7 October 2018

Book Mix & Match 4

I chose a cocktail that makes me think of spring, as it has turned decidedly colder and more wintry as I write this. The Floral Daiquiri makes me think of warmer days. First rinse a little Creme de violette around a coupe glass. Muddle a few blueberries in a shaker, then add 2 shots of rum, 2/3 shot of lime juice, 1/2 shot of lavender syrup and 1/2 shot of elderflower liqueur. Shake with ice and strain into your glass. Then pick a book from the selection below and forget about the cold!

The Book of Dust - Philip Pullman
This is the story of Malcolm, who meets Lyra when she is just a baby. There seem to be a great many people interested in her and he immediately feels protective towards the little girl. He knows she will be important in the future and luckily his instincts are quite accurate in knowing who to trust and who may be a danger to her. When a great flood appears, he rescues Lyra and with the help of Alice and his trusty canoe, Le Belle Sauvage, will go to great lengths to get Lyra back to her father.
I was re-reading Northern Lights at the same time and this feels exactly the same, even though it is written so many years later. I loved it and found it so hard to put down every time I started reading.
I love the idea of daemons, another part of ourselves that we could actually talk to. This quote from the book pretty much says it all..."Of course, he and Asta were one being, so the intuitions were his anyway, as much as his feelings were hers."

City of Ghosts - Victoria Schwab
While Cass's parents write books about ghosts, she can actually see ghosts and even her best friend is a ghost. When her parents are asked to film a new ghost hunter TV show, they visit haunted Edinburgh. There Cass meets Lara, who is just like her and explains that they have a job to do. They have the power to send ghosts past the veil so they are no longer stuck in this world.
While quite a lot of this first book is world building, I am really looking forward to book two and more of Cass' adventures. Hopefully there will be more about Jacob's background, it definitely sounds like he is going to be an interesting character.

Strange The Dreamer - Laini Taylor
As an orphan child in a monastery, Lazlo loves to play at being a Tizerkane warrior and hardly dares to dream that he would someday day meet one, let alone be able to visit their fabled city of Weep. A chance encounter has him visiting the Great Library of Zosma and there the library decides to keep him. As he grows he spends all his free time researching Weep, finding out anything he can and even teaching himself the language.
When the Tizerkane appear at the library with a problem, he jumps at the chance to do anything he can to help but his life turns out to be far more connected to Weep than he ever could have imagined.
Lazlo's love of books is so wonderful, I can just imagine him as a child, being swallowed up by the library. 
I listened to the audiobook which probably helped a lot with the pronunciation of most of the words, I can't imagine how I would have read them to myself. The narrator's voice and the different characters were great, though I found the reading a little slow and had to speed it up a bit. I'm looking forward to book 2 though I think I will have to continue with audio now that I've started.

The Muse - Jessie Burton
I received the audiobook through City Read as this was the book of the month.
Odelle is trying to make a life for herself in London but is unsatisfied with her job in a shoe shop and manages to get a typing job at an art institute. There she meets Quick, who becomes her mentor. 
Around 30 years earlier, Olive has just moved to Spain with her parents. She lives to paint, though she can't really show her father, an art dealer, as he doesn't believe women can be true artists.
With the discovery of a painting in London, the girls' stories intertwine in an intriguing and mysterious way. There is plenty of suspense, whenever you think you have figured something out, it becomes even more puzzling.
The narrator was wonderful, with a number of very different voices and so much feeling and character.

Sea Witch - Sarah Henning
This book was not at all what I was expecting. It is a Little Mermaid retelling but with a lot more going on and turns out to be more of an origin story. Full of magic, surprises and betrayals.
It probably started off as a 3-star for me but got more interesting as I read on and by then end I really enjoyed it. I loved the descriptions of life by the ocean and how the villagers relied on the ocean as their generous but also merciless goddess.
What bothered me throughout was that I didn't really understand how someone could appear, looking exactly like a girl who drowned a few years ago, but everyone would just believe it wasn't her. Particularly one of her very best friends. I also would have loved to know how Anna, Evie and Nik became friends to start with, especially as Nik and Evie have 
to fight to be allowed to stay friends.

30 September 2018

One Would Think The Deep - Claire Zorn 

Sam has no options after his mother dies suddenly and after an awkward phone conversation from the hospital, he moves in with his estranged aunt and his cousins. There's the ongoing mystery of why his mother lost touch with the rest of his family and even his aunt isn't speaking to his grandmother who vanished but has now reappeared. Gradually, through the story, bits of the past are uncovered and eventually the secrets are revealed.

This book immediately plunges you into all the emotions and doesn't let up all the way through. Sam is so troubled and you gradually find out that he is dealing with a lot more than the death of his mother. His cousin, Minty is the only one who seems happy to have him around. He takes him surfing and it becomes a way for Sam to forget everything going on in his life. When he's on the waves, his mind doesn't have space for anything but the feel of the ocean and the fight to stay alive.

I haven't been to Australia so I don't really know how authentic the descriptions and slang are but it all feels very genuine. I did have a little trouble with Minty's surfer speak but eventually managed to get the gist!

I actually had to make two cocktails for this book as they are both so good I couldn't choose between them. Which one do you prefer?

