Thursday, March 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

Nothing to Declare 


Back in 2014, I decided I was going to re-read Ann M. Martin's beloved series about four 12 year old girls in Connecticut who babysat the neighbourhood children. Those of us of a certain vintage who love books seem to have started out with the BSC - I've no idea why I didn't continue the series at the time, but from now on I'll endeavour to bring you a new recap every week.

The first post is here:

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #1: Kirsty's Big Idea

On to the second one!

Every book is written from the POV of the character mentioned in the title, so this one is focused mainly on snack-smuggler/fashionista Claudia Kishi.

As always, there's a personal issue and a wider issue at play. The personal is that Claudia feels a bit down about her school work. She's allowed to babysit only if she does well in school, and must be supervised by a family member when she's doing homework so that she doesn't slack off. She finds it all very boring, and it's a sore point between her and her genius sister Janine.

The wider issue is that there's a prank caller on the loose - someone is making prank calls to homes that are later robbed. This happens a few times when the girls are babysitting, and they become increasingly freaked out, but - gasp - it's okay, it's just two boys who have crushes on Claudia and Kristy who have been ringing them and hanging up. Because......they're twelve year old boys and find this hilarious. Kristy and Claudia then have a really problematic discussion about boys that I'm sure 12-year-old me just lapped up:

K: Well, it's just that Alan finally proved something my mother's been telling me for years. Only I didn't believe her until now.
C: What's that?
K: That boys tease you because they like you.

Claudia's fashion, as always, is on point - with the only notable outfit in this book being:

"Purple pants that stop just below my knees, held up with suspenders. White tights with clocks on them, a purple plaid shirt, matching hat, high-top sneakers and earrings with lobsters on them."

BSC Book 2 - Claudia Kishi
Details: Polyvore
Special mentions to go to the school dance (the Halloween Hop), Kristy threatening the little children she's watching ("One false move and I'll punch your lights out") and this kid, who I really hope shows up in future books:

"Ordinarily, I might have tried to sneak in line with her, but she was standing right next to this kid, Alexander Kurtzman, who carries a briefcase and wears a jacket and tie, and lives to obey rules. One of his favourites is 'no frontsies, no backsies' so there was really no point in trying to butt in."

Same, Alexander. Same.

Licorice Whips hidden in her desk.
We have these too, they're licorice laces here I think.

A bag of Root Beer Barrels under her mattress.
Root Beer Barrels are barrel-shaped hard candies flavoured like root beer, which is a non-alcoholic soft drink. I've never seen it here, but I assume it's similar to ginger ale. This may be a good time to tell you about the cans of Shandy my Nana let me buy in the early 1990s, Club made them - they came in a brown can and had something like 0.1% alcohol in them, I used to feel terribly grown up altogether.

A gigantic chocolate bar in her notebook.
Yes, IN her notebook.

Saltwater Taffy in her pencil jar. 
I only know what that is because of Phoebe Buffay's reaction to it, but I just found out this second that a piece of taffy is called a chew here. So think chewits, starburst, chewy toffee, etc.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Monthly Reads: Februrary 2018

Links under books are Affiliate links. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I read 10 books in February, so I'll get straight to them!

All of the covers below are clickable, and should take you to my longer review on Goodreads. Add me as a friend there if you use it! 

Books I Received for Review

I didn't receive any physical books in February, but I did read three from Netgalley:


From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Published March 22nd)
Donal Ryan's fourth full-length book follows the stories of three very different men who are all connected in some way. Farouk, along with his wife and child, is trying to escape his war-torn homeland. Lampy feels like he's getting left behind while all his friends move on in their lives. John is coming towards the end of his life and looking back over his regrets. I always feel, when reading anything by Donal Ryan, like someone has welcomed me in, given me a big blanket and a cup of tea, then snuck up behind me to rip my soul out. This is no different - it's gripping, haunting, and addictive.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Fear by C.L. Taylor (Published March 22nd)
Louise Wandsworth was in the news aged 14 when her karate instructor, Mike, groomed and abducted her. Now years later, Louise is back in her hometown - and she thinks Mike is grooming another young girl. I enjoyed this a lot, I'm a fan of this author anyway but this was one of her better ones.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
As luck would have it, I was approved for this less than 24 hours after I bought it. It's a modern day fairytale about a young woman who, along with her mother, has been trying to outrun bad luck for as long as she can remember. All Alice knows about her mysterious grandmother Althea Prosperine is that she's a reclusive author, but when word arrives that Althea has died, Alice is thrown into a dangerous world that will question everything she thought she knew about her family. I enjoyed this, though I  liked the first half more than the second. Fans of Caraval may enjoy.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Borrowed

I made good use of the library in February, and borrowed four books:


Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell
This was a Rick O'Shea Book Club pick for February. Incidentally, there are now four monthly picks over at the ROSBC (you'll find them all on my Books 2018 page). I'm trying to read as many as possible this year, because they are usually books I wouldn't choose for myself. 
This is one I definitely wouldn't have picked - it's a sort of Lethal Weapon-esque romp around Dublin set in 1999, based around Detective Bunny McGarry and his squad. There's gangland criminals, a woman with a dangerous past, nuns, and....hurling. I enjoyed it, and I really didn't think I would. 

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Another ROSBC pick. This is a story about one day in the life of Ivan, a prisoner in a Gulag in the 1950s. Although Ivan is fictional, the author himself spent 8 years imprisoned in a similar labour camp for political crimes, so there's a very raw realness about it. 


Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary
A third ROSBC pick that I managed to get my hands on in February (they fly out of the library when they're announced every month) - this is a beautiful debut novel about an unconventional relationship. Set in Dublin in the 80s, Sonny is a young teenager who always seems to be in trouble. Vera is a glamorous, unattainable, older English woman. Secrets, solace, and a nod to Sonny Knowles. Magic. 

My Story by Joanne Hayes
When Joanne Hayes and the "Kerry Babies" tragedy came to the forefront of the news again recently, I requested this. It's her story, in her own words, about what happened. It doesn't make for easy or pleasant reading - mainly because of the subject matter and the utter contempt with which Joanne and her family were treated with - but also because parts of it are still applicable in 2018. We've come far as a country in some ways, but in others - not nearly far enough. This is out of print, but is available to request at the library. 

Books I Bought

Two of these were free, via the BookBub daily email.


Promise to Marry by Jessica Wood
I have a few favourite "guilty pleasure" (if  you use that term, I make no apologies whatsoever for liking what I like) tropes that I can't resist: Boarding School Drama, High School Reunion, The Childhood Pact, The Body Swap and The Fake Girlfriend. This came under The Childhood Pact umbrella (and it was free): Jax and Chloe made a pact as kids that if they weren't married by the age of 30, they'd marry each other. Roll on to Chloe's 30th and she is no longer speaking to Jax, her boyfriend is a dick, and she's not in a good place. This is a short novella, book one in a trilogy. I've no desire to continue because the ending was just ridiculous, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. That award goes to.....

Three Nights With a Rock Star by Amber Lin and Shari Slade
Sometimes I look at reviews and think - surely, it couldn't be THAT bad, could it? This was free, and while I saw an awful lot of poor reviews, my curiosity was peaked enough to click. Chloe is pregnant after a summer working on tour with a rock band, Half Life. She does not want to tell the father. So, instead of, oh maybe - trusting Chloe to make her own judgements, her older sister/guardian Hailey up and leaves. Dressed as a "rock chick", Sunday School teacher Hailey abandons her moral compass and crashes a hotel party where she knows the band will be. She isn't there too long before she's banging the worlds angriest horniest man up against a window after signing a pact agreeing to be "his" for a weekend in order to gain access to his crew to ask about Chloe's Baby Daddy. There's a very, very weird threesome with a bandmate, some family drama, and Chloe's story running alongside. I needed a wash after it. I'm still trying to locate my eyeballs after they rolled away. 
Buy (at your own peril): Kindle 

