2017 Mini Blog Ahead #1 (March 1 – 15)

Posted 25th February 2017 by Wattle in Challenges / 8 Comments

Hosted by Anna @ Herding Cats & Burning Soup (via The Herd Presents), this challenge is all about getting ahead in your blogging by upping your number of scheduled posts by 15 during the challenge.

This is great prep for vacations, emergencies, and just helping get through blogging slumps or busy weeks. Having posts ready to go can be a huge relief! Stop last minute blogging in its tracks and join in! Sign up HERE!

I always fail at the Blog Ahead challenges haha but this is a mini one, less chance to fail! There’s another mini challenge scheduled for the second half of June and the main one that runs for all of October. I will of course be taking part in all three, since I need all the motivation I can get!

So come the end the middle of March I hope to have 15 posts scheduled for the rest of the month and into April. We’ll see how it goes.

Tags:


Life Happens #2

Posted 20th February 2017 by Wattle in Life Happens / 14 Comments

I have a list of reviews to write, and the notes to write them; but I’ve not quite got there yet. Oops! There is a Blog Ahead challenge coming up I believe and I will be taking part (once I get that post up haha!)

Things have been busy in my world. I’m not entirely sure where the last month has gone.

I finally got myself out of the public system when it comes to my kidneys (I love Australia’s public healthcare system; but since I can afford to not be in it, I’d rather go private – it frees up space for someone else), and was told entirely different things by my new specialist compared to the old. I don’t have a serious condition; it’s something that may eventually lead to one though. He’s taken me off half my medications (not necessarily a bad thing) and we’ll revisit everything later this year. I am cautiously optimistic.

Last week I had another skin cancer removed. Getting a bit sick of those, but there’s nothing I can do about it (they’re not caused directly by sun exposure, but by a medication I’m on). It wasn’t on my face this time, so that’s a win 🙂

University starts again very soon. I went in today to sort out some parking and get my ID revalidated and it was a madhouse! Students eeeeverywhere! I usually study externally but I have to go in a few times each semester – this coming semester I’m studying one unit on campus; I’m not really looking forward to it but I have to do it!

Aside from that, I’ve been reading – slowly. I’m hoping to finish at least one more book before the end of the month. I’ll be spending some time on public transport later this week, which will give me some extra time to read.

I hope everyone is having a lovely February!

Tags: ,


Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Posted 12th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison BlissSize Matters by Alison Bliss
Series: A Perfect Fit #1
Published by Forever on November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 337
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars
Heat Level: 2.5 Flames

The rules of (fake) engagement . . .
Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. I absolutely hated parts of it, and other parts were really funny? And it was a bit…frustrating. There’s a few spoiler cuts in this review:

Let’s start at the beginning. Size Matters starts out badly – Leah is so focused on her size it made me uncomfortable, and her drowning her self pity in alcohol made me angry. I know it happens, we all have our insecurities, but her self esteem issues are very triggery and generally unpleasant to read.

My main issue with the book were the characters (ALL OF THEM). Sam’s inner monologue (where every sentence starts with “Hell…” I don’t care about the word itself, but it was so repetitive! “Damn” was used a lot too) did not help, going on about how he liked a woman with something to hang on to – I became worried this would slide into the ‘fetish’ zone (it didn’t, thankfully).

And then there was the fact that View Spoiler »

Leah’s mother View Spoiler » *shudders* if my mother was like that, I would disown her or at the very least spend as little time in her presence as possible. Leah herself just sucks it up and goes along with it (self esteem issues) which was endlessly frustrating. View Spoiler »

There were some laugh out loud funny moments, and then the negativity ramps up all over again. Sam is such a dick (and in a weird type of denial) and Leah isn’t any better. All this really boils down to is that neither of them can communicate, they are both stubborn and they’re not really likeable apart or together.

Leah needs to grow a backbone, and Sam needs to use his words. And her mother needs to butt out. The plot was completely ridiculous, I feel like it could have been executed much better (a fake fiancé story could be so fun!) but the mass of misunderstandings that took place just drew it out to the point of disbelief.

The one upside of this book is that it was written really, really well, and some of it was hilarious, but overall it just wasn’t for me because of the characters and their choices.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
half-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.1

Tags: , , ,


Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Posted 6th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #5: Good Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanGood Omens (BBC 4 Radio Dramatisation) by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Full Cast
Published by BBC Worldwide on December 22nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Humour
Length: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars

A full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s apocalyptic comic novel.

According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday in fact. Just after Any Answers on Radio 4….

Events have been set in motion to bring about the End of Days. The armies of Good and Evil are gathering and making their way towards the sleepy English village of Lower Tadfield. The Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse - War, Famine, Pollution and Death - are assembling.

