Sunday, 5 November 2017

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The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

An enticingly fat book (nerd alert), you know you're about to read something epic when the book in question has inspired not only a TV series, but also a video game. Written in the 1970's, to add to its illustrious accomplishments this book has been on various best seller lists for long stretches of time.
The writing itself reminded me of traditional male story writing - Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan etc, though there is no sign of sci-fi or fantasy in this book. Part of the fiction genre, its the first installment of the Kingsbridge trilogy that narrates the building of a cathedral superimposed over the trials and tribulations in the lifetimes of several protagonists - Prior Philip; Aliena; Ellen and Jack; Tom Builder and the despicable William Hamleigh.
The central topic of the book is the building of the cathedral at the Kingsbridge Priory and the lives of many characters are indirectly impacted by its construction. I would imagine that Follett must have researched the architectural trends of that time (12th century) in great depth as the most poetic descriptions in the book are about the architecture of various buildings and most centrally, the cathedral itself.
This book deepened the dark rings around my eyes as I could not put it down, its reputation as one of Britains great reads well worth the honour. Its succeeded by World Without End, and most recently, A Column of Fire.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

The Pillars of the Earth - US


Sunday, 15 October 2017

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The Muse - Jessie Burton

Believable characters - that is one of the qualities that a great book has. Our protagonist here in The Muse almost makes me believe that I read her narrations in an accent apt to her Trinidad homeland. Odelle Bastien is a bright writer born in Trinidad who comes to London like many others in the 1960's to search for the dream. Her dream? To be a published writer. Instead she finds herself working in a shoe store for five years, struggling to gain an opportunity that is not biased by her skin tone. As fate would have it, she gets admin job at the Skelton Institute via the incredibly enigmatic Marjorie Quick. The book lightly touches on the racial challenges that Odelle deals with at that time, but more as to accentuate her and Quick as contrasting characters than for any other reason. 
Spiked with art related history in 1930's, this one may appeal to the fans of Picasso, having much of the books' story line set in the time of his popularity and the place of his birth - beautiful Malaga, on the Andalusian coast of Spain. 
I was genuinely surprised - not an easy feat! -  at the plot twist at the end. Author of the Miniaturist, Jessie Burton spell bounds with a fast developing plot and a refreshingly unconventional protagonist.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Friday, 15 September 2017

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Jessica Sepel - The Healthy Life

Just about exiting the 2-month post pregnancy crazy period, if ever there was a book that would make me run out in wild dash (well, almost!) to buy chia seeds, its this one. Compiled underneath a venerably wholesome looking cover with the extremely healthy looking Ms. Sepel, I opened the book to read with much skepticism. After all, are we not bombarded enough with trendy ways of eating and breathing and seeing and weeing etc?
Despite my doubts, I warmed to the read, particularly the easy recipes (no comments on the higher priced ingredients but for goodness sake it pays to be healthy?!) some of which I've already attempted to try - cue her mum Nicky's roast chicken and those tasty muesli bars . Espousing the merits of a cleaner and more health-conscious way of living and eating, Ms Sepel's written creed aims to take you on a holistic journey that doesn't end with a goal weight or a certain waist circumference, this is a lifestyle choice and eschews food excesses and any type of mental or physical toxicity that impacts overall wellness and mindfulness.
I'm particularly partial to the encouragement of giving the exercise a skip if it means that you are more in need of rest than activity. Guess that means I'm gona try to sneak in a cat nap..Looking forward to getting stuck into Living the Healthy Life
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

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The Shadow Sister - Lucinda Riley

I await each installment of the Seven Sister series with delicious anticipation, savouring the pleasant surprise each time that each book has been thicker than the last. That's because I know that every volume will be richly decorated by a bygone era's accurately depicted historical background set within a fictional tale for my - and of course, your - delight.
The Shadow Sister is the heritage tale of Star, the third of the D'Apliese sisters and the most (seemingly) introverted and enigmatic of them all. Named after Asterope in the constellation, her whole life Star had been the quiet side-kick you may call it, to the fourth sister, Cece who is as boisterous and spontaneous as she is reserved and measured.
Finally looking into the clues about her heritage left by Pa Salt, Star's journey of discovery leads her to make unlikely friends, and through them is taken back a hundred years via the diaries left by her ancestors to understand where she came from. New friendships and employment also begin to challenge the comfortable and immovable bond with Cece.
Romantic, delectably rich in historical imagery and littered with flowery English characters, as usual I find myself awaiting the next installment of  of the series - Cece's journey in the Pearl Sister - with much anticipation.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan 



Sunday, 7 May 2017

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What caught my eye most about this book was the lovely cover that seemed to scream enigma and  girly friendship - adventure to me. For the most part, I was right, particularly in the girly friendship -adventure prognosis.
Set in the seaside town of Brighton, England, the book follows three initially down-on-their-luck ladies who have all moved to the same apartment block at Dukes Square over the course of the past few months. Georgie, a twenty something resident of Stonefield who is confident and exuberant in nature follows her boyfriend to the town when he gets a 6-month architecture contract there. Charlotte, sombre divorcee who harbours the scars of a terrible trauma that has kept her completely anti-social and finally, Rosa, who upon finding out the man she loves was living a double life, promptly quit her high-flying job in advertising and moved to Brighton to become part of the minimum wage kitchen staff at the Hotel Zanzibar
A lightly written peace, I very aptly read this with a spectacular sea view in site. Great for an easy read where minimum mental taxation is desired and the expectation of a happy ending is guaranteed.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan 


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

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Gail Schimmel: The Park | Blog Tour | Pregnant musings from a swollen belly...Reading about Rebecca

Early in Rebecca's pregnancy,  she finds herself enjoying a routine of procrastinating, drinking tea and stroking her belly. That pretty much sum's up my existence over the past few months.
Just like our protagonist, I'm expecting a bundle of (grief? angst? hysteria?) joy in the next few months and as I read about her exploits from the comforts of my highly pillowed bed, I found myself frowning through her anxieties, admiring her never-ending maternal juice and practically sighing in exhaustion on account of her overall busyness. She may then, have provided a book-realm crash course in what can be expected in the next few months. The unyielding defense for her (adopted) daughter; the desire to connect with similar situation moms and a potential for a supernatural compassion so powerful that it may attract curious types people with needs that are too big to voice out loud.
Like Rebecca, I too have a 'Sean' who colours my days with husbandly charm that will soon extend into the realm of fatherhood. And like Rebecca, I appreciate him and cannot imagine the struggles that the Lilith's of the world have to go through in terms of enduring abuse in a pregnancy and then raising a child alone. I've known incredible women who have been abandoned with their swollen bellies either through fate or someone's choice and I cannot sing the praises of these unsung heroes enough. You never quite realise the sacrifice and sense of overwhelming that goes into bringing life into the world until you have to see it through your own eyes. So as a reader you cannot help but develop a macabre compassion for the choices that Lilith has made.
So here's to the Amazon's that we walk amongst everyday, the ones who scuttle about with swollen bellies to make the lives of those around (and inside of) them work. And, especially to those who don't have the support to get up and say "Ok, lets do this" for yet another day.



Thursday, 6 April 2017

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Coming soon.....

I'm excited to announce a new venture with Pan Macmillan, coming to the site on the 11th April!