For the Orange Surfboard, combine the following in a rocks glass over ice. 2 shots orange vodka, 1 shot each of coconut rum and triple sec, 2 shots of orange juice and a splash of cranberry juice over the top.

For the Aussie Beachcomber, mix the ingredients in a shaker over ice, then strain into a rocks glass over more ice. 2 shots spiced rum, 1 shot triple sec, 1/2 shot orgeat, a dash of agave syrup (I skipped this as my orgeat was sweet already), the juice of 1/2 lime and 2 or 3 sprigs of mint. 

10 September 2018

How to Be a Grown Up - Daisy Buchanan

First of all, a bit of a disclaimer. This book is aimed at 20 somethings which puts me just a little (a lot) out of the main demographic. However, I don't feel like a grown up most of the time so I thought it could still be useful. As if to prove that I need growing up advice, I caught myself trying to stuff the book into the teeny tiny little kids bag I had bought. However, there were also some signs it was not really for me, such as when I had to google Encarta... and I'm still left wondering what on Earth are jorts???

The book is full of humorous stories about experiences we all go through like making new friends, falling in love and trying to relax. While not exactly life changing, the book is actually full of bits of good advice, such as to keep moving. Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is enough of a purpose. It made me want to make an effort to widen my social circle. It is also good for just dipping into when you need advice on something particular. There are chapters for anything from how to be confident, how to make mistakes, and even how to wash your hair. As well as advice on panic attacks and how to be sad.

My favourite thing was the summaries and advice at the ends of the chapters. The section titled "Do you really need to tweet that?" was the absolute best part of the book. Hilarious and so very wise! But I also completely loved this line: 

I know...how important it is to remember quietly, 'I am good,' instead of screaming, 'Everyone else is better.'

This needs a proper grown up drink so a simple Martini is perfect. Contrary to James Bond's instruction, a Martini should be stirred not shaken. Take a mixing glass or pitcher and fill with 6 or 7 ice cubes. Pour a capful of vermouth into the pitcher, swirl around and pour out again, keeping the ice. Pour in 2 shots of gin and stir for a minute to ensure the drink is perfectly chilled and diluted. Strain into a chilled Martini glass, garnish with an olive and drink while feeling like a real adult (for a little while at least).

30 August 2018

You Only Live Once - Jess Vallance

Grace is convinced she's going to die from a tropical disease she picked up on holiday. And the worst thing is that this all happens when she's already finished her exams! She decides this is the wake up call that she needs, she's been wasting her life studying and preparing for a boring job and boring life. But no more! She's determined to make every moment count from now on, starting with horseback riding on the beach, bungee jumping and doing something to help others. Of course, none of these turn out quite as she expected.

This book was hilarious in many places, touching and heart warming. Sometimes quite frustrating when Grace does something you just know is going to go wrong, but she always deals with it and moves on. It's all part of normal life after all. Grace's mum was one of my favourite characters. She's so straightforward and unflappable, no matter what Grace tells her. In some parts of the book she seems so wise and in others completely clueless, but always there for her family. Til is also a great character, though she seems so grumpy and unsympathetic at first. She's clearly very good for Grace and perfect for balancing her out.

I really enjoyed reading about Grace's experiences and loved how she just went for it, no matter how many times her plans fell apart and things did not go her way. Even when she makes mistakes she doesn't let that stop her. Book 2 in the series sounds like it will be just as funny, with Grace vowing to be completely honest for 50 days. I can just guess how that is going to go!

I found this delicious cocktail just perfect for Grace. To make the Awaiting Grace, get a tall glass and throw in a few basil leaves and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Muddle them together in the glass before filling with ice. Add a shot of Triple Sec, 2 shots of Vanilla Vodka and a wedge of lime. Top up with cloudy apple juice. Stir and serve.

19 August 2018

YALC 2018

This year I decided to go to YALC (Young Adult Literature Festival) for two days instead of just the one I did last year. This definitely made it a lot easier and I had the second day to chill out a lot more. Also last year the authors I wanted to meet were all on different days so this doubled my chances of catching the ones I wanted! Here's everything I picked up there or took with me for signing, all laid out looking lovely!

I also entered a few competitions over the weekend and managed to win this gorgeous goodie bag for my amazing photo! I'm particularly pleased with the 'naps and snacks' socks.

And of course, you want to see the huge pile of books I managed to get signed by some of my favourite authors. It was wonderful to meet them all and they were all so lovely to talk to. I imagine it must get pretty tiring talking to so many people and signing your name so many times but they all made time to chat.

I manged to pick up a few free books though I definitely feel there was less than last year. While the organisers this year have tried to make proof giveaways a bit fairer by doing raffles and such, it seemed there were a lot fewer copies of the books. No doubt this will change again next year. In general I found the festival a bit less organised but sometimes you just have to go with it! Here's my haul.

And of course I had to buy a bunch more to add to my towering TBR. Some I bought for signing, some I already wanted, and some simply jumped into my arms from the publishers' stalls. But all have come to a loving new home. These are just the ones I hadn't read yet, though I am pleased to say I've managed to read three of these already. I can't wait to read the rest, why can't I have endless time to read???

Did you visit YALC this year or any other year? I'd love to hear about your experiences and any other festivals I need to know about. Let me know in the comments!