Still Me by JojoMoyes
Thank heavens for Louisa Clark - this was by far my most enjoyable read of February. I adored Me Before You, I disliked After You, and I was nervous about this one. Would it be worse? Would it redeem the whole series? I needn't have worried, it's a return to form and a return to the old Louisa we all know and love. She's working in New York City for a family that are worlds apart from the Traynors. Her love of fashion is back, her love of life is back, and Will's presence is done just perfectly - not overdone, not cheese, just right. I absolutely loved it (could have done without the predictable Katie arc, though, to be honest) and I didn't want it to end. I got some Devil Wears Prada vibes off this one too, I'd be interested to know if anyone else felt the same. 

I ticked three prompts off my Popsugar Reading Challenge list:

* A novel based on a real person: Joanne Hayes, My Story.
* A book set in a country that fascinates you: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. 
* The next book in a series you started: Jojo Moyes, Still Me.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Reading Agency Quick Reads 2018

Nothing to Disclose


I was browsing Amazon recently and came across a book marked "Quick Read" and priced at £1. I had a search and discovered that it's something that started in 2006, with six titles released by The Reading Agency every year.

Quick Reads are aimed at less confident adult readers who may find themselves intimidated by a longer book. According to The Reading Agency, one in three adults in the UK does not read for pleasure. I know several adults (reader, I married one) who would never pick up a book in their free time.

I think that as well as being a way for a less confident reader to enjoy a book, the quick reads would be brilliant for people who like a good story but don't have the time to commit to a tome. I lurk around a lot of different reading communities - from Bookstagram to Goodreads to online Book Clubs - and I see the same comment again and again: "I'd love to read more but I just haven't the time or the concentration to read a full book right now".

The titles are commissioned specially, with a wide range of genres included. The ones for 2018 are:

Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (128 pages)
What happens when one spouse wants a divorce, but the other doesn't? Kate wants out, but Jack isn't prepared to let her go. Especially when he finds out she hasn't been altogether honest with him.

Cut Off by Mark Billingham (112 pages)
We all know the panic of losing our phone. But for Louise, the nightmare starts when someone gets in touch claiming they've found it... 

A million dollar car is missing from a garage in Mumbai. Inspector Chopra has just two days to find it, or the criminal who owns it won't be happy. 

Six Foot Six by Kit De Waal (80 pages)
On the day of his twenty-first birthday, Timothy Flowers (who is six foot six inches tall) is asked to do a favour, one that will change his life. 

The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (112 pages)
Tessa's daughter Nia is due to get married at a beautiful beach resort. But for Tessa, the beach holds some bad memories, and she's not sure that it bodes well for Nia...

The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton (102 pages)
A very famous Hollywood actor ends up in a small Cornish village after walking off a movie set. 

I've bought them all, so I'll include them in my next round up later this week. 

If you're an adult who struggles with reading, NALA (National Adult Literacy Agency) have a number of ways to help you. You can contact them by phoning 1800 20 20 65, by texting LEARN to 50050, or by filling out their online contact form here:

If you have any other quick read or novella suggestions, please do leave them below!

Sharon x

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monthly Reads: January 2018

Links under books are Affiliate links. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I had great intentions for January, but got addicted to rewatching Friends and RuPaul's Drag Race on Netflix and kinda forgot about audiobooks altogether.

That being said, I read 10 books in January and abandoned one. I also used the library almost every week (well, at least 3 out of the 46 weeks in January) so I was delighted with myself!

My resolution to only buy 10 new books this year has gone down the toilet, I got some Amazon vouchers after Christmas and have been topping up my Kindle every couple of days when something catches my eye on the BookBub daily email (sign up for free to get a daily email with special offers & sales).

All of the covers below are clickable, and should take you to my longer review on Goodreads.

Books I Received for Review
I've been trying to stay away from Netgalley altogether because I get greedy and my feedback goes to hell, so I've been clearing the backlog of books I was approved for (how long have I been saying that for? Years, damnit). They're all available to buy.


Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
I've liked the other books by this author a lot - The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks in particular was an entertaining Dead Poets Society-esque YA book about feminism and secret societies. This one, I didn't enjoy as much. It's small (under 300 pages) so I read it in an evening - it's about a woman who is on the run from something, but it's told in reverse. I liked it but I wish I had kept decent notes because I kept forgetting the relevance of certain events. 

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill
This is a family drama told by a couple of different members of a family. It's based around an event that each of them remember differently, and how those memories rather than the actual event had an effect on their lives. It's good, I could see it as a TV series, but unreliable narrators irk me sometimes and this has them in abundance. It's thought provoking though, and my head almost melted thinking about how people remember things completely differently. It made me question the certainty of my own memories and that really unnerved me! 


The Border by Steve Schafer
This really isn't the type of book I'd normally pick up - I think I took a chance because I'm trying to read as much about different cultures as possible. This is about two young Mexican boys who witness a terrible crime and have to go on the run. They're trying to make it across the border with their friends, but they face a huge number of perils along the way. It's high energy, fast, full of action from the get-go - and very uncomfortable when you realise that this still happens. Not an #ownvoices novel, but there's a great piece at the end where the author explains why he felt he had the knowledge and responsibility to write it. 

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
A non-fiction account of the young women who worked in factories across America as dial painters before, during and after WWI. Known for their luminosity (literally, they glowed at night and everyone thought it was glamorous), they soon began to feel the adverse effects of working with radium on a daily basis. With no company admitting any liability, it was up to the girls to band together and seek justice. This is a fascinating and very sad book, but one I'd recommend.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Borrowed
I use the library service an awful lot, both digitally and in person. These are the books I borrowed in January:


The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor
A sort-of fiction, sort-of not retelling of the Cottingley Fairies story. Two young girls decide to stage fairies at the bottom of their garden but it gets incredibly out of hand and attracts the attention of national media. In the present day, a young woman has big decisions to make when she inherits a bookshop in Dublin. This book was lovely, really well written and very comforting, like one of those nice cosy films you'd stumble upon of a Sunday afternoon. Really liked it.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
This is one of the Richard & Judy book club picks for Spring 2018. It's about a marriage, but it's told from the POV of the husband, which is welcome and unusual. He and his wife are approached by someone who wants them to take "The Pact" - ensuring the success of their marriage. Nobody who has taken the pact has ever been divorced - but there are rules, ones that must not be broken. This book was absolutely bonkers, in a good way. Some of it made me roll my eyes so hard but it was different, memorable, and it was a really unique tale. Loved it.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo
Another pick from the Richard & Judy Spring 2018 selection. This is the 11th book in the popular Harry Hole series. You don't have to have prior knowledge of the series, this works well as a standalone. There's an investigation going on into some very gory murders linked to a dating website - but do the Police already know the killer? This was full of action, twists, red herrings, and there's a lot going on - but it works, and I liked it, though it was incredibly gory in parts.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Bought
These are all books I've either had on my Kindle or Shelves for ages, or ones I've bought recently.


Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta
This is good old fashioned horror, similar to The Omen or Rosemary's Baby. Set in the 70s, it's the story of Ivy Templeton, a ten year old girl living with her parents in an apartment in New York City. The parents realise that a strange man is watching Ivy all the time - he thinks she is the reincarnation of his daughter, Audrey Rose. A whole pile of strangeness ensues. I liked this, but there's a court case in here that made me lose the will to read. I did finish it, but skimmed a lot of that part. I've read worse books, but I felt like this had such a strong beginning and went downhill towards the middle. Still worth a read if 70's NYC is your thing! 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
The most talked about book during the first week in January for sure - but did it live up to the hype? Unequivocally, NO. Any of the real unknown "juicy" gossip had been leaked prior to publication, leaving for a rambly ranty account of the Trump Presidency. Melania barely features, it's the Steve Bannon show right from the off, and it's by far the most badly written book I've read about Trump so far. I bought it from Amazon, and it was destroyed with typos and grammatical errors. Yes, it was rushed for early publication, but these were mistakes that should have been caught on a first edit, not two days before it was let out into the wild. There's nothing new in here - reading Trump's tweets already shows what kind of person he is, we didn't need an overhyped "exposé" to come to the conclusion that he probably doesn't belong in the position he's in. Get Joshua Green's book instead if you want to learn more about Stevie's influence over Trump. 

