Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Day Zero Project: Number 99

Own a white cat. Bit of a bizarre goal to have but I just love, love, love white cats, with black cats coming in a close second. Now I have both :).

I'd spotted my next door neighbour had gotten a white cat with just two small patches of black on its head and I was jealous! It had the most prettiest face I'd seen on a cat. My love for white cats was up and running again. So, on the off chance they had a white cat, I went for a wander at our local RSPCA on Saturday (25/9/10). Plus, I'm on the firm belief that animals pick you and completely own you, so if one did pick me and it wasn't white...better in my home owning me than being in a rescue shelter. (Not a word to the hubby.)

We'd barely gotten into the cat section and there he was. Drew.

At first we were nervous that he couldn't be ours. He needed a quiet home...three cats, a King Charles cavalier and two very vocal parrots in our house...what do you think? We asked anyway...I'm using the Royal 'we' here. I got hubby to go the asking. They'd only put it because he was a bit nervous/skittish. Well, we could handle that! Two of our three cats are tortoishell cats! Skittish is putting it lightly with them two!

We put a second reserve on him (someone else wanted him too, but they really needed a house cat because of where they lived, and Drew isn't a house cat...he needs his space, don't you know?!). Sunday afternoon comes around and we get a phone call, 'Would you like to come pick Drew up now?'

Never moved so quick in me life! Got Drew home and he's settling in quickly. Not phased by the dog one little bit. Marley thinks he can play with him like he can with our black kitten, Riley, but Drew's faaaar too sophisticated for that nonsense.

  The other two tortoishell cats, Fred (Winifred) and Gismo, are a pair of miserable, sour old women (they need their sleep), and don't take too kindly to the kitten at the best of times, even though he's been with us for 3 months now. Now add a white cat into the mix and they don't know whether they're coming or going, the poor things. Got one in my office under my chair as we speak and the other one under the hubby's chair in his office.

Now Riley the kitten is a little bit freaked by Drew and his colour but still does that child thing of, 'Ah! New cat to talk to! Hi, I'm Riley, who are you?' Only Drew isn't too keen on this way of doing things and gives him a warning before running away.

All will settle soon enough though. I think Riley and Drew will be sleeping pals in a few months, once Riley is out of the 'play-all-day-don't-need-sleep' phase. Although I do think Drew has been hit before he ended up in the rescue centre. He's very nervous round quick moving hands and people moving too quickly to him. Other than that, he's an affectionate, slightly forceful, soul who wants loving.

I can haz cheezburger nao?
That's Marley and Riley having a play. Best friends forever them two! Also, excuse the carpet, having recently decorated, and with a dog in the house, the carpet is due for its clean. *shame*

Friday, 17 September 2010

Day Zero Project: Number 75

Number 75 on the list is to start a blog and paper diary to keep a note of everything I do on the list. Well, here's the blog...and now the paper journal.
And it's all nicely decorated with stickers...love me a good notebook. Still fairly empty because I've not updated the tasks I've completed on my list and I've still got a fair few to go.

Go me with my organisation. Getting there slowly.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Start of a Beautiful Friendship

I've had my Kindle for nearly two weeks and it's love! All them books at the touch of a button. I can even get passages to see if I'll like the book...couldn't do that in a bookshop without getting some funny looks off the staff, with mutterings of, 'This is not a library!'

I'll still be a lover of the hard copy in my hands (I'm a secret page smeller...shhh! Don't tell anyone) and the feel of the covers, but being able to take a ton a books with me in that little thing is my idea of heaven. I'm terrible for taking at least ten books with me for a weekend trip anywhere, just so that I have choice, and sometimes they get a little ruined- I can't abide ruined books. Dog-eared and creased books make me cry and don't get me started on seeing someone lay a book flat down to hold their place whilst bending the spine so. I can almost hear the book whimper when I see that.

So yes. May I proudly introduce Emma's Amazon Kindle!
My only gripe, Mr Amazon, is when prices of books are the same or more as the hard copy. I'm well aware that the author needs paying and so do the people working their little socks off to get the book there, but you've no printing costs! What's that about?!

Still love it though! Now, anyone need ebooks reviewing?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Book Review - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

They say 'live every day as if it's your last' -- but you never actually think it's going to be. At least I didn't. The thing is, you don't get to know when it happens. You don't remember to tell your family that you love them or -- in my case -- remember to say goodbye to them at all. But what if, like me, you could live your last day over and over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have no regrets? Or are there some things you'd want to change...?

Lauren Oliver did a wonderful job with this book. Every word, sentence and paragraph was just right. If one word had been different it wouldn’t have been the novel that it is. It’s deep, thought provoking and makes you sit back and think about the decisions you make in your life.

