Thursday, 23 June 2011

Book review: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case HistoriesCase Histories by Kate Atkinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I won this book as part of a competition and I really wanted to read it because I'd recently watched the Case Histories series starring Jason Isaacs. The writing was superb, Atkinson really delves into the characters and you learn a lot about the families of those missing or dead. I'd say only about half of the book is Jackson Brodie. It's not a traditional crime novel, which is brilliant and instead it tells the story as if someone is speaking to you, with little injections of thought. This makes it really easy to read, although it didn't have 'the pull'. Maybe that was because I already knew the plot, so I knew who the killers were. Unfortunately this means that all of the Jackson Brodie novels, that have been adapted for the BBC, won't be five stars, however I am eager to read something without Brodie as the main character, so I can use my own imagination!

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dad's Visit

These last few days have been exceptionally busy. Normally my life is dull, well, it is according to my friends haha, but on the weekend I went back down South to visit some loved ones and then on the Sunday, my Dad (left) came up with me to see where I live.
On the Monday, we went to Llangollen, a lovely little tourist town just over the border into Wales. There's a fantastic river that rushes through it, as well as a train station and a canal where you can go on a narrow boat ride. The reason why I love the place is because it's full of little delicatessens and touristy shops. You can get horseradish cheese there that is simply to die for! So I spent a load of money on food haha and we had a lovely lunch in one of the little cafes by the river.
After leaving Llangollen town centre, we went to Valle Crucis Abbey (pictured to the right). It was only a five minute drive away, but was situated in the middle of nowhere. The place was completely empty, which surprised me because it was a wonderful thing to see. Obviously some kids from the next door campsite did too because there were a few beer bottles lying around. The front of the abbey, and the ruins that remained were amazing. It's hard to believe that a building built so solidly is now in ruins. The people that now own the abbey have restored some of it, which I think was a bit of a disappointment, because it was shoddily done, the ground was uneven and there was no beauty in it. What did remain was incredible to see and after watching and reading Pillars Of The Earth (completely unrelated I know!), I now know more about monks and how they would go about their day to day activities. It's easy to picture them roaming about the now desolate abbey. If you ever go to Llangollen it's definitely something to see!     

Friday, 17 June 2011

Book review: Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

Hidden depthsHidden depths by Ann Cleeves

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

I read Hidden Depths in preparation for meeting the author at my local independent book store in Oswestry. Before this, I had read one of Cleeves' Jimmy Perez novels which I enjoyed but wasn't wowed by. Then they showed 'Vera' on ITV, the television versions of Cleeves' Vera Stanhope books. If I hadn't known who the killer was, this book would've been five stars. In a way, I took the mystery out of it myself, which I wish I hadn't done! All the other Vera Stanhope books have also been made into the series, so although I will enjoy them, they won't be five starrers. Silent Voices, the newest Ann Cleeves book hasn't been televised yet, so I can't wait to get my hands on that one! They are solid crime fiction and the character of Vera is exceptionally written. If I hadn't watched it, I would never have guessed who the killer was. Brilliant crime fiction!

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

CSI Oswestry

Tonight, me and Mum went to CSI Oswestry, a local event held by Shropshire Libraries and Booka Bookshop in town. There were two parts to the evening, the first was a talk by Elly Griffiths (right) one of my favourite authors! Following her was Paul Beeton, a CSI who worked in Shropshire. Unfortunately, I have no picture for him. I did take a picture of his amazingly cool van, it had Forensic Investigation written across the side and a big picture of a thumbprint in a magnifying glass. However, I can't get it off my phone! Grrrr! You'll just have to trust me that it's awesome.
Elly was lovely to listen to. Her books about Dr. Ruth Galloway, Forensic Archaeologist are excellent. I love the fact that she manages to talk about love and murder and still throw in a twist at the end. She discussed her inspirations and answered questions about her writing style and ideas. Her new book is due out in January. Can't wait! I might have to make an exception in my book ban haha! At the end she signed my copy of The House At Sea's End.
Paul Beeton was also excellent. His first bit of information was that we live in a murder hot spot. Oswestry has the most murders in Shropshire by far apparently! He discussed the TV shows like CSI and how unlike the real world they actually are. Most of it was pretty much common knowledge, but it was interesting to hear it from his point of view. It certainly gave me some ideas about my own books!
All in all it has been a great night. Tomorrow, I'm travelling down to Sussex and then Dad's coming up for a few days, so there probably won't be another entry in a while unless I can get Nan's Wi-Fi up and running! Fingers crossed!  

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Cleeves and Booka!

These last few days have been very eventful! For a start I got my haircut and dyed. Why is it that the day before you get your haircut you have a great hair day? Anyway, I've now got a bob and bright red hair! Wahoo!
Yesterday evening me and Mum went to Booka Bookshop to meet Ann Cleeves (left), writer of the Jimmy Perez and Vera Stanhope novels. The latter of which have recently been made into an ITV series. She was lovely and really interesting, talked about her books and the series, answering a few questions afterwards. I plucked up the courage and asked her how far into the book she knew who the murderer was. Her answer was sometimes up to 3/4 of the way through! Sitting in front of me and Mum was Mavis Nicholson (right), political broadcaster from the 70's and 80's. She was very chatty and talked to us before Ann Cleeves started.
Today, I went back to Booka to collect a prize that I won. A while ago I entered a competition, writing a 50 word review for Stephen King's The Stand. I never expected to win, normally I don't win! But I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Carrie Morris, owner of Booka, telling me that I'd won! My prize was 25 books. They're the books from World Book Night 2011 and consequently cannot be bought. The idea is that they should be shared and passed on to other people to read. I think that's a great idea, but I am reluctant to pass on my prize haha! When sorting out my books, I now realised that I have 100 books that I haven't yet read, so I'm banning myself from buying any more books! I wonder how long that will last!
I'm still trying out my camera and my A Photo A Day Project can be seen here. Instead of adding the pictures on here, they can be seen via my Facebook account.
Right, I'm off to read, I have to get through all of those books!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Photography - Day 4

