Book Review: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice!

Today’s book review is for one of my favourite books I’ve read in the past year, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice. I started this book for the #CrushYourTBR Readathon and I talked about it a little in my TBR pile post then raved about it in my round up post after the readathon ended. I love it and here is why…

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice book

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice is being republished after ten years with a new foreward by Miranda Hart, whom I love and who loves this book about as much as I do. It’s set in the 1950’s and we follow an 18 year old girl making a new friend and finding her life tipped off-kilter. The story is based in an amazing time in history; Post-War England with America just becoming popular and the beginning of so many technological advancements and the 50’s music revolution.

It’s a slow paced book, but by no means is that an insult. I just wanted to savour it so probably not the best pick for a readathon. I’m so pleased I picked this book off the shelf though, Miranda Hart was right with her quote on the cover, I really love it.

This writing is extraordinarily beautiful, but is always very clear and doesn’t use over-the-top language or anything like that which is common in historical fiction. Really the word that springs to mind is… Enchanting. Utterly enchanting. I’m already aching to re-read this book, but my TBR is pulling me away. One day!

On top of all that, the characters are just so real. The main character, Penelope is in love with the musician Johnny Ray while also working on her degree and worrying about her mother. She becomes best friends with a very extroverted girl who has a cousin in love with his ex-girlfriend and everyone is just so multi-dimensional. There are no background one-dimentional characters like other books and it just makes the book feel so great quality.

The new edition also comes with a prequel story; The Moth Trap. It goes back to a time mentioned in the book and tells the story first hand. This was a really lovely addition that really rounded off the book for me and put another perspective into the mix that was really different and refreshing. If I had an old edition of the book, I’d buy a new one just for that.

In conclusion, I am completely in love with this book, the characters, the writing and everything about it. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. You can buy the book here!

She was utterly familiar to me, like a character from my favourite book come to life.

Have you read The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets? What did you think?

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5 Things I do for Self Care!

Today’s 5 Things are 5 things I personally do when I’m in need for a little self care. Self care is things you do to really look after yourself and your physical and mental health. It’s particularly important for people with health problems that maybe need that extra boost. I’m not an expert, these are just 5 things I do to make my days a little brighter and easier.

5 Things I do for Self Care, a picture of flowers, fruit and a book
1. Retreat.
When I start to feel really overwhelmed I tend to take a step back and look at what is making me feel this way. Degree work, blog stuff, clutter, feeling poorly, lots of things can contribute to me feeling stressed and retreating just helps me see it in a neutral way, take a deep breath and break it down into little manageable pieces in my mind or on my to-do list before I jump back in.  
2. Reading.
Despite being basically a book blog at this point, reading is actually kind of difficult for me. Concentrating on one thing is something I have to really work on but I find reading so relaxing once I hit my groove. Reading can take me away from how I’m feeling and put me in another world for a few minutes/hours. It helps me sleep better and can be super refreshing and comforting depending on your book of choice.
3. Laundry.
Hear me out on this one. I loathe laundry and it piles up to the point where I’m wearing teeshirts I declaring ‘My party was a Blast at Laser Quest’ because I have nothing else. But if I do my laundry, it’s not piling up anymore and I can wear my favourite and comfiest clothes. Sometimes self care needs to be things that aren’t necessarily the funnest while you’re doing them, but have benefits in the long run. Leading on to…
4. Therapy.
Personally I find my CBT therapy really difficult whenever I go but the pay-off is huge and I always leave feeling lighter. Obviously this is depending on if you have good health insurance or a national health service but there are also lots of free resources online. The Samaritans are always available and Lauren has a great post about her experience. 
5. Eat Well.
I don’t pretend to know much about nutrition. I think a lot of it is common sense and treating yourself once in a while, but when I feel rubbish- that second bar of chocolate seems a heck of a lot more tempting than cooking. Eating good things and treating your body to the right stuff can make a world of difference though, even if it’s just making small switches like fruit instead of chocolate or kale chips instead of crisps.

What do you do for Self Care?
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10 Books I want to Read this Summer!

Summer is a great time to get your reading time in. When the sun is out and glaring on your phone or laptop screen, a book can be used as multi-purpose entertainment and shade. I’ve talked about Summer reading before here and these are the 10 books I’m hoping to get through this season, even with a big deadline at the beginning of August.

