Monday, March 30, 2015

Blood, Wine and Chocolate by Julie Thomas

Title: Blood, Wine and Chocolate

Author: Julie Thomas

Published: HarperCollins, 1 March 2015

Pages: 352

Summary: Hidden away in a witness protection programme on an idyllic island vineyard in New Zealand, Vinnie Whitney-Ross could be forgiven for thinking he has escaped the clutches of the childhood friend - a ruthless London mobster - he helped convict for a gruesome double murder. But old grudges die hard, cops are bent, and the finest wines and chocolates find new and unexpected uses when Vinnie's present runs headlong into his secret past. From the mean streets of the East End to the sparkling waters of Auckland, this tale of switched identities, vengeful obsession and lethal ingenuity is as addictive as chocolate, with more twists than a corkscrew.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading the synopsis I was pretty interested in reading this book.  For starters, it sounded like an interesting thrillerish crime novel which I am always interested in, and secondly I am trying to read more books by New Zealand authors, which Julie Thomas is.

I felt like the story was slow to get into the murder aspect, as it took quite a few pages to set up the story.  It was probably about a third of the book that was spent setting up the backgrounds of the characters.  I did find it quite interesting.  

This book wasn't as much of a thriller as what I was expecting but focused more on the crime aspect.  The book was set in a mob boss kind of scene but at the same time it tended to follow Vinnie's life a bit more which was less involved in the whole mob scene.

There are so many things that happen in this book that when I finished it I felt a little overwhelmed by all of the events.  I did enjoy this book, it just wasn't what I was completely expecting.  I really did enjoy the dark comedy aspect that was thrown into the mix a little bit.

I will definitely be interested in checking out more of Julie Thomas' books in the future as her writing was quite nice.

Source: HarperCollins for review

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Title: I Am The Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak

Published: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006 (first published 2002)

Pages: 357

Summary: Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I have wanted to read this book for the longest time.  I have only heard good things about I Am the Messenger and the synopsis makes it sound really intriguing.  So I randomly decided to pick it up off my shelf one day and give it a go.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't really get into I am the Messenger very much.  It's hard to explain but I just felt like I couldn't connect with any of the characters and they just seemed like people I didn't particularly care about.

I tried to be interested in the story and when I picked it up I felt a little intrigued by what was happening but at the same time I was kind of bored most of the time.  I also felt like the writing would gloss over things sometimes and so I would miss out on some of the details.  It would leave me a little confused for a minute or two.

The ending was just odd.  I don't want to go into it and give away spoilers but it sort of made me a little annoyed at the actions of some of the characters.  It also just left me feeling a little bit empty.

Perhaps I missed the entire point of the book or it could just be that I am the Messenger just wasn't the book for me.  I went into it thinking that it was going to be a thriller but it really isn't, it's more of a contemporary story which I don't always like at the best of times.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris

Title: A Bone to Pick

Author: Charlaine Harris

Published: Gollancz, 2012

Pages: 199

Series: Book 2, Aurora Teagarden

Summary: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS Roe Teagarden's been kept pretty busy, what with two weddings - one of a former lover - and a funeral, for Jane Engle, a member of her disbanded true crime club Real Murders, but her personal life seems to be at a standstill . . . until the reading of Jane Engle's will. The elderly lady has named Roe as her heir, and left her a rather substantial estate. It includes her house - which comes complete with a skull hidden in a window-seat. Roe is quite sure Jane was no killer, so she must have left the skull there on purpose for Roe to solve the murder. So now it's up to Roe to identify the victim and figure out which one of Jane's seemingly ordinary neighbours is a murderer - without putting herself in deadly danger.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After really enjoying the first book in this series, I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  

The mystery aspect was quite interesting as it wasn't a typical mystery where the police are involved from step one and it's not so much of an investigation.  I felt like this time Roe, just found out information through random chats with people and she didn't really go out of her way to investigate.

I feel like at first I got a little mixed up between this series and another cosy mystery series I've been reading so what I really need to do is pick one of the series and finish reading that before I start reading the other.  Just because there were times where I thought that  something was the case but that it was actually a completely different series.  I do think that I will probably continue this series first because there are fewer books in this one which means I can finish it faster.

I couldn't guess the mystery because I wasn't really presented with enough information for me to really figure it out.

I also missed the Real Murders club because I thought that aspect of the first book made it seem really interesting.  It will be interesting to see if they bring that up in more detail in later books.