The story starts with Samantha Kingston living the last day of her life without her realising it. She goes about her business with her popular friends like there is always going to be a tomorrow to wake up to. Then she has to keep reliving that day, changing things and seeing the consequences every one of her actions have on the people around her. Everything is linked even when she doesn’t see it.

There are snippets of Sam’s life before Lindsay takes her in to the fold of the popular groups. That was when Sam was relatable and her own person. But as a popular person, she was a sheep, doing whatever it took to keep her place at the top of the hierarchy. For me, I really couldn’t relate to her then, as I’m not one to follow the crowd. I’m too stubborn for that. I would read the moments when she knew she could make a different decision but didn’t want to be seen to be the odd one and I wanted to scream at Sam to be her own person.

Even though I couldn’t relate, it shows what an extraordinary job Lauren has done with her characters.  They’re well-rounded with flaws and reasons for their behaviour, slowly making the reason people are the way they are, even when they are deliberately cruel. Constantly testing each other just to get a reaction. And there’s her ability to describe everything perfectly and set up scenes that aren’t needed, but at the same time they are needed because we all do some things in our lives that no one sees. Like when Sam stands in front of a mirror letting the steam from her shower slowly dissipate from it and she sees herself coming into view. Those were nice touches to get a real sense of who Sam really is away from her friends.

Unfortunately, this book is a year or two too late for me to make me think about the consequences of my actions. Things have already happened that make me realise how precious life is. That doesn’t take away from the story though because we watch Sam learn all this. It’s usually at her age they really do start to realise; we’re just seeing it at a moment where she’s had to learn in the extreme.

As I grew up in the UK school system, I’ve no idea what the American school system is like, so I couldn’t help but feel that the book was a mixture of the films Mean Girls and Groundhog Day. It was really unoriginal and predictable in that sense. When Sam starts her story on the last day of her life, and we meet her friends, from then on I constantly had the ‘Queen Bees’ in mind. That’s all I could think about whenever Sam et al did something cruel or shameful. That was the only thing stopping this book going on to my favourites list and getting a full score.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

Cross-Stitching Weekend

Last week I was taken to a shop, with the husband and mother, so that my mother could buy some wool for her knitting. I've lived in this area and I had no clue about this shop...the cross-stitching, card-making and crafting stuff available is unreal! HEAVEN!

Anyhoo, I bought 3 large cross-stitch kits and 4 tiny ones.

I spent the whole of the weekend doing the little ones on and off, while catching up on some reading too. Definitely a nice weekend all round.

Book Review - Evermore by Alyson Noel

Sixteen-year-old Ever is the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her entire family. Living with her aunt in Southern California, she's plagued by the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, and haunted by the ghost of her little sister. She tries to tune everyone out, shunning her old lifestyle as the pretty, popular cheerleader, but somehow she can't hide from Damen, the new guy at school. Stunningly handsome, clever and not a little bit intimidating, there's something about him that doesn't quite add up. Ever realises he's hiding something, but nothing could prepare her for the truth - especially when the truth involves past lives, murderous enemies, everlasting love and the secret of eternal youth.

This book was predictable but it was done in a nice, comfortable way that made the entire thing a pleasure to read. I loved every word of this book and was sorry to see it end, but at least it’s just the start of a series.

It starts off with Ever quickly explaining how her ‘gift’ works and how it came about and why she keeps herself away from the popular crowd, having previously been part of the popular crowd before her parents died. The story then quickly moves to Ever’s two friends, Haven and Miles, then we meet Damen, who quickly becomes Ever’s love interest, and has some strange qualities about him.

The story follows the romance that blossoms between Ever and Damen but through one reason or another it never quite happens. This was the only frustrating and unnatural flow of the plotline. It felt like Ever kept making problems out of nothing and Damen’s response at times was childish considering how old he is. However, even with this, the story still remained a page-turner.

The characters were uniquely shaped with little tics and quirks that made them real and believable. Everything about everyone made the story feel natural even with its paranormal plotline, which is a gift in itself. It’s a job well done on Alyson Noel’s part and I look forward to delving deeper into these characters’ stories.

A refreshing read that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good paranormal romance.


Book Review - The 13 Curses by Michelle Harrison

The Thirteen Treasures have become the Thirteen Curses. When fairies stole her brother, Red vowed to get him back. Now trapped in the fairy realm, she begs an audience with the fairy court where she strikes a bargain. Her brother will be returned - but only if she can find the thirteen charms of Tanya's bracelet that have been scattered in the human world. Returning to Elvesden Manor, Red is assisted by Tanya and Fabian and a desperate hunt begins. Soon they make a shocking discovery. The charms now have twisted qualities of the thirteen treasures they represent...and the longer they are missing the worse the consequences will be. Can Red, Tanya and Fabian find all the charms? And even if they do, will the fairies keep their promise?