Pile of books including Club Dead by Charlaine Harris, TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews, Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash, Kitty Raises Hell, Kitty

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
I started re-reading the Sookie Stackhouse series in April and I really enjoy them. I think Club Dead was the last one I read when I originally read the series so I’m excited to catch up to where I was so the books I read from then on are first reads.

TimeBomb by Scott K. Andrews*
I don’t know much about this book apart from that it’s the first book in a new time travel YA trilogy and I’m really excited to find out more. I haven’t read any time travel books in ages, at least not while I’ve been book reviewing. They’re difficult to get right but this has been getting some great feedback. Fingers crossed.

Witches Protection Program by Michael Phillip Cash*
The first thing that stood out to me immediately when it came to this book was the title. It’s just so clever and got me super excited. The protagonist of this story is assigned to the Witches Protection Program and has to deal with a cosmetics companies plan to use witchcraft. Witches? Makeup? I’m in. And the cover? Awesome.

Kitty Raises HellKitty’s House of Horrors and Kitty goes to War by Carrie Vaughn
I started reading the Kitty Norville books last year and I do really like them but I haven’t reached for one in a while. I’m hoping to jump back into the series and continue with the sixth, seventh and eight book.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
I read the first book in the Mistborn trilogy, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, in January and really loved it. I put off buying the second book for a while because I couldn’t find it anywhere but in the end I stumbled upon it in Waterstones and I’m really looking forward to diving back into the world.

Age, Sex, Location by Melissa Pimentel**
Every Summer reading list needs a romance novel in my opinion and this is my choice. Lauren isn’t after a serious relationship, she wants to have fun, so each month she decides to follow the advice of a different dating guide. This sounds hilarious and I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s been on my shelf for a while just waiting for Summer.

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan**
I’ve been loving cosy crime lately, and I just finished the Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris so I was looking out for something new when I won this book from Goodreads! It isn’t being published until August 13th so hopefully I can read it and get my thoughts up on the blog so you know if it’s worth a look into!

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley*
Another book that isn’t published yet, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is coming out July 2nd. This is a debut novel set in Victorian London and civil-war Japan and I think it sounds really good. Literary fantasy isn’t something I’ve read a lot of but I like the idea of reading a fantasy book that isn’t an epic.

So this Summer I’m starting two new series, continuing three and just hoping to get through these ten books while also finishing a bunch of work. Wish me luck!

What do you plan to read this Summer? 
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Beauty Review: Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red

So it’s been a while since I did a beauty review, huh? I’ve been wanting to get back into them and thought I’d dive in with a review of the Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red. These have been knocking around my place for a while but it’s been a long time since my nails were short enough for me to need them! Alas, I had a mishap with a pile of books.

Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red box

This set came with 24 nails in ten sizes, the adhesive tabs and a buffer. They were the short style in red.

Back of the Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red box
Instructions for the Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red

The instructions were simple enough! Pick out all the false nails to match the size of your own, buff (I always skip this step for the health of my nails), stick on the adhesive tabs and remove the backing plastic, apply the nails then rub them for five minutes to make them stick. To get them off, wiggle and pull. Simple!

adhesive tabs for the Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red

The adhesive tabs were a bit of a pain. They didn’t really fit my nails and they were quite thick but easy enough to apply. I did have to cut some down to size though. I feel this step took the longest time and could’ve been easier.

Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red on the nails

And this is what they look like on! They’re actually not too bad, they fit pretty well with just a little gap at the sides sometimes and even though the adhesive tabs are thick- they are close enough to the nail that things don’t get underneath them. Except for hair. Putting my hair up with these is a pain. Basically, all the problems I had with the imPress press-on manicure were okay with these except the hair thing.

Rubbish of the Elegant Touch Polished False Nails in Red
And there is quite a bit of mess at the end! 
Have you ever tried these nails? What did you think?
*I was given these at an event. I am not obligated to talk about them.

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The ‘I Went for One Thing’ Book Haul!