I quite enjoyed A Bone to Pick and I am already looking forward to reading the next book in the series because it looks just as interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Title: Strawberry Shortcake Murder

Author: Joanne Fluke

Published: Kensington, 2011

Pages: 320

Series: Book 2, Hannah Swensen

Summary: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! When the president of Hartland Flour chooses cozy Lake Eden, Minnesota, as the spot for their first annual Dessert Bake-Off, Hannah is thrilled to serve as the head judge. But when a fellow judge, Coach Boyd Watson, is found stone-cold dead, facedown in Hannah's celebrated strawberry shortcake, Lake Eden's sweet ride to fame turns very sour indeed.
Between perfecting her Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie and Chocolate Crunchies, Hannah's snooping into the coach's private life and not coming up short on suspects. And could Watson's harsh criticism during the judging have given one of the contestants a license to kill? The stakes are rising faster than dough, and Hannah will have to be very careful, because somebody is cooking up a recipe for murder. . .with Hannah landing on the "necessary ingredients" list.  (Taken from Goodreads)
Thoughts: After really enjoying the first book in the series I was looking forward to reading Strawberry Shortcake Murder. I was in the mood for something light and fun so this was the perfect book.

I did manage to guess who the murderer was, which I always find fun to do. I like that the clues are all there and it's just a matter of putting the right clues together to come up with the right conclusions.

The recipes in the book also just sound so good and there are a few that I would really love to try out.  The majority of them sound so good.  I think my one complaint about this series is that the descriptions of food always make me feel really hungry.

Overall, I really enjoyed Strawberry Shortcake Murder, it was a light, fun and really entertaining read.  I really love this series and look forward to reading the next book.

Monday, March 16, 2015

AsapSCIENCE by Mitchell Moffit & Greg Brown

Title: AsapSCIENCE: Answers to the World's Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumours & Unexplained Phenomena

Author: Mitchell Moffit, Greg Brown

Published: 17 March 2015, Scribner

Pages: 256

Book Depository*

Summary: From the creators of the wildly popular and seriously scientific YouTube channel, AsapSCIENCE, comes entertaining, irreverent, and totally accessible answers to the questions you never got to ask in science class.

Why do we get hung over? What would happen if you stopped sleeping? Is binge-watching TV actually bad for you? Why should I take a power nap?  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts:  As a fan of the youtube channel I was excited to read the book and learn some new things.  Needless to say I was quite happy reading through the book and I did learn some very interesting facts.  I feel like it definitely had some interesting facts to relay to my friends.

The illustrations are really basic but they just add a lot to the text and make it all the more interesting.  The pictures were just so cool.  One of my favourites was a picture of a zombie because it just looked awesome.

One complaint, or just observation, I have is that some of the chapters were a little more comprehensive than others and I felt like it would have been nice to just have a little bit more of an explanation of things in some places.

I enjoyed reading AsapSCIENCE and I think it will make a good addition to my random collection of non-fiction books as it is entertaining and contains a lot of interesting information.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving by Hannah Glasse

Title: Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving

Author: Hannah Glasse

Published: Penguin Classics, 2011

Pages: 112

Summary: Writing for domestic servants in a conversational, accessible way, eighteenth-century housewife Hannah Glasse disapproved of French terminology and fussiness, instead favouring simple dishes that are still cooked today - a preference that has earned her the reputation of 'the first Domestic Goddess'.

With recipes for rice pudding, beef rump, barbecued pork, trifle and even the first recipe in Britain for 'Curry the Indian way', as well as tips for choosing your ingredients and cures for the bite of a mad dog, this is an elegant and economical collection of recipes and housekeeping tips to save any homemaker 'a great deal of trouble'.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I'm quite enjoying reading through the Penguin Great Food series and this is the second one I have read.  This one focuses around being a guide book for housewives and so it has sections that are written to make life easier for housewives and their maids.

There is one section in the book about how to prepare your turtle for cooking which I was a little surprised at because I had no idea that people ever ate turtles.  It also was a little bit shocking because it was pretty graphic on the ways of killing a turtle to prepare for cooking.

Not only does this book have recipes but it also has handy things such as identifying if meat is good or bad.  It also has some little household remedies and also some recipes on how to make different soaps.  It is quite a fascinating little book.