Ginge The Bunny
It's Day 4 and remarkably, I'm still keeping up with my photography mission. Normally I get bored or forget haha! After my expedition down to the end of the garden yesterday in the pouring rain I thought I'd have another go in drier conditions. Today, the very cute Ginge The Bunny (that's his full title by the way) was outside . He's from next door but he often pops over for carrots and lettuce. He's a very sociable rabbit and I could actually lie down next to him and snap away without him really caring. Anyway, another photo tomorrow!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Photography Mission!

10th June 2011

12th June 2011
11th June 2011
For my last birthday (Apr 21), my lovely Dad gave me a brand new, shiny DSLR and I've made it my mission to take a decent picture everyday. This is mostly so I can get use to the camera and find out which button does what so that when I go on holiday and for special occasions I know exactly what I'm doing. I started this a couple of days ago so there are three pics one for the 10th, 11th and 12th. Let me know what you think! xxx

Friday, 10 June 2011

Book review: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember (The Ember Series, #1)The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau

I made the mistake of seeing the film first when it came to this book. Unlike the majority of other cases I actually enjoyed the film more than the book. Despite that, I did like the book. It had 'the pull' that kept you turning page after page. The characters of Lina, Doon and their respective guardians were well written and I'm glad that the author didn't create a romantic storyline for them. It was an easy read, which was just what I was looking for. However, there were several downsides in relation to the film. The one think I remembered about the movie was the clever mechanism with the boats and how they got into the water. It was a bit of a disappointment for them to just pick up the boats and put them in the river. I felt like the instructions were a bit of a disappointment. It was simply, find the hole and climb into it rather than working anything out.
Overall, I gave it three stars because it did entertain and if I come across the rest of the books I will read them. The idea itself is also brilliant. But I actually would've preferred a novelised version of the film!

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Friday, 3 June 2011

Book review: Disclosure by Michael Crichton

DisclosureDisclosure by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclosure by Michael Crichton

This is one of the most addictive books I've ever read. If I hadn't had to finish a book due back at the library as well as one for my book club, then I would have read this in perhaps three or four days.
For a start, Crichton treates his readers as intelligent. He explains DigiCom in great detail, including the various products they're working on. To begin with, I wasn't entirely sure why he was telling us all about it, but it becomes clear later in the novel. The characters he portrays are vivid, well written and easily imaginable.
When the sexual harrassment occurs and the case begins to open up, it's easy to find yourself taking sides. It's easy to understand why this book was talked about for such a long time after it's publication. As a female I was horrified to read what female characters said about men in terms of sexual harrassment. Another character made the broad statement that all men were violent. It's definately a very contraversial book. I now wish I had someone to talk to about it because it makes you want to talk to others and find out their opinions.

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Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Book And A Beer (And A Laugh)...

I have just got back from A Book And A Beer, a local book club held in Oswestry in an independant book store, Booka. There are far too many 'books' in that sentence! It's the first time I've been, but it does mean I've completed the third part of the new me, attending the book club! Now I need some new challenges, the first of which I think will be going walking with Sophie, followed closely by actually starting my new job. Sophie, by the way, is the friend I made at Routeway, the programme I go to every Thursday to look for jobs and get the assistance I need.
Anyway, back to the book club. We started off discussing the book, Waterlog by Roger Deakin. You can see my review of the book on Goodreads, here. Some people were very passionate about it, while others thought it floundered towards the end, no pun intended. It was interesting listening to other people's opinions. Afterwards, we picked the book to be read in two sessions time, To Miss With Love by Katharine Birbalsingh. I was generally happy with the choice, but it was a hard one to make with such a fantastic choice from Lorraine. There were several other books on the list I would have been happy with. I'm already filing some books away in my head for when I get the chance to offer a shortlist. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson are already on there. Following the book club, we went to do the beer part of A Book And A Beer at The Oak. It was nice chatting to Tim and Carrie about books and the shop, which I am very envious of! The conversation drifted off a bit into other topics and I'm now bringing half a dozen eggs into Booka on Saturday for Carrie. It was lovely to spend time with people that I've never met before and I can't wait for six weeks to go by so I can get stuck into The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and meet up with the others to chat about life in general and the book. 

Book review: Waterlog by Roger Deakin

Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through BritainWaterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain by Roger Deakin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain by Roger Deakin

This review and rating is more a reflection of my likes rather than the book itself. Roger Deakin is a brilliant writer, there's no question in that. His writing is almost poetic full or rich similies and metaphors. The way he describes the rivers and the towns in which they reside makes the reader want to go there and visit. I unfortunately am not a fan of non-fiction, I struggle because of the lack of plot and 'the pull'. I wish I did enjoy travel writing, because if so this would be a definite five out of five. If I travel to any of the places mentioned in the book, I will be taking this book for me as a reference to the history and famous faces that go with the wild rivers, lidos and lakes.

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