In this installment, The Thirteen Curses, from Michelle Harrison we follow the story of Red who we met in the first installment- The Thirteen Treasures. For me, this second installment was amazing. Even now I’m sat here trying not to gush and say, ‘I loved this book just because.’

Due to the fact that the truth had come out in the previous novel, there was more freedom to give a back-story to the characters from the beginning rather than throw it at the reader all at once near the end. It was nice to go along for the ride with Red, to experience things for the first time with her and not try and second-guess why other characters are doing or saying the things they are doing or saying. It’s one thing to have a twist in the plot but it can get too much, causing you to race through the book for the characters motives therefore not enjoying the story as much as you would. With The Thirteen Curses you can enjoy every moment, detail, and storytelling with ease. There’s never a lull in the book, there’s always something going on, with a reason behind every action.

Michelle Harrison has done a wonderful job creating this refreshing world of fairies and weaving the fairies folklore and history into a subject matter done many times before. When the stories of the some of the ‘Thirteen Treasures’ are told to Red, the reader can almost believe them because they’re been written with such amazing detail. Even the descriptions of different fairies give the reader a clear picture of how they look. It’s this detail that gives the reader a sense of believability. Your imagination can take over and you could almost be sat with Red as she tells you her adventure to get her brother back.

In all honesty, my review does not do this book justice. I’ve yet to see a review do any justice for The Thirteen Curses. I wish this book had been published when I was younger. This is a magical book that every young person should read before they grow up. Even with that thought, anyone and everyone should read this book, whether they are young or old. All I can say now is go read this book and I hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

Book Review - Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

Jordan hates her life! Her boyfriend Michael dumped her, hooked up with half the other girls in the neighbourhood, and then killed himself. And then there's the broken record of boring parties, meaningless flirting and friends she can't relate to. But now, somehow, Michael is back, appearing at her window every night, begging her to let him in. Jordan can't understand why he wants to get back together; he was the one that dumped her! But, as the weeks drag on, she feels her resistance wearing down. Instead of partying and socialising with her so-called friends, now Jordan runs home to the safety of her room before dark, and waits, alone and terrified, for the sun to go down. Creatures like Michael need to be invited in before they can cross over the threshold. All Jordan has to do is say the words...

I did and didn’t like this book. I loved that Jordan feared Michael and that he was something to be feared. It was refreshing to read a vampire story that kept a vampire as something to be feared. I didn’t love Jordan’s need to blame everything around her for what was going wrong in her life. Even with a mother who is never there for and can’t seem to love Jordan for who she is, it still angered me no end that she couldn’t seem to accept responsibility for her own actions.

The book was fairly short and had an ‘indie’ feel to the plotline. If it hadn’t been so highly recommended to me and I didn’t love supernatural stories so much, then I probably wouldn’t have even glanced at this book. (The cover was just as bland as the story.) The best part of the book was the last 50 pages when the reader finally understands what Michael’s plan is and how truly evil vampires are. The rest I found dull.

Jordan’s actions throughout the story- the drinking, partying, sleeping around, skipping school- was all very unoriginal and I felt like I’d read the whole story a thousand times. The same goes for her three friends. Rachael has an answer to everything and is easily angered. Gabby and Janine are the flaky ones who don’t really care and are just looking for a good time. All their actions and comments were predictable.

Overall the book was intensely written with a dark foreshadowing on the plot, but I would’ve enjoyed it more if Michael had revealed his actions earlier and it had been prolonged. Or maybe if Jordan had just done the obvious and had one of her friends to stay over so that they could see Michael and understand what she was going through.

The end of this book saved itself and so I’ve given it a generous rating. I would recommend it to anyone who loves how vampires are meant to be written, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it.


Book Review - Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon

If you fall too fast, you just might crash...Daisy has been dumped, unceremoniously jilted. Not by any ordinary guy, no...Daisy has a secret in her past that she won't even tell her best friend, Holly. She's given up on men - and on her own family. But life still has to be lived and where better to recover than as far away from home as possible. Grabbing a chance to see the world, Daisy packs her bags and joins the team catering to the world's highest-paid, supercharged racing drivers on the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit. From Brazil to Italy, from Melbourne to Monte Carlo, life passes in a dizzying whirlwind. But nothing - and no one - can stop Daisy from falling again...this time for a man who is prepared to risk his life, and his heart, for the sake of speed, danger and ultimate success.