A couple weeks ago I went to see Jeffery Deaver speak at Waterstones in Manchester, which I posted about here, and decided to have a bit of a wander around afterwards. Big mistake. I had recently handed in an assignment that had been kicking my butt and while I was in the mindset of ‘I deserve a treat’, I think I over treated…

Pile of books including Brave New World by Adoldus Huxley, Dead Over Heels and A Fool and his Honey by Charlaine Harris, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, Half Bad by Sally Green, The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson and Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver

The first book I picked up was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This has been on my radar for a long time after reading about it on Reddit. A futuristic tale set in London 2540AD, and it was just lay there with it’s pretty 3D cover when I walked towards crime. It was a drive-by booking. I cannot be held responsible.
The reason I was walking to crime was to pick up the fifth book in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery series, Dead Over Heels. And it was there. And so was the sixth, A Fool and His Honey. I’ve actually already read and reviewed these books here!
Then I ventured to Teen Fiction because hype got the better of me and I saw the new Sarah J Maas book, A Court of Thorns and Roses. I’ve never read any of her books before but I’ve heard enough to know I should. So this signed by the author copy made its way to the pile. Followed by Half Bad by Sally Green. I always pick this up and put it down when I find myself in bookstores and those tricksy ‘buy one get one half price’ stickers weakened my resolve. I’m reading this at the moment and really enjoying it.

And of course, I cracked and bought the second book in the Mistborn series; The Well of Ascension after loving the first book. I don’t know when I’ll get around to this one because big books still scare me but hopefully it will be soon!

Lastly the book I went into the store to buy. Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver. The talk was to promote this book and it sounds amazing so I’m really glad to add this to my collection. I got a copy for my Grandpa too since he’s also a Jeffery Deaver fan.

So those are the books I bought! With my Helmsley Cut-Price Bookstore haul, my Barter Books haul, my eBay haul, a couple of books I haven’t hauled and now these I’m up to 13 books bought this year. So I’m actually on track with my reading goal to only buy half as many as I read, since I’ve read 41 so far.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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Jeffery Deaver Event at Waterstones Deansgate

A couple weeks ago I went off into Manchester to the Waterstones in Deansgate to see one of my favourite authors of all time speak about his books. Jeffery Deaver. The talk was mainly to find out about his new book, Solitude Creek, the fourth book in the Kathryn Dance series.

Jeffery Deaver talking about his new book and a picture of me with him
Not one of the best pictures of me but hey

The new book sounds absolutely fascinating and I’m thinking I may marathon the Kathryn Dance series sometime this year, it’s been a while since I read them. The new bad guy doesn’t actually kill people himself but kills by inciting panic in public places. Big crowds of panicked people = not good.

One of the most interesting things he spoke about was how the draft compares to the final edit and even read out a long page of initial draft then the sentence that ended up in the book. He also let us know he’s going to have a writing book coming out in the next couple years and you can bet I’m buying that!

Signed Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver

After his talk I waited in the signing line for a while and had the opportunity to talk to him where I mentioned seeing him about five years ago at one of his signings. Hence the message he wrote in my book, I love it. It was a really interesting and fun event and totally underpriced at £3 a ticket for Waterstones loyalty card holders.

Have you ever seen one of your favourite authors talk?

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Book Review: Day Four by Sarah Lotz!

Days 1, 2, 3.
Cruise is relatively uneventful.

Day Four by Sarah Lotz on top of The Three by Sarah Lotz

It’s no secret that I adored The Three by Sarah Lotz. My review was glowing and it was an easy five out of five stars for me. So when I heard there was going to be a follow up, a kind of companion novel, it was on my radar and I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy of Day Four.

What made The Three so good for me was the multi-media aspect, much like the mockumentary interviews in World War Z, but you just get a glimpse of that in Day Four. The majority is third person narrative from the point of view of certain characters; the maid, the security guard, the doctor, an elderly guest, even the rapist on board. There are a few blog posts from one of the guests here and there which I obviously enjoyed and some interviews near the end but no where near the level that was put in The Three.

Sequels rarely stand up to the originals when the originals are so amazing that all you want is a sequel. Donnie Darko had S. Darko. Hangover had Hangover II. And The Three had Day Four. It’s not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination, if I picked this up as a stand alone I probably would like it just fine. But for me, it just doesn’t stand up to the original. It’s worth a read but not a classic.

As an original book, the story of a cruise ship being out of power is pretty scary. There was even a line that had me shiver from the chill up my spine. The characters were interesting but the multi-POV had me wishing for longer with certain people and less with others, I wanted to see the relationships change under the strain and I found it pretty trick to keep up with the switches. Despite that, I’m not going on a cruise for a while!

