Friday, 29 October 2010

Book Review: Nanny Returns by Nicola Kraus & Emma McLaughlin

Ten years after the fateful night when Nan was fired, she returns to New York with her husband, HH. Finally settling in to build a permanent home and get her consulting business off the ground, Nan's plans are derailed by HH's sudden desire to start a family - and her surprisingly strong resistance to the idea. Matters are further complicated by a late-night, drunken visit from a now fifteen-year-old Grayer, who's stumbled upon the nanny-cam tape Nan made on her last night in his mother's employment - and wants some answers. Racked with guilt and struggling to find a way to help Grayer and his seven-year-old brother, Stilton, through their parents' vicious divorce, Nan finds herself getting sucked into the Upper East Side world of wealth, power and dysfunction all over again. Set against the backdrop of a Manhattan economy cracking along the fault lines, The Nanny Returns plumbs the humour and heartbreak of a community who chose money over love, only to find the money evaporate - and their children ready to tell all.

You don’t necessarily need to have read the previous book The Nanny Diaries. This book stands by itself fairly well apart from a couple of references to previous events, which are easy enough to understand and figure out what happened.

Now, I didn’t really enjoy this book, but that isn’t what you think it means. Emma and Nicola are fantastic writers and I’ve loved their previous books, with The Nanny Diaries being the least fave…well, this one takes it’s place now. Nanny Returns was really easy to read, the plotline flowed easily and you really get to know the characters quickly. The reason I didn’t enjoy it was because of the story. It makes me absolutely terrified that people like Grayer, his parents and school peers actually exist. Terrifies. Me. I suppose that means Emma and Nicola did their job then.

Nan returns to New York after ten years of following HH (Harvard Hottie), her husband, round the globe with his job whilst getting her qualifications and whatnot in various countries. Not long after her return Grayer turns up on her doorstep, drunk, doesn’t really remember her, and isn’t impressed with Nan and the tape she left him when she was sacked as his nanny all those years ago.

Feeling guilty, Nan gets sucked back into the Xes’ lives because she wants to help Grayer and his little brother, Stilton, in whatever way she can. Add to that HH’s need to have children now and a new client for her business being a money school that panders to the students because mummy and daddy pay lots of money into the school, and you’ve got a complicated life for Nan. Oh yeah, and we’re at the start of the global recession.

As I said before, the story flows so easily that the reading of it was not an effort. It was the plot- the characters- that made me not enjoy it. Manhattan money people are scary, vicious human beings that shouldn’t have the privileges they have. Of course, I’m tarring them all with the same brush, I’m sure some, or maybe most are actually very nice people, but not in this book they weren’t.

If you don’t mind reading about your Average Joe trying to understand these money people while doing her thing, then this is for you. But if you’re like me and sit cringing with every page just reading the things these characters do and say, then avoid, avoid, avoid. Even saying that, I’m giving the rating that I am because the writing is fantastic and I can’t knock them for rounding out their characters so much that I hate them. Job well done on that front.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

National Novel Writing Month 2010!

I can't believe it's here already! Where has this month gone? Actually...where has the year gone?

Someone mentioned on Twitter it being nearly November and I had this moment of thinking, 'There's something about November...but what?' Then I looked at my great big to-do poster on my notice board and under November, in great big green letters, it said, 'NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!' I've no idea how it escaped me that it was looming. I've planned nothing. Luckily, I've got a couple of story ideas floating round in notebooks that I haven't used yet, so I'm gonna pick one of those and work on the plot tonight. I've never been so disorganised for it since I did my first one in 2006.

Anyway, are you taking part? Buddy me if you are...please?:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

My Week in Reading

Think of My Week in Reading like Kristi's (The Story Siren) In My Mailbox...only what you've read this week instead of what books you've received for the week. 

Guys...I've read this many books...

 Alright, you got me. I read this many books...
Still not buying it? Okay...this is what I read this week...
Well, to be more specific, I read 2 books that were rolled into one, so it's one step up from last week but no where near where I should be now! I'm just not getting out of this reading slump, even though the week started so promising. I read the first book in the bind-up in less than a day.
  Wicked: Witch & Curse (Amazon UK) by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie. Holly Cathers is cruelly ripped away from her life in San Francisco when her parents and best friend die in a tragic accident, and the woman she was meant to live with inexplicably takes ill. She is off to live with the aunt her father hadn't spoken to in years and her two daughters (husband is there too...just). Strange things start to happen with her family history racing into the forefront of everything.
 As well as Nanny Returns, I shall get reviews for them up here this week as things around me settle a bit more.
So readers, what have you been reading this week?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

'Waiting On' Wednesday: Out For Blood

'Waiting On' Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Totally jumping on the bandwagon with this event. (Image Source)

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey

- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
- Release Date: 1st November 2010 summary:

Hunter Wild just wants to get through her last year at the secret Helios-Ra Academy. To do so, she'll have to betray her grandfather, date a vampire and possibly take down the entire League - all before the end of term. 

 Loved the first two books, My Love Lies Bleeding and Blood Feud more than I thought I would. I find the lineage of Vampires intriguing and that they can be born and turn at a certain age is something that I'm loving 100%. At least I don't have long left to wait to see what happens next.

Monday, 18 October 2010

My Week in Reading

Okay, think of My Week in Reading like Kristi's (The Story Siren) In My Mailbox...only what I've read this week instead of what books I've received for the week. It's all to do with that bloody personal challenge I've set myself and helping me to keep track on how I'm doing.

I'm doing it like this to help me build up my blog a little bit more on the book side of things and because Kristi is my book blogger idol, so I look to her blog for my little bits of inspiration on what to do with this blog.

 Anyway, my reading this week has been poor. Would you believe it- I'm in a reading slump. Either that or the book I read wasn't that great, which I suspect it really wasn't.

My one read this week was Nanny Returns (Amazon) by Nicola Kraus & Emma McLaughlin. It's ten years on from The Nanny Diaries (Amazon) and Grayer is back in Nan's life, bringing his little brother, Stilton with him. Add the politics of upper class Manhattan, the recession and Nan's husband wanting to start a family and you've got some very stressful times ahead for Nan.

I'll pop my review up at some point this week and hopefully have a better reading week coming up.

On another note before I wrap this post up, I've had a nosey round and can't find any other blogs that do their week of reading. I know there's the reviews and In My Mailbox, but I want to know what you're reading! Let me know...I'm nosey like that.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

It's Time...

 When I was little, from about the age of 5 years onwards, I had hair down to my waist. (See picture to your right. I was nearly 6 and playing golf in Spain.) My parents loved it a, I lie- a lot more than me...I think they forgot it was me that had to live with it 24 hours a day, and wouldn't let me cut it unless it was a trim of the split ends.

 Then I turned 15 and 10 years of begging, pleading- literally on my knees- clinging on to my mother's hand asking her to get my hair cut finally paid off. I took her, 'I give in, do what you want' as a yes, grabbed my sister and raced to the hairdresser's. One hour later and I was swishing my shoulder-length hair with the best of them...but still wished it could be shorter. Like pixie-cut short.

The closest I got to a pixie cut was a long bob when I was 17 (naturally my mother hated it because it was so short) and I realised that even though I wanted to go shorter, I couldn't bear the embarrassment if it looked ridiculous on me and the people I worked with would ridicule me. So, I promised myself that if I ever got the chance to work from home and not see my co-workers every day, then I would do it.

It would appear that day has come. I finally got the job working from home and the promise to myself was shouting out to me loud and clear when I spotted Ginnifer Goodwin looking absolutely adorable with a pixie cut on the cover of Instyle. (Let's not mention Emma Watson at this point because I feel she looks like a boy and the cut does nothing for her.)

I'm giving myself the weekend to mull this position over, but chances are, my hair will be as short as Ginnifer's (see pic to your left) in less than a couple of weeks...should my hairdresser be able to fit me in.

I'm rather excited about it now. It's only another 10 years on from that original major cut!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Book Review - Della Says OMG by Keris Stainton

Della’s over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party – but then she discovers her diary has disappeared...
When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della’s distraught – how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?

This is the first book I have completely enjoyed for a very long time. Every page was a joy to read and I couldn’t really fault the book other than it was probably a bit young for me, but hey…I’m a female Peter Pan! I’m never growing up! In all seriousness though, this book was just what I needed to get out of my reading slump. Just a nice normal read with no paranormal beings falling in love with us humans.

Della is your normal sixteen-year-old girl with all those thoughts, worries and doubts girls her age have. Then the boy she has fancied all her school life comes to her sister’s going away party and takes an interest in her. The story centres around their developing relationship, with a sub-plot of Della’s diary going missing and trying to figure out who has it when they start sending her pages or quotes from it.

See, nothing complicated about the story. It was a breath of fresh-air. The writing flowed nicely. Nothing seemed forced. The characters were believable. What I loved most about the characters was the love and support of each other. Sometimes families and friends are there for each other just because they can be. No need for sullenness and ‘get out of my life’ drama from Della only for her to realise at the end they were only trying to help her. She knew from the beginning, which made the story even more lovely and warm.

I do have one gripe about the book; it needed more about the diary. That’s all. So I’m giving it full marks. I know it wasn’t the most intelligent, thought-provoking books I’ve read, but as I said before, this book wasn’t aimed at people my age, and Keris Stainton thoroughly entertained me with this story of Della.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Book Review - Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

This book definitely left an impression on me. It starts off with Isobel and Varen being forced into a pairing for an English project and their disdain for each other completely rolls off the page. Then the attraction for each other slowly comes into it, much to Isobel’s friends’ horror, and the boyfriend isn’t too happy about her spending time with him either. Then strange things start to happen around Varen and Isobel is getting caught up in it too, all with Edgar Allan Poe being linked to it all somehow. It can’t be a coincidence that Varen picked Poe for their project…can it?

I absolutely adored this book and the way Kelly Creagh wove the elements of Poe and his mysterious death into the plot (I’ll definitely be making more of an effort to read his works now more than ever). All the events, conversations, arguments, thoughts flowed so effortlessly and the characters were all well-rounded and realistic. The hint of supernatural goings-on was just right…until the last third of the book, then I got a little bit lost and wasn’t enjoying the book as much for about 50 pages. It just didn’t fit with how the book was going. That was my only issue with the story.

I fell in love with the way Kelly took Poe’s death and the mystery around it, and she ran with it. The whole story worked and you could almost imagine this was why Poe died the way he did. Having never read Poe’s works, I did get a little bit lost with that part of the book, but it wasn’t an issue. Kelly definitely helps by adding some facts about Poe throughout the book when they’re doing the project. If anything, it gets me intrigued to really sit down and learn about Poe. It’s a pity he wasn’t on my school curriculum…or my university module of American literature; go figure.

I know I could write so much more about this book, like some of my peeves, but my gist is this: I adore this book. 

Nevermore isn’t getting full rating only because of that small bit in the book where it goes from being about this strong attraction to all-out paranormal happenings that I couldn’t follow completely. It lost the chemistry between the characters a little bit. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series and I cannot wait for the next book! I shall just have to catch up on my Edgar Allan Poe while I do wait.


Monday, 11 October 2010

The Start of the Epic Book Reading Challenge.

Image source
Today (11th Oct '10) I started my personal reading challenge of 365 books in 365 days. I say started loosely. I'm only a few chapters in my first book. Got a few things going on that are playing on my mind, so reading wasn't a go today. Concentrating on the plot while my head is going ten-to-the-dozen about stuff just wasn't fun.

So. Not a great start, but I think I can catch up this week. My plan is to just update every week with where I'm at rather than bombarded this blog with, 'Yay. Finished a book- praise me for it!' But most of them will probably be reviewed, so you might just get that.

Off I go.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Setting a Personal Reading Challenge

After having a a small conversation with Michelle Harrison on Twitter about To Be Read Books/Piles, I realised that I had no idea exactly how many books I'd accumulated and not read yet. I just knew that they'd been gathered up in my office and the pile wasn't going down.

 I decided the other night to haul the lot of them out of my office and on to the hallway upstairs and see how ridiculous it all looked. I didn't know whether to dance with glee or hang my head in shame at having so many to read. Even the cat took one look at them, threw a dirty look and trotted into my office in disgust.

Anyway, some show and tell. Here's my To Read Pile...

 ...of the books that I've borrowed from a friend. You were thinking, 'Is that it?' Weren't you? Well, 20+ books from a friend is enough to be getting on with as it would think? I'm not even going to think about how many books she has unread too.

Okay...*drumroll* is my sickeningly large pile of unread books (no, I can't show you my read books. They're gathered in the far corners of the house praying for someone to rescue them and be read again)!

 Isn't that just the most obscene thing you've ever seen?! I think I need an intervention. Or find a husband that isn't such an enabler. He's got many books unread too!

Once I saw them all laid out like that, I realised just how much I needed to get a move on with reading them. So, here's my personal challenge *takes a breath*...

In that obscene pile is 354 books. If you add my friend's books too, my To Be Read Pile comes to 392. And then there's my Kindle and the books on there...well, you get the point.

 My personal challenge is this: 365 books in 365 days *wince*.

 That's a book a day. Well, in theory anyway. You, me, the husband, and the four cats know I won't do a book a day. However, my plan is this: no life for me. Just kidding. Kinda.

My real plan is this: no reading drought from May to September this year. Year in, year out I read about 60-70 books, but for some reason, I just can't seem to read in between those months. I might get 2 books read if that. That should bump up the amount I read quite dramatically. Then there's the odd trips to London when I'd usually fall asleep with my mouth wide open, drooling ungracefully, and waking up suddenly with the grunt of coffee stop to husband. (Woes is him for being the only one of the two of us who can drive!)

Also, I've spent many a day this past year wasting away before Facebook and their addictive games. Then there's work, which I can't avoid until I'm a big selling author, so I'll have to read around it. I'd say my many other hobbies might called to be done, but let me be honest here; I've an addictive personality and those Facebook games totally own me at the moment. My cross-stitching, card making, jigsaw puzzling and film watching have all gone by the wayside because of those pesky pixels called crops. Woe betide anyone if my crops wither! But not anymore! For I have my challenge to complete! And complete it I will...try my hardest!

 Back to the matter at hand- I'm going to start my challenge on Monday 11th October. That gives me the weekend to read my library books and another book I have on the go. (We'll just ignore the 15 other books I"m currently reading too as they're on shelves and not in that pile.) It gives me some time to really organise myself and see what sort of tactic I want to take on this.

I figured that if I actually blogged about this then I'm more likely to work at getting these lovely books read. Otherwise I'd have the half-hearted attempt at keeping note of my challenge on the notice board and by the time new year rolled round I'd have forgotten all about it. Now that it's out there for the world to see about it, I'm more like to try and reach my goal! Especially when the plan is to blog every week where I'm up to.

Anyhoo...wish me luck, hate me, laugh at me...or join me...what say you?