Bookmarks from Brainbox Candy

I don’t really own any bookmarks. Save a couple I’ve received as gifts that I usually forget exist (sorry), more often than not my bookmark is a piece of toilet roll, occasionally a train ticket and sometimes my library card. They all work right? I don’t fold pages, not even in borrowed books, I don’t like it and I will not go to the dark side. With this in mind, when I spied Brainbox Candy online (I truly can’t remember where – sorry), I thought I’d make a couple of investments.

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Four Auto/Biographies I’ve Loved

4booksSeems fitting to have a Four Books post about auto/biographies in my Auto/Biography Reading Month and it’s also given me a chance to think about the few I have actually read and enjoyed. I’m not huge on this type of book, even the people with the most thrilling lives don’t always manage to have it portrayed well, either by themselves or their biographer but in the below books I was impressed.

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Review: This Little Piggy by Bea Davenport

Review: This Little Piggy by Bea DavenportThis Little Piggy by Bea Davenport
Published by Legend Press on March 25th 2015
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Amazon (Affiliate Link)Goodreads
three-half-stars
It's the summer of 1984 and there is a sense of unease on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate. The residents are in shock after the suspicious death of a baby and tension is growing due to the ongoing miners' strike.

Journalist Clare Jackson follows the story as police bungle the inquiry and struggle to contain the escalating violence. Haunted by a personal trauma she can't face up to, Clare is shadowed by nine-year-old Amy, a bright but neglected little girl who seems to know more about the incident than she's letting on.

As the days go on and the killer is not found, Clare ignores warnings not to get too close to her stories and, in doing so, puts her own life in jeopardy.

A crime novel set at the height of the miner’s strike, allowing for all kinds of possible theories to be bandied about when a baby is found dead, fallen, thrown or dropped from the pram outside his flat. A horrific crime which is followed up by more strange occurences, more confusion and at times the police seem to be getting further and further entrenched in a mess they can’t sort out.

In the middle of it all is Clare, following the unsolved murder of Jamie (the baby) despite not being the local paper’s lead reporter. Clare is tenacious and goes head first into this job, nothing holding her back and impervious to what her seniors and all around her are telling her. She is determined to get to the bottom of the murder and whilst doing so, finds herself wrapped up in the lives of the others involved.

The first of these people is Finn, the romantic interest of the novel, who in his own way does becom important but in others, I felt detracted from the main storyline and wasn’t actually necessary. More important is Amy, the nine year old who claims she saw what happened and whilst her story changes every time they meet Clare cannot help but be drawn to her. Clare’s personal emotional issues are almost reflected upon Amy who laps them up and issues of professional judgment are slung Clare’s way from her closest friends in the industry.

Whilst no one wants to listen to Amy, Clare does and whilst she listens what is she actually hearing? There’s a point in the novel where things suddenly and cleverly twist and though it definitely wasn’t a 100% unexpected shock, it was a powerful moment, which Davenport lets us see through Clare’s eyes, delivering yet another blow. Once everything is revealed it’s possible to see why Clare’s character has seemed disengaged and almost blank at times throughout the novel, except where Amy is concerned. It’s a strange thing to try and write without giving a way spoilers but I think Davenport achieves something very clever with her reveal moments.

 

Beauty and The Beast – Easter Pantomime Review

I hadn’t been to a pantomime for about 15 years, possibly more, until Good Friday. I have got to say I didn’t hold them in very high esteem and always veered away from the big brash posters that popped up at Christmas, thinking NEVER. But then, of course, I have young children and more than this, I have young children who I want to enjoy as many things as possible and in some ways, pantomime is a great introduction to the theate for young children and so, when the opportunity to go and see the Epstein Theatre’s Easter Pantomime, LHK Productions version of Beauty and The Beast, I thought why not.

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Review: Aren’t We Sisters? by Patricia Ferguson

Review: Aren’t We Sisters? by Patricia FergusonAren't We Sisters? by Patricia Ferguson
Published by Penguin Books Limited (UK) on July 3rd 2014
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
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three-half-stars
Norah Thornby can no longer afford to live in her grand family home in the centre of Silkhampton. Unless, perhaps, she can find a respectable lodger.

But Nurse Lettie Quick is not nearly as respectable as she seems. What's really going on at the clinic she has opened? And why has she chosen Silkhampton?

Meanwhile the beautiful Rae Grainger has found the perfect place to stay, in an isolated house miles away from the town. It's certainly rather creepy, especially at candlelit bedtime, but Rae knows that all she has to do is stay out of sight, until others - paid, professional others - are ready to take her little problem away. Then she can just forget the whole ghastly business . . . can't she?

No one guesses, of course, that there's a killer quietly at work in Silkhampton; that in one way or another all three women are in danger...

I hadn’t read The Midwife’s Daughter before I got this out from the library and hadn’t been aware it had been published as a #2 in a series and to be honest, I don’t think it mattered, this novel stands alone well enough for me. I don’t doubt that if you’ve read the other novel you may pick up something more but I’ll just have to assume for now really!

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Review: Tiger Milk by Stefanie de Velasco

Review: Tiger Milk by Stefanie de VelascoTiger Milk by Stefanie de Velasco
Published by Head of Zeus on July 17th 2014
Genres: Fiction, General
Pages: 268
Format: Audiobook
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four-half-stars
We need to practise for later on, for real life. We need to know everything so nobody can ever mess with us.'

Nini and Jameelah are best friends forever. This summer they're going to grow up. Together. On their terms. But things don't always turn out the way you plan...

Tender, funny, shocking and tragic, TIGER MILK captures what it is to be young.

Oh I loved this book. I picked it up after seeing it on the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist and I am so pleased I did. I love the cover, although listening to an audio version means I don’t get to enjoy it on my bookshelf and I love how it reminded me so clearly and brightly of Berlin, I love that city.

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Intentions #3

Intentions

More intentions woo. My main aim of April is to embrace the time I have to get work done with the girls reverting to their 3 whole days a week at the childminder’s for the break. I probably sound like mother from hell for saying such a thing but I feel like I have been slowly losing more and more of my mind since September and the beginning of the preschool hours defined life. Anyway, let’s go.

Bookish Intentions

April is my Autobiography/Biography Reading Month. I’m not a big reader of this kind of thing, I occasionally pick up a short, lighthearted one but as a rule I’m not keen. It’s a shame I read the Roald Dahl biography earlier this year (possibly last year) as it’d be great right now but I have a few others to give a go. I’m also working my way through my library pile which is a mishmash of Baily’s Prize and Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction listed books, so far I’m one down (Aren’t We Sisters by Patricia Ferguson) and it was a good one.

The Netgalley list, which I told myself I’d tackle last month is shorter and I have enjoyed quite a few books from the list and hope to continue, especially as there’s at least one classed as a biography on there!

Writing Intentions

Zero. I am wrapped up in work and life so much that I can’t find the time I need to write and this basically means I’m failing but that’s all there is to it. I had another mini brainwave of an idea whilst on the bus back from the gym earlier that I’d like to play with and writing this has reminded me to at least note the idea down so that’s something.

Life Intentions

I tried to get to the three sessions a week with my personal trainer and immediately learned it simply isn’t possible with the setup we have – the hours she’s available and the hours I need to be at home teamed with his rota which is never complete means I’m reverting back to 2 a week from next week, which feels like a bit of a failure but I know it’s going to fit better with the way we live – two sessions a week I can squeeze in on work days before retrieving Jessy from preschool and if he’s home, I can skip the retrieval and get more work done. Balance upon balance upon balance. I’m a good few pounds lighter than January and I’d like to say I felt better for it but as always I’ve reached the 11-12 week spot (as anyone who has followed/known me a while knows) where I always give up. This time it won’t happen – as soon as I pay my trainer for April I know that I’m in it for longer than ever before. I’d love to fit into one of my Modcloth dresses, not that I have anywhere to go, but it’d be nice.

April is also the final month before TATTOO MONTH, where I’ve got my biggest tattoos to date booked in and therefore April will be about trying to save as much money as possible to ensure I can enjoy both getting my big tattoo in Manchester and our Tattoo Convention in Liverpool.

My final life point is that I’ve realised once again that I don’t ever seem to do anything with friends ever, which is a bit sad and I need to magic up some way of changing this – it’d mainly involve moving the people I’d like to spend time with locally so…perhaps I really do need magic.

That’s OK isn’t it? Intentions-wise – it’ll have to do!

March: Irish Literature Month

RMOI was so looking forward to my Irish Literature Reading Month and it has been fun. In total I’ve read seven books by Irish authors this month (and if we’re gonna count The Barrytown Trilogy as three, it’s nine) and so many of them were wonderful. It’s hard not to be biased, I do love a well-written novel set in Ireland but then, many of the novels I read this month weren’t actually set in Ireland, they were just written by Irish authors and therefore my bias is avoid! Someof the novels I have written full reviews for which I will link back to, whilst others are reviewed below.

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Review: The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

Review: The Country Girls by Edna O’BrienThe Country Girls by Edna O'Brien
Published by Penguin Books on 1960
Genres: Fiction, Ireland
Pages: 187
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
four-stars
It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend Baba are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world; of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun.

With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin - where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world.

I’ve kind of killed two birds with one stone in reading this novel, although not entirely. The Country Girls was my choice for The Fem-Tellectual Book Club for March, which, was a month I was not looking forward to at all, in terms of theme/choice. The option for March was:

March: Pretty Sassy Ladies Read a book with a sassy protagonist.

I am not a fan of the word sassy, I can’t even really define it. I have read a lot of books which WOULD class as having sassy (I hate even writing it down and saying it) protagonists but I didn’t want to reread so having caught somewhere online that there was some sense of sassiness in The Country Girls, and the fact that it’s by an Irish author (bonus points for my Irish Reading Month) I went with it. I really enjoyed the novel, although I’m not entirely sure it fit into the brief at all.

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Review: Broken Harbour by Tana French

Review: Broken Harbour by Tana FrenchBroken Harbour by Tana French
Also by this author: , The Likeness
Published by Hachette Ireland on June 1st 2012
Pages: 544
Format: Paperback
Amazon (Affiliate Link)Goodreads
four-stars
In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad's star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once.

Scorcher's personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she's resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .

I am fast running out of Tana French novels, what am I going to do? It’s hard to believe, for me at least, that I only discovered my first novel by her in September last year as she has fast become one of my all-time favourites and I hate to think I only have one of her novels (strangely and unintentionally her first) left to read. Broken Harbour goes down as my third favourite of French’s novels, third out of four that I’ve read, which doesn’t sound great but I assure you it is, I really loved this novel and how it managed to completely draw me in and have me guessing and changing my mind and not being sure and just not knowing from beginning to end.

Broken Harbour was the novel I was most looking forward to reading as part of my Irish Reading Month.

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