Witchfinder Shadwell and his assistant Newton Pulsifier are also en route to Tadfield to investigate unusual phenomena in the area, while Anathema Device, descendent of prophetess Agnes Nutter, tries to decipher her ancestor’s cryptic predictions.

Atlantis is rising; fish are falling from the sky; everything seems to be going to the Divine Plan.

Everything, that is, but for an unlikely angel and demon duo, who have been living on Earth for several millennia and have become rather fond of the place. If they are to prevent Armageddon they’ve got to find and kill the one who will bring it about: the Antichrist himself. There’s just one small problem: someone seems to have mislaid him…

Adapted, sound designed and co-directed by Dirk Maggs (Neverwhere, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) this first ever dramatisation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel features a large cast including Peter Serafinowicz, Mark Heap, Josie Lawrence and Paterson Joseph.

I was at work a couple of Fridays ago, and as the Thursday beforehand was a public holiday there was next to no one in. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to pop my headphones in and listen to something, but I didn’t want to start a long audiobook. Then I came across this version of Good Omens (which I’m counting as a book, because it’s pretty much an abridged version) and thought ‘yes! That will do!’

It’s only 4 hours and 20 minutes long, I had to take a couple of breaks when I needed to concentrate on something important but I listened to it all that day 🙂

I giggled a fair bit during this: “Earth is a Libra”, I mean…come on!
 
The radio adaptation is a condensed version of the story and it just works so well. The sound effects and different voice actors are just so great. I wish actual audiobooks were done like this (I think some do exist?) it would make it easier for me to listen to – I’m struggling with audio at the moment.

As always, it’s all about Crowley for me. He’s my standout character, a demon who doesn’t really want the apocalypse to happen as he’s quite fond of Earth. He and Aziraphale (an angel with a similar outlook) do have a lot in common, even if they are on opposite ‘sides’. What their superiors don’t know, won’t hurt them 😉 There’s a mix-up with the antichrist, witches, witchfinders (hunters, if you will), and the four horsemen (or…persons). What’s not to like?
 
A great, though also very short listen, it was absolutely worth the time and energy spent. It actually made me fire up the proper audiobook of Good Omens, which is my favourite book of all time. When I’m done with that, I’ll probably re-read it again.

Seriously. Favourite. Book. Ever.

AND a tv show (written by Mr Gaiman) has been announced. Woohoo!

Rating Report
Plot
five-stars
Characters
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Performance
five-stars
Quality
five-stars
Enjoyability
five-stars
Overall: 5

Tags: , , , ,


Monthly Overview #1: January 2017

Posted 1st February 2017 by Wattle in Monthly Overview / 8 Comments

This year I’ve started using a spreadsheet created by All About Books to track how many books I’ve bought/received/read and I thought that would be a good monthly post, because seeing those numbers just before I wrote this made me go ‘oh god…’ lol

January 2017
Books Bought: 21
NetGalley: 3
Freebies: 15
Total: 39

Books bought also includes freebies on Amazon, because I one-clicked, it’s like I purchased them. The spreadsheet has a ‘gifted’ source which I’m using to track freebies from author newsletters and sites.

Of the books I bought:

6 of them were freebies

15 were ones I purchased
– 4 of those were ebooks
– 9 were paperback
– 2 were cookbooks

Ah cookbooks, blew my budget out of the water. Oops. The spreadsheet is great for tracking how much I’ve spent (even if the figure did make my eyes water, thank goodness for people that bought me book vouchers for Christmas!)

Stores I bought from were Booktopia, Book Depository, Wordery and a local 2nd hand store. Amazon US for my ebooks.

Books I Read:

In January I read 6 books (and 2 short stories; I’ve not decided how I’m tracking those yet, since they’re in actual books but are being read out of order).

5 were regular books, 1 was an audiobook (actually it was a radio dramatisation!)

All 6 were adult books 😮

1933 pages read, 259 minutes listened

Not a huge amount (I don’t read as fast as I used to) but certainly more than I thought I’d get through 🙂

Tags:


Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest

Posted 31st January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. NuestDirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest
Series: Likely Story #1
Published by Lyrical Underground on January 31st 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 285
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3.5 Flames

An Eye for an Eye
As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game
Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

Today is my stop during the blog tour for Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest. This tour is being run by Love Reading Romance Tours, check out the tour page for more reviews!

I had one significant issue with this book. I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way first – because really, I don’t want to be a downer, but…

I don’t like it when characters immediately objectify each other, like their looks are the only thing of interest about them. I can understand thinking someone is hot, but to imagine sexual activity within 5 seconds? Nope (or is this just me?) This book has instalust, that turns into instalove.

Turns out I don’t dig it; I just cannot buy it as part of reality *sigh*

Now on to the good stuff.

