Book Blog Tour ~ Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere is an engrossing read, set in what at first glance appears to be a surburban paradise. A cast of fully engaging, perfectly rounded-out characters make for a compelling but slow-moving story.

Elena Richardson is a journalist, a homemaker, a wife and mother, and Shaker Heights, the suburb of Cleveland where she grew up and is raising her family, is her perfect habitat. Everything is meticulously planned, and everyone plays by the rules, even when they don’t.

Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, arrives to rent a house from the Richardsons, and moves in with her teenage duaghter Pearl. Very soon, the two families, so different in their make-up and outlook, begin to weave themselves into each others’ lives; Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson children, Mia begins domestic work for the family, and develops a relationship with Izzie, the youngest Richardson daughter, long since marked out as the black sheep.

The novel begins with a fire destroying the Richardson house, and from there the action takes us back to the day that Mia and Pearl arrived in Shaker Heights. The story weaves a slow-moving and insightful journey through the six months that elapse between their arrival and the fire, and the reader is left guessing as to what will come next. A custody battle involving a Chinese-American baby provides the catalyst for the drama, leaving Elena and Mia on opposing sides of what they see as a moral battle.

This is the first Celeste Ng book I have read, despite hearing nothing but praise for her debut novel Everything I Never Told You. I just love how absorbing this story is; all the time I was reading it, whenever I had to put it down to do something I else, I just wanted to head back to spend time with these characters. They aren’t all likable, but they are so well written that they feel entirely real. The setting of Shaker Heights feels just slightly oppressive, but is written about with a knowing tone; the idea that you’d get a fine for leaving your lawn uncut for too long is written about humourously and we are encouraged to roll our eyes at this kind of autocratic dictate.

Now that I’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for Ng’s writing, I’m going to be seeking out Everything I Never Told You.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Publication Date: 9th November 2017
ISBN: 9781408709719
Little Brown
Provided by publisher

August & September 2017 Books

August-&-September-Books

This is how behind I am with every single blog post that I have been meaning to write – these are the books I read in August and September. It’s now November!

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz*
This is the second Horowitz book I’ve read this year, having previously enjoyed Magpie Murders. This is another unusual set-up; though it’s a work of fiction, Horowitz inserts himself as a character into the story. The character in the story is approached by a former detective, who is working as a consultant on a murder, and wants a book written about it. It may seem gimmicky, but it really worked for me. The murder mystery itself was compelling, and kept me guessing – all in all an enjoyable read!

Tin Man by Sarah Winman
Tin Man is a beautiful book; it took me just a day to finish it , because I found it very hard to put down once I had become immersed in the story. It’s an incredibly moving story about life, love and loss, with characters who became so real to me that they have remained with me even at a distance of months. It’s a captivating story that doesn’t honestly have a huge amount of plot, but weaves a beautiful story all the same.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal*
One of my 35 Before 35 items was to try and read more diversely. I have failed miserably in this; despite trying hard I have let myself down! When this popped up on Netgalley, I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did – trying to read more diversely is about opening my eyes to ideas, cultures, histories and experiences that are different from my own. This was a fun and silly book, but it gave me an insight into the way that British Sikhs live that I didn’t have before.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
I spotted Pax in Waterstones when I was out shopping one Saturday morning, and it immediately appealed to me. It’s the story of a fox and his boy companion; Peter rescued Pax as a kit, and developed a strong bond, as they had both recently lost their mothers. The book follows them both as they are separated from one another, and trying to find each other again. The writing is beautiful, with the foxes in particuarly being characterised quite wonderfully, and it also includes some lovely illustrations. But I have to confess that I was a little disappointed with the ending.

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve recently renewed my Audible subscription, and this was the first book that I downloaded. I had seen such a lot of hype about this Young Adult book about the D.C. Comics character that I was keen to read it. It tells the story of a young woman from modern day New York, who ends up crashing onto Themyscira, home to the Amazons, and Diana Prince, also known as Wonder Woman. When Diana discovers that Alia is the Warbringer, descended from Helen of Troy and destined to bring about the end of the world, she takes it upon herself to save Alia, therefore saving the world.
It took me a while to get into this, and I wonder if it’s because I was listening rather than reading, or if it did indeed take a while to get going. I ended up really enjoying it though; this may have had something to do with just how much I loved the recent Wonder Woman film, but that notwithstanding, it’s a dynamic story, set partly on Theymyscira, and partly in our world. It’s an exciting and well-written story that I would highly recommend to anyone, regardless of your comic book background.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers.

Books in 2017 – 30

35 Before 35 ~ Get new glasses

Every year I make a list of things I’d like to achieve before my next birthday, and every year I fail to tick off at least 75% of them. I’m notoriously rubbish at them, but I just like making the lists, and giving it a go. And then it gets to a week before my birthday, and I realise that I have ticked some things off, but completely forgotten to blog about them.

So here we are again; my birthday is on Sunday and I’m blogging frantically! One thing that I put on the list as a way to try and motivate me to actually do, was to get new glasses. I’ve needed to get my eyes tested for ages, but have put it off again and again, before finally heading along to Boots in March.

Once I had a new prescription, I started looking for new glasses. I never buy from opticians anymore, because their glasses are just too darn expensive. So I always take a look at a variety of online glasses retailers, to see if anything takes my fancy.

Glasses

I ended up buying from a company called Glasseslit, because I spotted these particular glasses in a sponsored Instagram post (Instagram, you know what you’re doing). Glasseslit are based in Asia, and offer some really competitive prices. My glasses took a long time to come, but this was due to my prescription, and I have to say, the customer service has been second to none. They answer queries really quickly, and have been really helpful.

I LOVE these glasses. They are big and obnoxious, but I just feel like they suit me, and I think they are most excellent. I recently worked at a big work event, processing people coming through the doors, and I got quite a few comments about my glasses (all positive of course – would anyone be mean enough to say anything nasty?).

I’m already in the market for another pair of glasses, simply because I like to have a lot of choice, but I think I’ll be hard pressed to find another pair that I like as much as these.

In case you’re interested, the frames that I chose are called Ansel, but they appear to no longer be available to purchase. However, the Josie frames are very similar, though slightly different colours, and are a bargainous $9.90.

7. Get new glasses

 

Life Lately

Life Lately

Well here we are again. Every so often I find myself writing a post like this, alternating between apologising for never blogging, and wondering if blogging is still for me. Of course, I know there’s no need to apologise; who’s sitting around and waiting for me to write a blog post? And my ruminations on whether or not to jack the whole thing in always come down on the side of ‘but I will get around to blogging more at some point…’ I guess I’m just reluctant to say a permanent goodbye.

My dilemma (or dilemna) is that I would love to make more of my blog. I’d love to make some extra money, and have some more opportunities as a result of this little space of internet real estate. But to have those opportunities, you have to put the work in. And I’m already putting the work in at the job I get paid real money for. Also, I’m lazy. There’s no two ways about it; given the option between making a plan, sticking to it, writing regularly, taking and editing photos, connecting with other bloggers, making good contacts etc, and sitting on the settee and watching The Apprentice, I’m going to choose the latter nine times out of ten. That’s who I am.

I do have a list of posts I want to write. I want to finally get around to sharing some of my very few 35 Before 35 successes. And as my birthday approaches, I will be sharing my 36 Before 36 list. And then there’s all that’s in between; I’m hoping that as I blog more, the inspiration to write more interesting and entertaining posts will arise. I’ll be seeing you.

Book Blog Tour ~ Death in the Stars by Frances Brody

Eclip9780349414317 (1)se fever has gripped Britain in 1927; in Yorkshire, trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton has been approached by theatre star Selina Fellini to accompany her to a viewing party. Kate, canny and wary as ever, suspects an ulterior motive, and when Selina’s friend and party guest Billy Moffatt dies in mysterious circumstances, Kate can’t help but start investigating.

This is the fourth year in a row that I have been asked to read a Kate Shackleton Mystery for my blog, and I have to say, I do look forward to that email arriving! This is the ninth in the series by Frances Brody, and though I have enjoyed the preceding three mysteries that I have read, there’s no worry here that you have to go back to the start in order to enjoy the newest one.

The mystery itself is self-contained, as always, so the enjoyment comes from simply going along for the ride, and trying to work out who the villain is. And this is a book set in the theatre world of the 1920s, meaning there’s glamour and excitement to be enjoyed, alongside the sense that it won’t be long until these music hall performers find their stars eclipsed by movie stars.

As I’ve noted in previous reviews of Brody’s mysteries, I am always struck by the carefulness with which a woman’s place in society is handled. Kate Shackleton is not a 2017 version of a 1920s woman; she’s a woman of her time – confident and sure in her ability to solve these cases, but conscious of how she is viewed and treated by the men around her.

The mystery itself is a fun one to try and work out; I was none-the-wiser as to the identity of the villain throughout the book until the final reveal. There are plenty of red herrings to contend with, as with all the best mystery novels, and I was well and truly left guessing.

Death in the Stars
First published: 5th October 2017
ISBN: 9780349414317
Piatkus
Review copy provided by publisher

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