Paige Toon knows how to hook a reader into her story. By the end of the first chapter I was drawn into Daisy’s story and stayed up late reading the first half of the book. I will admit the story is predictable, bar one plot twist that shocked me, but I liked that predictability of it all. It was like slipping into a comfortable pair of pyjamas and you could relax in the knowledge that you were getting into a good, warm story.

You meet Daisy as she meets Will and Luis, two Formula 1 drivers who have just been signed up with the team she ‘caters’ for. Will she falls for instantly. Luis she hates at first sight when he nearly runs her off her scooter. The story between the three characters stays at a nice steady pace and everything is described in such a manner that you’re there with Daisy. You feel her all her emotions as she tries to stop herself from falling for Will due to him having a girlfriend, and you especially feel her anger when she argues with Luis, but those were the best bits for me.

All of the characters, even the ones mingling in the background, were well rounded out, each with their own quirks that make them slightly more real. The descriptions are all innocuous yet fantastic for building the bigger picture and padding out this warm story. Everything is believable to such a degree that this story could be real. Toon’s history and research has paid off because it’s a job well done.

Daisy fell for Will but I personally fell for Luis. Such a feisty, cheeky character with hidden depths and warmth. I devoured every page he was on like reading was going out of fashion. Luis made the story for me. On the flipside, Holly, Daisy’s co-worker and best friend, her sub-plot was distracting and pointless. I thought it didn’t really serve any purpose in the story and I wasn’t interested in it, I wanted the story to get back to Daisy’s predicament with Will every time Holly’s secrets were brought up.

Paige Toon has a natural gift for writing. The story can be read with ease and enjoyment. Not one part of this story, even Holly, wasn’t a chore to read. Everything moved along fluidly and naturally, and the descriptions of Daisy’s environment and everyday activities were spot on; not too much and not too little. I would highly recommend this book.


Book Review - The Hollow by Jessica Verday

When Abby’s best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone in the town assumes that she is dead. Everyone, that is, except Abbey.

Struggling to come to terms with Kristen’s disappearance and desperately seeking some answers, Abbey finds herself drawn more and more to the mysterious- and drop-dead gorgeous- Caspian, who keeps reappearing in her life. But Caspian has secrets of his own, and when Abbey uncovers the frightening truth about him, she starts to question not only their emerging love but also her own sanity…

To start off with, I have a confession. I judge a book by its cover. I know I shouldn’t but if the cover doesn’t call out to me then I’ll just keep walking. This is why I join book clubs- they make me read books with ugly covers and fall in love with them.

When I first saw The Hollow looking so pretty in the young adult section, it took all my willpower to not race to the till with it immediately, especially as the blurb just wasn’t as seductive. Every time I went into a bookshop, I would immediately go to this book and then play the deciding game. I think in doing this I hyped the book up for myself too much.

It does a good job in drawing you in the first few chapters. It kept me interested long enough to get a third of the way through. Then the boredom hit. It was incredibly dull.

The general story, and I would say sixty per cent of it, was about everyday activities. School, homework, perfumes, eating, etc. Out of the 500+ pages Caspian appeared in about 100-150 of them. It felt like the big romance was all in Abbey’s head most of the time because when she did meet with Caspian, the spark of their romance wasn’t jumping off the page. The words used to describe the scene were lackluster and do nothing for the reader. Even the ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ doesn’t pick up the blandness.

The tagline at the bottom of the blurb says, ‘Sometimes love knows no boundaries…’ What love? There is no love in this story. There was more love in the Legend of Sleep Hollow quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The great thing about teenagers and romance is that they have these raging hormones that make it all seem more dramatic and intense. There was none of that. Not even on Abbey’s part- who is four years younger than Caspian. At sixteen years old there wasn’t even a hint of excitement that an older guy was interested in her, but then where is Caspian’s interest in Abbey? It wasn’t on the pages that I was reading.

There was also very little on Kristen and her death. That was the only interesting part of the story and it drops out of the plot right in the middle with not even a neatly tied-up goodbye note for the reader. If it wasn’t for the fact that Abbey thinks about Kristen once a chapter, then you would completely forget about the mystery brought up in the plot.

As for the end of the book- it was rushed, it was lacking and it was a big cop-out. Even with the knowledge that there will be two books to follow this one that will answer all my questions cannot excuse the bad ending. Everything that is left wide open in the plot is done in a sloppy manner. It doesn’t make the reader get excited about continuing Abbey and Caspian’s story. In fact, I will be avoiding the next two books like the plague.

However, I do have a good note for the Verday’s writing; she is fantastic at setting a scene. The town of Sleepy Hollow was vividly described. The reader could imagine everything as though they were there themselves. Unfortunately, this same ability that Verday had didn’t work on her characters because I still don’t have a clear imagine of how anyone looks. They blend in to each other.