Overall, if Sarah Lotz writes another book for this series- I’d still buy it and devour it. But this sequel didn’t stand up to the original for me. You can buy Day Four here!

What do you think of book sequels? Have you read Day Four?

*I was sent this book for review. It hasn’t changed my opinion. Amazing links are affiliate links.

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Books I Read in.. May!

Well I definitely didn’t do as well as I did in April with my reading. But really, it was unlikely I was going to read ten again without a holiday! I did read five books last month though despite a little reading/ blogging slump at the end and a big assignment due. Two of these books I haven’t even hauled yet!

Pile of books including Dead over Heels and A Fool and his Honey by Charlaine Harris, The Lost Art of keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, Woman of the Dead by Bernhard Aichner and Day Four by Sarah Lotz

Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris
I was a little disappointed by this one, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good and I really felt like the series had started to descend. The conclusion to the murder felt like it came so out of left field that it didn’t seem realistic, it was trying so hard to come out of nowhere that it had an unreasonable explanation.
And I really don’t like Martin as a character, I adore the series and Aurora as a character but this one disappointed me- especially since these two were the only ones I’ve bought at full price!
Overall, there is was wonderful smell of books, and the relaxing, intelligent feeling of being surrounded by generation after generation of thought.

A Fool and his Honey by Charlaine Harris
I normally am a big fan of stories with babies but this just didn’t read as well as I’d hoped. Aurora was fighting a battle that definitely wasn’t hers and I just couldn’t understand their involvement. The ending had me tearing up a bit though, and since I’ve read the last books in the series- they get better than these two. Don’t let this put you off, it isn’t a bad book but sometimes you just know they can be so much better.
Baptism wouldn’t put a protective candy coating on Hayden. He wasn’t an M&M.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice*
Full review/rave coming soon!

Woman of the Dead by Bernhard Aichner**
This is the first translated book I think I’ve ever reviewed! This was originally in German. Plus, I realised as I was putting it on my ‘read’ shelf that it’s the first book I’ve read in the past 1 1/2 years that has an author whose name begins with A- so I’m pleased my Book Review Directory will look a little better now!
Anyway, the review. It was really good. The characters were fascinating and the development of the story as it went on was just so full of twists and turns- I genuinely swore out loud at a certain reveal!
The one thing that didn’t work was the long pages of back and forth dialogue with no speech tags or action. It was very confusing to know who was talking and at least once, someone spoke, then spoke again but it was formatted like somebody else. Apart from that, it was an easy read and a thrilling, and sometimes disturbing, story.
“Change is good.”
“When Winter is over the trees turn green.”

Day Four by Sarah Lotz*
My full review will be up on Monday!

What did you read this month?

* I was sent these books for review.
** I won this book from Goodreads.

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5 Things I Love about Summer!

The sun is out and my typing is joined by the sound of birdsong, the same birdsong that woke me up at 5am through the open window. I’m not a fan of Summer in general. It’s way too hot for me and I both loathe applying sunscreen and have the skin of a ghost. But in a bid to be positive about the upcoming three months, here are 5 things I love about Summer!

The Beach in Summer

1. Summer Holidays.
Not so much for me, as a distance learning student I actually have a huge deadline at the beginning of August so I’m working my tail off, but all of my friends are home from University now and I’m really excited to see them and catch up on their news. 
2. All the good fruits and vegetables start coming into season. 
Nectarines. Cherries. Apricots. Peaches. Artichokes. Need I say more? I can live off fruits and vegetables in the Summer season, those and the occasional ice pop.
3. Top Notch Lighting. 
Summer is pretty much every bloggers favourite season because the lighting is actually decent for once. The sun is blaring and the editing is a minimum. I’m stocking up on well lit pictures for the upcoming months because in Winter, those 2 minutes of direct sunlight are easily missed.
4. Summer Reads.
Even though I don’t have any holidays planned, I’ll be reaching for some of my more summer-y reads now the sun is out a little more. It’s just not the season for reading about chills and crackling fires, give me a novel that I can read while I chug ice cold water. I’ll be posting my TBR soon.
5. The Return of Orange is the New Black.
Okay, I was running out of things to love. I really don’t like Summer that much. But Orange is the New Black is returning tomorrow and I’m so excited! I’ve cleared out most of my day so I can binge watch it. It’s my motivation to get ahead on work.

What do you love about Summer?
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