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight
I've had this on my Kindle for so long - it's about the aftermath of a terrible incident involving a fifteen year old girl and the impact it has on those nearest and dearest to her. I'm not sure how much the blurb reveals, so I won't take it too much further - but it's sad, and it's a stark lesson for people to always speak up.

Abandoned Books
I rarely abandon a book (according to Goodreads, out of 665 total books read, I abandoned 17, or 2.6% meaning I finish 97.4% of books I start, useless stat fans). This one though - I just couldn't continue.

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama
This has had rave reviews, and I was looking forward to it ahead of the release of the sequel this year. It's a police procedural set in Japan, based on an unsolved murder case. Right before the Anniversary of the case, some information comes to light that may be important - but was it there all along? Sounds great, right? And it probably is, but I just couldn't get into it. It was so long and so wordy - I think that it could have done with another edit, just to cut out pages and pages of non-important stuff. I still wanted to know what happened (thanks, Wikipedia) and I'd love to go back and read it but it felt like wading through pages of waffle just to get to the good stuff.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository 

And that's a wrap for January. I ticked a few prompts off my Popsugar Reading Challenge list:

* Nordic Noir: Jo Nesbo, The Thirst
* A Book about a villain or antihero: E. Lockhart, Genuine Fraud
* A Book about death or grief: Kimberley McCreight, Reconstructing Amelia
* A Book you borrowed or received as a gift: Michelle Richmond, The Marriage Pact
* A Book from a celebrity book club: Fiona Neill, The Betrayals (Richard & Judy)
* A Book published in 2018:  Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury
* A past Goodreads Choice winner: Kate Moore, The Radium Girls

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review: Look Fantastic Beauty in Wonderland Advent Calendar 2017

Links are affiliate links.


Last year, I did a post on the 2016 Look Fantastic Advent Calendar breaking it down to see if it was worth the €95 price tag, so I thought I'd do it again with the 2017 one. The theme for 2017 was "Beauty in Wonderland", and the box was once again massive - this time, it came in the form of a mini storage tower, including a lift-up mirrored compartment on the top and four decent sized pull-out drawers.

Once again, it was filled to the brim with items sold by Look Fantastic on their site.

In no particular order, here's a detailed look at what was inside:

Look Fantastic Contour Brush | Full Size | Value: €9.00

I've used both of these, the contour brush is good - it's much lighter than it looks, and it's nice and soft. I brought the cloth on a recent night away, not realising that it's recommended you run it through the wash first - it removed foundation and waterproof mascara without too much scrubbing but as with all of these cloths, my face didn't feel clean and I think it'll be living out the rest of its life as a screen wipe. 

Dr. Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil | Half Size, 15ml | Value €41.70
Balance Me Flash Cleanse Micellar Water |  Travel Size, 30ml | Value €3.15
Oskia London Renaissance Mask | Travel Size, 10ml | Value €12.80

I've been using the Facial Oil for the past few weeks - it doesn't seem to be making any kind of difference but it's a pleasant product to use. It reminds me of the Skin Chemists serum that I mentioned in my empties earlier in the month, only less tacky. I haven't used the other two yet, but I'm looking forward to trying that Oskia mask. 

High Definition Eyeshadow Palette in 002 "Foxy" | Full Size | Worth €33.95
Model Co Instant Brows in "Light/Medium" | Full Size | Worth €16.45
Ciaté Fierce Flicks Eyeliner in Black | Full Size | Worth €13.45

The eyeliner is lovely, really easy to use. The eyebrow pencil was too light for me, and I found the crayon a bit thick. There was a little double ended brush included with the palette but I didn't find it much use so discarded it. Here's a look at the shades: 

There's not a hope in hell that I'd recommend it for over €30, it's nice but it's no nicer than Catrice or Essence. It's just a nice neutral palette. 

Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy | Travel Size 25g | Worth €4.75
Bellapierre Banana Setting Powder | Full Size | Worth €15.30
Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm | Sample Size 4ml | Worth €4.25

The hand cream is lovely, but takes a little while to sink in compared to my favourite Body Shop ones. I haven't used the Banana Powder yet, and the nipple balm is fabulous. It has really helped to improve the condition of my lips, and a tiny bit goes a very long way (good job, because the sample is tiny). 

Molton Brown Gingerlily Body Wash | Travel Size 100ml | Worth €7.80
Korres Wild Rose Advanced Repair Sleeping Facial | Travel Size 16ml | Worth €12.20
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream | Travel Size 15ml | Worth €28.20
Caudalíe Vinosource Moisturising Sorbet | Travel Size 15ml | Worth €8.60

The Molton Brown is lovely, I really like the brand and it's not something I'd buy for myself so I'm always happy to see it appear in a box or calendar. The scent wouldn't be my favourite but it's still nice. I haven't used the Korres facial yet, and both the Marine Cream and Sorbet are fine - I can never see a massive difference no matter what I use, but both products are pleasant to use and smell nice. 

This Works in transit camera close-up | Travel Size 15ml | Worth €13.30
Illamasqua Lava Lips in "Vixen" | Full Size | Worth €23.45
Doucce Maxlash Volumizer Mascara in Black | Mini Size | Worth €?

I've used this primer before, and I like it. The lipstick is fine, I think the marbled lava effect is a bit gimmicky, but this is a nice neutral very pale red/pink. The mascara - I can't find any info online (it seems to crop up a lot in beauty boxes). For me, the brush was too big - it just gave me very clumpy spidery lashes. 

Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist | Travel Size 30ml | Worth €19.50
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream | Full Size | Worth €11.95
James Read Gradual Tan | Travel Size 30ml | Worth €5.70

The mist, to me, smells a bit Febreze-ish. I know it's popular and it's based on the first ever perfume water, but to me it's a wallop of Granny followed by nothing. Is it a perfume? Is it a facial mist? The scent doesn't last long enough for it to be perfume, but it's too scented for a facial mist. I didn't like this. The First Aid Beauty cream is gorgeous, I'm a fan of the brand anyway and I really like using this on my legs. The James Read tan is full of glitter and I wish they'd stop including it in beauty boxes, not everyone wants to a) tan, or b) be seen from Space. 

Grow Gorgeous Scalp Detox | Travel Size 50ml | Worth €9.20
Redken No Blow Dry Airy Cream for Fine Hair | Travel Size 30ml | Worth €3.70
Moroccanoil Treatment | Travel Size 15ml | Worth €9.00

I haven't used the scalp detox yet, because I'm really lazy when it comes to washing my hair and I just haven't remembered to try it. I used the Redken treatment once but as it's designed for fine hair, it didn't really seem to do much for my very thick frizzy locks. It left the ends looking slightly like wet dog, but I'll give it another go before I give up on it. I was happy with the Moroccanoil, a little goes a very long way and it's a great treatment. 

Pixi by Petra Hello Glow! Kit | Full Size | Worth €24.00

This kit contains a liquid illuminator, blusher & highlighter duo, and a glossy lip plumper. I won't use this, nor have I opened it, so if you'd like to win it I'll be giving it away on either Facebook or Instagram later this week.

The products in the 2017 calendar come to a total (approximate) value of €338.60, plus the mascara. The box cost €98 delivered. The 2016 one came in at around €350, so there's not a whole pile of difference value wise. I feel like the focus was on expensive skincare this year- which is fine, I like getting the opportunity to try brands that I wouldn't otherwise be able to try, but it leaves for a boring enough calendar if you're more interested in makeup. 

I don't  know if I'd be rushing to pre-order again this year, I think the novelty is wearing off and I'd like to try something less expensive, like the Marks & Spencer one. If you bought this too, what did you think? Or what was your favourite product from the box? 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Books I Read in November & December

Nothing to Disclose. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


Every year my reading drops in November and December because it's a really busy time of year for me. This year I really wanted to try and read at least a couple of books, and I'm happy to report that I read 3 in November and 8 in December.



A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa
This was a Kindle First pick for December. I don't usually get one, but this looked interesting on the basis that we don't really get to hear accounts from people who live in North Korea very often. It's harrowing, it's hard to read, and it's full of grief. I think it is worth a read, just to see exactly what it was like for this man over the 36 years he lived there - but it's not an easy read at all. 

Almost the Perfect Murder by Paul Williams
I can not abide Paul Williams, but I wanted to read about how the horrific murder of Elaine O'Hara was solved. When a friend lent me a copy, I read it in pretty much one sitting. I hate the title of this book, but it's fascinating to read about. Very, very graphic and very upsetting in parts. 

Devil's Bargain by Joshua Green
An account of who exactly Steve Bannon is and how he came to be involved with the election of Donald Trump. A much better book by all accounts than Fire and Fury, and very much worth a read if you have an interest in U.S. politics. 


How to Succeed in the Beauty Business by Ciara Allen
This is a must-read if you're in any way interested in beauty blogging or beauty as a career. Ciara has written a bible - with sections on how to start, how to make contacts, how to gain experience and much, much more. My own interest in beauty has waned significantly over the past few years but I enjoyed every second of this.

Into the Valley by Chris Clement-Green
I was a part of the blog tour for this release, so you can read my full review in that post here. This is an account of Chris' time spent as a Police Officer in London in the 80s. Anyone into Police procedurals would enjoy this, I think.

The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band who Burned a Million Pounds by John Higgs
Yes, that KLF. Justified and Ancient. This is a really, really fascinating account of how the band came to be, and how they ended up burning a million pounds in cash on a small island in 1994. This is so engaging, and really witty. Even if you have no interest in the band, the chapters about shared thoughts and the existence of money are well worth the read. Great research, great book, one of my favourite reads last year.



My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Winter Romances by Various, edited by Stephanie Perkins
A Young Adult anthology containing short stories by twelve different authors, all set around the theme of winter romance. My favourites were by by Kiersten White (a story about a guy who cooks food at a diner based not on what people order, but what they really need) and Stephanie Perkins (a tale about a girl meeting a boy at a Christmas tree lot). Very sweet. 

One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot (ARC)
I really like Mandy's Christmas books. This one is about a woman from Notting Hill who cares for her sister. She finds out that the company she works for are in talks to develop a Super Hotel in London, and the CEO is in town. Mandy's pop culture references and sharp wit always save her stories from becoming too twee and predictable, she's one of the first I look to when I want something sweet and romantic. 



Friend Request by Laura Marshall
Louise is (understandably) shocked when she receives a friend request from someone who has died years ago. Who is pretending to be Maria? Or, is she really dead? This features two of my favourite tropes: 80s flashbacks and school reunions. It was a good read, not one of my favourites but it was a nice little thriller and a good debut.

In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green
Neve inherits a cottage in the strangest of ways. Expecting a peaceful retreat to help get her life back on track, she ends up in a house of horrors. Someone does not want her there - and what was the previous owner really like? I enjoyed this a lot, it was an addictive read. Recommended!

Oh My God What a Complete Aisling by Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen
Fans of the Facebook page will be familiar with Ais and her boyfriend, Generic John. But you don't have to be a fan to read this - everyone knows an Aisling. A country girl working in the city, with a long-term boyfriend and no sign of an engagement ring. When Ais and John attend yet another wedding, Ais decides things need to change. Warm, witty, and friendly, this book was lovely, and managed to get a few really serious issues in there too. Also recommended!

And that's it - that brings my 2017 reading to a total of 138. As always, I'll update the Books 2017 page with clickable covers, just click any one to go to my full Goodreads review. I've a shiny new Books 2018 page that I'll update as I go, thanks for staying with me throughout another great reading year!