The premise? Super interesting. The thing I liked best about this was the plot. Also, I loved Eden as a character (and Kelly wasn’t so bad either, but Eden is where it’s at), she was independent and didn’t often do as she was told – I like a rebel. I felt the other characters were a bit hit or miss, and they definitely faded into the background (I couldn’t tell you most of their names) but since this story isn’t about them, that’s okay.

I did have a bit of a lull around 60%, to 65%. The pacing sort of fell away, everything was rushing at breakneck speed and then I hit a bump. But the last 35% of the book was great and really held my interest, it was a bit stressy, although that ending – I’m not sure if what happened is possible, I guess maybe? I’m not keen to conduct an experiment to find out haha.

The writing was excellent, even if the pacing was a bit much for me. I would have liked a bit more background on Kelly and Eden to be honest, we did get bits and pieces about them but I didn’t feel like I knew them very well (although in the case of Eden, that is probably the point).

All in all it was a fun read, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Nuest’s work in the future!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.5

About A.J. Nuest

Multi-published, award-winning author and editor AJ Nuest resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children, and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was awarded the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by InD’tale Magazine, and her spin-off series, The Golden Key Legacy, was chosen as a Must Read Romance by USA Today’s Happy Ever After. Her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs, won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. For more please visit her at ajnuest.com

Tags: , ,


Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. Harroway

Posted 28th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. HarrowayEntwined by J.C. Harroway
Series: Recovery Series #2
Published by Escape Publishing on January 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 200
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3 Flames

Your true family is the one you choose...

When nurse Jess Bellamy returns to her hometown for a cousin’s wedding, she hopes to completely avoid her ex and first love, Morgan Price. But Morgan is the best man, and the groom’s best friend, so try as she might, Jess can’t avoid him. Teenage Morgan, she got over. Grown up Morgan is infinitely hotter, infinitely more successful, and infinitely harder to ignore.

When they re-kindle the explosive physical connection between them, Jess hopes they've burned it out of their systems. She left everything behind five years ago after her father’s funeral, including Morgan, and she's leaving again in two days. She had good reasons for going, and good reasons for staying away.

But as Morgan and Jess explore their searing passion during that lost weekend, Jess is tempted by what might have been and haunted by the ghosts of what was. She has two days to decide whether to keep her secrets or keep the only man she's ever loved.

I read this on the afternoon that I downloaded it from NetGalley (it’s beside the point I have hundreds of other books to read, right?) it was very well written, and given it’s fairly short was a quick read. Perfect for a rainy day (or a hot afternoon, when moving is difficult).

Entwined by J.C. Harroway is a second chance romance, which, it turns out, I enjoy a whole lot more than instalove/lust. Phew! I liked the connection between Jess and Morgan, their past history was a bit messy and it was mostly believable to me (because humans are weird). They are both stubborn and unwilling to share their secrets after being apart for 5 years, which makes for some tension.

There’s some weird family dynamics going on which made the plot fall over a little bit. I just couldn’t wrap my head around Jess trusting someone during a stressful time (which is to do with why she was gone from her hometown for so long), a person she does not have a healthy relationship with. Nor did I get the blame that was shoved in her direction for past events that were not her fault. It gave an easy ‘villain’ though I suppose.

This book does use my least favourite trope EVER, and I saw it coming from a mile away. It was a bit of a downer and affected the ending for me, which was a pity; but I enjoyed it up until then. Although I must admit, Jess’s ‘wailing’ with pleasure made me giggle each time, because I associate wailing with grief/despair/crying, so the use of that word was a bit strange to me lol

All in all, this was a well written quick read, though the plot had a few faults. I’ll definitely be checking out more of J.C. Harroway’s work in the future – I have the first book of the series on my kindle to read since I opted to read them out of order; but as far as I can tell they work just fine as standalone novels 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 3.6

Tags: , , ,


Life Happens #1

Posted 15th January 2017 by Wattle in Life Happens / 12 Comments

I know I should blog more than once a week, it’s not like I don’t have a backlog of posts and reviews to write, but I’m struggling with motivation at the moment.

Our weather has been so up and down the past couple of weeks, and I get headaches when there’s extreme changes in temperature; the one I’ve got now I’ve had all week. Woe is me, etc, etc. It’s nothing new and I can function perfectly fine for the most part, they just make me grumpy when they last more than a couple of days.

I absolutely loathe summer, but I’m looking forward to it settling in so my head doesn’t hurt anymore.

Anyway. There is nothing else going on in my life right now! Uni is on summer break, which is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve been so bored with nothing to do; or more accurately, nothing to urge me to procrastinate. I’ve been reading a lot, I read a book today that’s due for review but I’m going to sit on it a couple of days so my review isn’t so…bias, I guess.

