read to get you in the festive spirit. It is still available to download for free from Kindle Books see my reading list on the right and follow the links.

Friday 7 December 2012

Book Review - One Hundred Names

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern
Released 11th October 2012
Hardback 336 pages
Published HarperCollins
Rating 5/5
Source Sent a copy by HaperCollins.

Everyone has a story to tell…

Journalist Kitty Logan’s career has been destroyed by scandal, and she now faces losing the woman who guided her and taught her everything she knew. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her – what is the one story she always wanted to write?

The answer lies in a file buried in Constance’s office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, no explanation, nothing else to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery.

But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late.

With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life – to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty has to not only track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people’s stories, she uncovers Constance’s – and starts to understand her own…

My thoughts…

I am a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern and have been ever since PS I Love You. Everytime I see a new book coming out I clear my schedule and prepare to immerse myself into Cecelia’s world. One Hundred Names, I am pleased to say, did not disappoint me at all.

One Hundred Names is typically Cecelia, a beautifully charming, witty, uplifting, and enchanting story full of twists and turns and wonderfully diverse characters. The story takes you on a journey with Kitty Logan, a shamed journalist that has been left with no job, no credibility and no boyfriend. To top it all off, the one person who believed in her and her best friend and mentor passes away from Cancer leaving her feeling like she has no one to turn to.

One of Kitty’s last conversations with Constance was about a story that she never got to write, so when she passes Kitty takes it upon herself to do what Constance couldn’t. With a list on 100 names and no clue who they are, how to find them or what their stories are – Kitty begins her life changing journey She not only discovers the meaning of Constance’s final story, but she also discovers who she really is and finds her place in life.

Every book that Cecelia writes is almost a fairy tale story for adults, she somehow manages to sweep her readers off their feet and whisk them away into her magical little land. One Hundred Names does just this as the story takes to you places to meet people that are so unique and special but so real at the same time.

This is a must read book that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you want to escape then this is the book for you.

Book Review - Kismetology

Kismetology by Jaimie Admans
Released 14th September 2012
Kindle edition 
Rating 4/5
Source Sent a copy by Jaimie.

Finding the perfect man isn't easy. Especially when it's for your mother... 

Mothers. Can't live with them, can't live without them, can't live three doors down the road without them interfering in every aspect of your life.

Mackenzie Atkinson's mother has meddled in her love life once too often and something has to be done. Mackenzie decides to turn the tables and find love for her lonely mother.  

Her lonely and very fussy mother. 

Surely finding an older gentleman looking for love won't be that hard, right?
If you've ever thought that boys grow up, here's the problem: They don't. Ever.
And Mackenzie is about to learn that the hard way.

Faced with a useless boyfriend, dressed up dogs, men who wear welly boots on dates, men who shouldn't be allowed out in public, and men who make reptiles seem like attractive company - will she ever find the perfect man for her neurotic mother?

My thoughts…
Since I began blogging Jaimie has been a constant support and friend to me, so what she emailed to ask if I could review her book I was thrilled. Knowing Jaimie already, I knew she has very similar taste in books to me; therefore I knew I was getting a book that would suit me.

Kismetology has a lovely cover, and I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I saw this on a shelf I would definitely pick it up. The book fits neatly into the ‘Chick Lit’ genre and would appeal to anyone who is a fan of these types of stories. The title Kismetology didn’t mean anything to me at the beginning, I spent the first few days telling people I was reading kiss-me-tology! After reading the book I now know that it is to do with Kismet, the Arabic word for fate or destiny. Knowing this, the title suits this book to perfection.

As a reader you are taken on a journey from the view point of a 20-something who is fed up with her mother, Eleanor, interfering in her life and her house, much to the annoyance of her boyfriend Dan. Mackenzie Atkinson therefore takes it upon herself to find love for her mother so that she can get her life back. Her approach – to date the men, make sure they are suitable and then set them up on a date.

Mackenzie’s journey takes you from her being a happy nail technician who just wants her mother to watch Coronation Street at her own house, to her realising that there is more to life and that the love she thought she had for Dan isn’t what she thought it was.

Jaimie has a wonderful way or writing- she is witty, imaginative and manages to create characters that you didn’t think ever existed but at the same time making you believe that these strange men are out there somewhere.  Knowing how much Jaimie likes her “research” I could just imagine her sitting in a town hall somewhere speed dating 50-year-old men to provide material for her book.

If I was to criticise one little thing with this book, and I hope Jaimie doesn’t take offense to this because I really did enjoy the book, I would just say that in a few places I felt the story was a little repetitive. When Mackenzie was arguing with Dan, I felt that the argument went round and round with the same statements repeat – I suppose how a real argument is! Other than that I think that Kismetology is a brilliant debut novel from an author that I am very excited to see what else has in for us.

If you are a Chick Lit fan then I would definitely recommend this fantastic, easy read to you.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

November...what a month!

November was supposed to be the month I wrote my first novel. Instead it turned out to be one of the worst months of my life! The first couple of days started well with the writing, then it was a little shaky, before I picked up again on the second week, but after that it all went to pot!

I knew after the second week that I wasn't going to meet the 30th November deadline for my book, but I fully intended to give it a damn good go. I knew I would fall behind in the third week due to a mini-break with my other half in Amsterdam, but I planned to play catch up once I returned. But, as with all plans, they never work out as you think they will.

On the day of our return from Amsterdam, I discovered that my sister and mum were going through some personal issues, which I can't really go into at this time, this mean't that my ten-month-old nephew was to live with me for a while. Having no children of my own and Mason being the only child I have ever really been around it has been an incredibly difficult two weeks, with little sleep, toys everywhere, lots of sick and dirty nappies and one very poorly little baby. Thankful this nightmare is coming to a close and he will soon be back with his Mummy, but for now he is staying with his Nanny and Popsy.

In the middle of last week my other half, Dean, found out that someone very close to him had been diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. This was a massive blow to both of us, but we are hoping that the outcome will be positive. 

During all of this I have had to play piggy in the middle and try and remain positive for everyone and with one thing sorted, I feel emotionally drained. Things at home are starting to get back to normal and my dogs are pleased that there is no snotty baby tugging at their ears! With normality resumed, here's to December!