I quite enjoyed reading Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving because it just really interests me to learn about the way food used to be prepared and how ingredients have changed over time etc.  While I probably wouldn't make any of these recipes myself, I still thought it was a good book to read through.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel

Title: The Secret Recipes

Author: Dominique Ansel

Published: Murdoch Books, February 2010

Pages: 272

Summary: Dominique Ansel is the creator of the Cronut pastry, the croissant-doughnut hybrid that has taken the world by storm. But he's no one-hit wonder. Classically trained in Paris, leader of a three-Michelin-starred pastry kitchen in New York and now the proprietor of New York's highest-rated bakery, Dominique has become a modern-day Willy Wonka: the creator of wildly innovative, extraordinarily delicious and unbelievably popular desserts.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I was really interested in reading this book because I love food, and I love making food.  I have tried a version of the cronut and I was curious as to how to make it.

I quite liked reading this one as there are a few chapters that feature stories about how Dominique Ansel came up with the ideas of some of his creations.  There are also a tonne of pictures that look amazing.

The recipes are really easy to follow as well.  They're classed as beginner, intermediate and advanced recipes so if you need to, you can start at the beginner's stuff and work your way up to advanced.  There are also a lot of very clear instructions, so that you can know what you're doing each step of the way.

I enjoyed reading through The Secret Recipes and this is definitely one I will be adding to my collection of recipe books.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

Title: Prodigal Son

Author: Danielle Steel

Published: 6 March 2015, Bantam Press

Pages: 318

Book Depository*

Summary: Twin boys grow up in the same family, in the same town. Dramatically different, they become bitter enemies, even as children: one good, one bad. One leaves his peaceful hometown, but when all else fails, the prodigal son returns, twenty years later, moving into his parents' lakeside cottage. But the reunion of the brothers, sweet and healing at first, exposes shattering revelations...  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I had never read anything by Danielle Steel before and I was a little apprehensive about reading this one as a lot of the time when an author has a large number of books published there is generally a lower quality to the stories.  However, I found Prodigal Son to be a very enjoyable read.

Danielle Steel has this really nice style of writing.  It just flows on really nicely and I found myself flicking happily through the pages and really enjoying the story that Danielle Steel was weaving.

The story itself is pretty straight forward and the revelations just unravel and then the consequences of those things get explored.  I have to say that I really did find the book enjoyable but the subject matter is a little bit on the heavy side but I feel like this is a softer novel.

There were a couple of times where I wanted to yell at Peter because he was being so blind.  I think that was also kind of good because it matched with events in the book.  It's really hard to talk about some of the things because I don't want to give anything away.

I really enjoyed Prodigal Son, it was just such a nice story to read and not wanting to give anything away, as the story progressed further, it got so intense.  

Source: Penguin Random House for review

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Books I had to read in High School

I was thinking about it the other day and I realised that I always like to know what books people had to read in high school for English. So today I thought I would make a post about the books I had to read in high school and what I thought of them.

I did not like Hatchet at all.  I hardly remember much of it but I remember thinking that it was really boring and honestly this was one book I had to read for school that I just didn't like.

I had actually already read this one for fun so I thought it was cool to read through a book that I had already read.  I do like this book.

I thought this book was quite interesting as it dealt with cults and it kept me quite intrigued.  Not my normal kind of read but it was quite interesting.

I loved Macbeth and it started me off on my love of Shakespeare.

I really did not like the Crucible.  It is such a tiny little book but it took me the longest time to read.

I really loved King Lear and we actually got to go on a trip to the theater to see a production of King Lear.  It was so amazing.

So those were the books that I had to read in high school.  What did you have to read?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Februrary Wrap-Up

Another month has been and gone and now it is time to talk about all of the books that I managed to read this month.  I feel as though this month wasn't too bad of a reading month for me.  Especially as I don't have plans to get a large amount of reading done for the first half of the year, while I finish up my masters degree.  I have to say that I feel like the majority of the month was run by food related books.  Anyway, the books I read in February:

Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel

Rating: 4/5 on Goodreads
My review for this will be posted up close to the release date,
I received this book for review.

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward

Rating: 5/5 on Goodreads
I received this book for review.

AsapSCIENCE by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown

Rating: 3/5 on Goodreads
My review will be posted up later in the month
I received this book for review.

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Rating: 3/5 on Goodreads.
You can check out my review here.
This counts towards my 2015 reading challenge as a book more than 100 years old.

Exciting Food For Southern Types by Pellegrino Artusi

Rating: 4/5 on Goodreads.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Rating: 2/5 on Goodreads.

The Secret Recipes by Dominique Ansel

Rating: 4/5 on Goodreads.
Review to come later in the month.

Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving by Hannah Glasse

Rating: 3/5 on Goodreads.
Review to come later in the month.

Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Rating: 4/5 on Goodreads
Review to come later in the month.