Does anyone else have that issue? I find if I review a book mere hours after finishing it, I can get swept up in a gleeful haze and don’t really think about what I’ve read properly. I need to digest a book, think about it for a day or two before I trust myself. Particularly if I really loved something, you should see my notes for A Discovery of Witches that I finished just after New Year, my giddiness really comes across lol.

Speaking of, I’m hoping the sequels arrive this week so I can continue the series, I’m getting a bit impatient now. The book I’m trying to read (The Alienist) feels like a slog, because I’d rather be reading about witches and vampires – I’m thinking I might put it aside until I’ve got the All Souls Trilogy out of my system, The Alienist really IS good so far, but my heart isn’t in it.

I think that’s enough of my blabbing for now! I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Tags: ,


Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox

Posted 6th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 15 Comments

Book Review #2: Under the Paw – Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom CoxUnder the Paw - Confessions of a Cat Man by Tom Cox
Published by Simon & Schuster on January 30th 2014 (first published January 1st 2008)
Genres: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Booktopia
Rating: four-stars

For years, Tom Cox might have seemed like a regular, hard-living sort of bloke -- a lover of late nights, rock music and beer -- but he had a dark furry secret. Tom was a cat lover. Always had been, in fact. For a while, he kept his passion in check, but there was only so long he could postpone his true dream, especially after he met Dee, his moggy-loving soulmate.

In 2001, Tom left London and his job as a rock critic behind, and he and Dee, replete with Dee's cat Janet and three new kittens, moved to a remote part of Norfolk, a county where they knew not one living human soul. They thought it would be easy. They thought their cat madness had reached its limit. They were very wrong on both counts.

In UNDER THE PAW, Tom records the chaos of owning seven of the most charismatic, idiotic and duplicitous cats in the country. How exactly does a person go from living a fancy-free young metropolitan life to suddenly thinking it is normal to be on 24-hour call for multiple sets of whiskers? What are the essential rules of disposing of a dead pheasant? How do you learn to love your wife's ex's favourite pet?

Tom addresses all these issues and much more, encountering death, depression, flying fur and the first human sentence spoken by a feline along the way. Running through all the maelstrom is the heartbreaking story of his long and chequered relationship with The Bear, his oldest cat: a "painfully sensitive" survivor moggy who may or may not be an evil genius.

I don’t read memoirs very often. In fact, I just learned the difference between a memoir (about one part of the author’s life) and an autobiography (a chronicle of the author’s entire life)! I do love reading them on occasion – and I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of the memoir in a way; as a personal challenge I want to read at least 5 of them (I read this one last year, so it doesn’t count).

Under The Paw is the first of Tom Cox’s books about his cats. He has a great writing style, when I do read memoirs or autobiographies some suffer from terrible writing (and I’m so glad many are ghost written, I’d hate to think what they’d be like without a ‘proper’ author!) But Cox has made his living from writing; and it reads really well. Like he’s telling you a story, it flows like a good conversation.

The cats are what this books is about, and The Bear is the star (sadly he passed away recently, at the grand age of 21). I have no doubt The Bear would very much go for world domination, and he’d be a mysterious and aloof leader.

The other felines – Janet, Shipley, Ralph, Pablo and Bootsy – all have their moments. Janet was probably my favourite, allegedly being the one with the least brains. As a cat person, I do enjoy reading about other cats and their antics; they are such little balls of personality!

The one thing I did not like was the pushing of an outdoors lifestyle for ALL cats. It felt a bit arrogant, like he was saying, ‘the way I treat my cats is better than yours’.

My cats are indoor cats, mainly for their safety (I don’t trust my neighbours). They also show zero to little interest in getting outdoors (they do like bird tv at the front window, and they have grass to munch on). We discussed it with our vet before deciding to restrict their environment; so outdoors isn’t for all cats and their human slaves.

However, I did love reading about the lives of these kitties and will definitely continue with the books that follow.

If you’re interested about Tom and/or his cats, you can check out his site here.

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Cover
four-half-stars
Overall: 4.1

Tags: , , ,


2017 Reading Challenges

Posted 1st January 2017 by Wattle in Books / 16 Comments

I’m so excited for my challenges this year! I didn’t want to sign up for too many, but I…might have added an extra couple I just couldn’t resist haha.

Over at Goodreads I’ve only committed to 52 books for the year (1 a week), but if I complete all my challenges, with any luck I should go beyond that.

2017 Paranormal Reading Challenge

2017 Paranormal Reading Challenge

Host: Whole Latte Books
My Summary Post
Progress: 0/12 (0%)
1 January, 2017 — 31 December, 2017
Failed

Hosted by Whole Latte Books, a challenge for books that have supernatural beings or elements but are set in our world. This includes vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, ghosts, witches, wizards, psychic powers, magic, fairies, mermaids, angels, gods, etc.

Tags: