Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

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Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

 

Book Title: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Author: Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: July 2014

Source: Courtesy of the Publisher

 

4 / 5 Stars

My Thoughts

The book The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet arrived in my post unsolicited and I really did not know anything about it – I didn’t know it was a modern day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; I didn’t know about the YouTube sensation or award winning of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; I certainly didn’t know about the website.  In fact not having ever read Pride and Prejudice I didn’t even know who Lizzie ( Elizabeth) Bennet was. The only character I was even superficially aware of was of course Mr Darcy. To say that I was going into this book with no background at all was an understatement. This would not do!

While I haven’t watched the videos, I have checked out the website and I decided that the best way to give this book a real chance was to at least do a tandem read of Pride and Prejudice. While this meant it took a bit longer to read this book I am really glad that I took the time. Without having read the classic I don’t think I would have appreciated the modern adaptation nearly as much. Sure it would have read as an entertaining story in itself but it certainly had, to coin a phrase, more of a sense of place this way.

Where I did not find much humour in the classic title I certainly found some gems in The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. On page one the phrase “Hostile laundry takeover” had me chuckling and then again on page three the reference to Mrs Bennet being prepared to do a “two-for-one type deal. Or three” of her daughters depending on the potential husbands net worth. Throughout the book there are gems like these, another that took my fancy being “Time is ticking. Did you know there is a higher chance of getting killed by a terrorist than a woman getting married after thirty?” – laugh out loud at that one!

The characters were at times hilarious renditions of the originals. Lizzie was just as independent thinking and likeable, Lydia as “energetic” and Mrs Bennet as equally obsessed with her daughters marriage prospects. I really liked how this book successfully bought this classic into the digital era making it completely relevant to today yet retained the underlying sense of many of the original Bennet family relationships and encounters.

Overall I really enjoyed this book  and thought that it translated the classic well to a modern day story. At some time I am likely to take a look at the Lizzie Bennet Diaries videos and this book will be going, alongside Pride and Prejudice, on my daughters bookshelf as something that I will happily encourage her to read in the future.

What’s Up Wednesday

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On My Mind: Remembering how trifling my trials and complaints are in comparison to what others have to live with and endure. # keepingthingsinperspective

 

Family Fun: Hubby is not a reader but I was able to capture this rare sighting earlier in the week.  Of course its a fishing book but as a friend pointed out to me ‘ a book is a book’!

rhysbook

Weighty Matters: So this is the end of my third week on the Weight Watchers program and I am liking it so far and have lost some kilos already. Just been making a few minor adjustments to what we usually eat – mostly being selecting lower fat options and measuring portion sizes (although I have to say I am still able to have adequate portions and am not feeling deprived) -  and I am happy to say being suitably restrained at a BBQ on the weekend and not pigging out on nibblies as I would have before.  Of course I couldn’t resist completely and didn’t have to,  but I was just sure to be reasonable and to keep track of what I did indulge in. This months group theme has been exercise and I have a goal to get to aqua aerobics – much gentler on my joints – but a little cold even in the heated pool at present to my liking. Will have to bite the bullet some time though. Might also do some pool walking. All in all I am feeling positive and relaxed about it so far.

Hope you all have an awesome week :-)

 

Musing Mondays

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This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This week I’m musing about something that gets me motivated and inspired:

One of the authors that I have discovered this year is leadership expert Robin Sharma.  I came across him on YouTube and then purchased a couple of his books.

Robin’s book The Leader Who Had No Title is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to develop their leadership potential – this model can be equally applied no matter what your job or even just in your life in general.  It puts forward the principal that EVERYONE can be an effective leader.  One of Robin’s strategies that I have been working on is ‘the 5am club’ – getting up early and using this time to read motivational / inspirational material and to plan my day / week / month / year etc.  Unlike Robin I haven’t yet gotten motivated to use this time for exercise – its a tad too cold for me in the morning at present!  Currently I am slowly making my way through another of his books The Greatness Guide.  If you are interested take the time to search out Robin on YouTube or check out his website.   Listen to Robin’s take on using the early morning hours effectively:

 

 

 

In The Mail

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This week has been a busy one for my postman with books arriving on my doorstep nearly every day. Mostly ARC’s and also a couple that are just recently published.

7julyClick on the link to read the synopsis on Goodreads for each book. ( Expected publication date and publisher I received the book from if relevant are also listed. TRR = The Reading Room)

 

The Lace Balcony by Johanna Nicholls – 1 August 2014 – Simon & Schuster Australia

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – 4 September 2014 – Hachette – TRR

A Place for Us by Harriet Evans – 9 September 2014 – Hachette Australia – TRR

Mothers Grimm by Danielle Wood – September 2014 – Allen & Unwin – TRR

What Came Before by Anna George – Penguin Australia – TRR

The Murder of Harriet Krohn by Karin Fossum – Random House Australia – TRR

Love In The Outback by Deb Hunt – TRR

 

Also this week there were a couple of approvals / invitations for e-arcs on NetGalley:

Deeper Water by Jessie Cole – 1 August 2014 – HarperCollins

The Wharf of Chartrons by Jean-Paul Malaval – !2 August 2014 – Open Road Integrated Media

The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer – 24 September 2014 – Penguin Books Australia

 

7july2A couple I purchased also arrived this week:

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

 

And a bargain from a local op-shop:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

 

I am seriously in need of more bookshelves! What books found their way into your home library this week?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Art Restorer by Julián Sánchez

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Click image to view synopsis on Goodreads

Book Title: The Art Restorer

Author: Julián Sánchez

Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

Publication Date: 8 July 2014

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

 

3.5 / 5 stars

My Thoughts

In 2012 I read and reviewed Julian Sanchez’s The Antiquarian. My review can be read here. Recently I was given the opportunity to read / review the sequel to this book, The Art Restorer. Having quite enjoyed the first instalment I was happily looking forward to this latest release.

The Art Restorer again features writer Enrique and his ex – wife Bety, a philologist, who find themselves embroiled in another mystery, this time in the art world.

The story starts out with the friendship between Bety and art restorer Craig Bruckner who later is found drowned under unlikely circumstances. Bruckner who has briefly met Enrique had spent years researching the famous artist Sert and just prior to his death had been both focused in his research and distracted in his friendship with Bety. Enrique becomes involved when Bety relates the circumstances of Bruckner’s death and when he later receives Bruckner’s research notes in the mail. Just what was Bruckner researching and what made this research so urgent? Was he in fact murdered and if so how was this related to his increasingly frantic research efforts?

As the plot unravels the relationship between Enrique and Bety becomes a side story in itself. Enrique is torn between his relationship with his current girlfriend, Helena, and his unresolved feelings for Bety.

The structure of this book is similar to the first in that Enrique as a writer becomes involved in a mystery which then becomes the subject matter of his writing. The ambiguous relationship between Enrique and Bety again features and for a second time we find Enrique struggling with a current relationship that is challenged by his residual feelings for Bety.
The plot was quite interesting and engaging – especially after the first third of the book which was I felt a bit slow – as the mystery became more intense and with the introduction of the back story based during the German occupation of France. From this point I found myself much more immersed in the story. However I was frustrated by gaps in Helena and Chris’s stories – elements that couldn’t fully be accounted for and conclusions that weren’t substantiated by what we knew of these two characters. It is hard not to be more specific without including spoilers.

Overall I again enjoyed Julian Sanchez’s writing; the mystery element of the book and the art world setting. I did not mind the familiar characters of Enrique and Bety who tie the first and second books together. The Art Restorer, like The Antiquarian, is a satisfying 3.5 star read.

Thanks to Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley for this copy to review

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday

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Yes, What’s Up Wednesday is back where I hope to share some of our week with you!

 

On my Mind: We had a situation this week that got me to pondering: Is there a difference between being excluded and being left out? I think there is! It seems to me that being excluded carries a deliberate intent where being left out can just be through thoughtlessness. Splitting hairs I imagine ;-)

 

Family Fun: This is the second and final week of our school term holidays. We went into this break without any plans to speak of unlike most other breaks however we have ended up being pretty busy and having some fun!

Lunchtime on our girls only shopping trip

We managed to stop spending (briefly!) and take a lunch break.

Wax hand

She loves this wax impression of her hand  – picked up at the boating and camping show she spent the day at with her dad

 

Skating fun with friends

Skating fun with friends

Progressing to blades

Only her second time skating and she had a blast. Started out cautiously on four wheels and progressed to blades which she loved this time around.

 

Weighty Matters: I have a confession to make: I have been obese most of my adult life and it is time for action! Recently I joined (rather re-joined as I have been before) Weight Watchers. This program has worked well for me in the past and I have high ‘hopes’ (not the right word as it takes action not hoping!) for positive changes this time around. Wednesday is my weigh in day and I plan to briefly share some of my experiences with you each week. This is my second week with a small loss last week.

Am focusing on a realistic long term goal and my only weekly goal is to lose something …. anything ……a loss is a loss and all movement in a positive direction. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself as I usually buckle under pressure and sabotage myself.

This week I haven’t struggled with keeping track of my food / exercise (minimal at present) as I’ve been regularly keeping a food diary for a while however I did struggle with planning and making healthier choices. Early days though so I am not beating myself up.

I am very limited as to what exercise is realistic for me at present however we had a great experience based suggestion from our fill in leader last week who used to go daily to the local shopping centre, grab a trolley and walk around for at least half an hour. I love the idea and I did do this one day this week (in addition to our usual shopping expeditions) however it’s hell for my budget! I came away with a skirt, jumper and having bought myself a cuppa and donuts (which I of course took home to hubby and daughter!) and that was just for 30 minutes in the centre.

 

What fun have you been having this week?

Musing Mondays

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This is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This week I’m musing about ‘what if I am the only one not loving it?’

Do you ever find you are the only one reading something that you just don’t get or that you simply aren’t loving despite the fact that everyone else you know that’s reading it just loves it to bits? This week this has been happening to me – with a particular arc I recently received.  It looked like fun, I was hyped for it…  and then …. I find its just fluff and bubble and while everyone else is finding it lol funny I’ve been lucky to almost crack a smile here and there …. well maybe I am just not in the mood for it at the moment?  It’s Okay-ish don’t get me wrong but EVERYONE else that I know whose reading it has either loved it or is loving it and well I. am. just. not! sooo, I have put it aside – maybe my mood will change – maybe the book will change lol -  I really don’t know what else to do other than accept that maybe it’s just not for me or that I am in some way ‘odd’ – or at least in this case ‘the odd one out’.

Book Review: Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

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Click image to view synopsis on Goodreads

 

Book Title: Lost & Found

Author: Brooke Davis

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Publication Date: 24 June 2014

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

 

4.5 / 5 stars

My Thoughts
Lost and Found is a touching story that is written with delicate humour. It pulled at my heartstrings one minute and had me smiling or laughing the next.

The characters are delightful even the brash, uptight Agatha. My favourite character was Karl who had loved but not really lived and who I could well envision actually living in the department store, manning up to a few drunken adolescents and brawling in an outback pub. Millie was endearing and her ‘I am here Mum’ signs nearly bought tears to my eyes. The ever present one – armed Manny made me smile as I saw him dragged about throughout the trios adventures. Being mistaken for a item of sexual fetish was hilarious.

Millie’s explanations for the way of the world and things were so well written – typically childlike in their simplicity and literalness.

The undertone of the story was of course a serious matter – child abandonment. We don’t meet Millie’s mum – in fact we don’t even learn her name but it is easy to feel both sympathy and anger towards her and to feel indignant at her actions.

The only issue I had with the story was that I didn’t feel the reaction to Millie’s wanderings was realistic. Had this actually happened the authorities would have set up a man hunt and media campaign. Having said that, this was not in any way the focus of the story so can be easily overlooked.

Over all I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lost and Found and I would happily recommend it. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Thanks to Hachette Australia via NetGalley for the review copy.

 

Book Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

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Click image to read synopsis on Goodreads

Book Title: All Fall Down

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 1 July 2014

Source: Courtesy of the Publisher

 

4 / 5 stars

My Thoughts

I have read only one book by Jennifer Weiner before and had put her on my ‘read more by this author’ list, so I was quite excited to receive a copy of All Fall Down.

The story starts with Allison who is a busy wife, mum and successful blogger. Her marriage is strained and her fathers health is deteriorating. Her daughter Ellie is hyper ‘ sensitive’. The pressures of life are mounting and Allison is finding it hard to get through a day without dropping increasingly more Vicodin, Percocet or Oxys.

I like the way Jennifer Weiner writes. It’s a writing style I find comfortable and evenly paced with enough detail to be interesting but not so much that you get bogged down in minutiae. The picture of suburban drug use is well drawn showing the slippery slope from prescription painkillers for physical pain to illegally purchasing these drugs online and needing them just to face the day.

The strength of this book is that the story is relatable. Allison is a character that many of us can probably relate to – a regular suburban working wife and mother with family pressures and demands trying to keep a family functioning and keep a balance between a home and a working life.

Allison’s slide into addiction is truly heartbreaking and offers the warning that this could happen to anyone. I really thought that Ms Weiner wrote the denial aspect of the addict well – Allison could not see herself as an addict; after all she had a relatively comfortable childhood and life unlike other addicts who often came from backgrounds of extreme trauma and abuse and after all she was only doing pills not heroin or the like – yet.

Also well delivered was the powerlessness that friends and family members feel to address the issue of addiction. Not knowing what to do to help it seems as if they chose to turn a blind eye to what was really going on and the degree of the problem. In this way they are in their own form of denial which in turn make it easier for Allison to adopt the attitude that she really did not have a problem or to rationalise the extent of her problem.

I felt there was a warning in this book for women (or men) who strive to do it all and who try and meet everyone else’s needs to the detriment of their own. The sad part of this was that when push came to shove everyone else was in fact able to manage without Allison so we have to question her perception that she was the one who had to keep everything going at all costs and how much of this was actually her need for control rather than a real need on the part of others; or the need for others to choose to rely less on her and step up to the plate themselves.

I would say this is a steady read – it does not have dramatic elements keeping us on our toes – however it tells an uncomfortable, potentially real story of how addiction can insidiously creep up on any of us, and that is in itself at the same time makes it a somewhat unsettling read.

I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from this author.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster for the copy of this book for review.

Book Review: Sand by Hugh Howey

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Click image to view synopsis on Goodreads

 

Book Title: Sand

Author: Hugh Howey

Publisher: Random House UK, Cornerstone

Publication Date: June 5, 2014

Source: Courtesy of the Publisher via NetGalley

 

5 / 5  stars

My Thoughts

I fell in love with Hugh Howey’s world building in Wool. Despite every good intention to follow through with Shift and Dust I find I still have not read them. This is in no way a reflection on Howey’s writing just my poor reading time management. When I was given the opportunity to read / review Sand my response was an immediate “yes please!”. Not knowing at that time whether this was a totally new series or whether it piggybacked on the Wool Omnibus, I was left wondering if it would have been better to read the other two first. I decided on just diving into it (yes, pardon the pun – if you read the book you will understand).

Sand does not disappoint. Again I found Howey’s world building to be brilliantly seductive. Without ‘telling’ you about the world he masterfully pulls you into this dry and blustery world of sand and dunes bit by bit as the story progresses. It really does meet the expectation of the phrase ‘world building”. As I read each chapter the sense of being present in this world built within me until I was completely immersed in it. At times I even fancied I could practically taste the grit of the sand in my mouth as I read of the experience of sand diving.

Admittedly the first few chapters, like many a newly started book, had me wondering what this story was going to be and where it would take me and it seemed a little slow, a feeling that was out of step with my excitement for this book – hence my first impression was that it was not quickly enough getting to it.

Before long however I found myself immersed in the world and the characters. It is however for me, in this book as in Wool, the world building that stands out above all else. (I’m sure you’ve guessed that by now!) The characters are almost secondary and I didn’t really even think much about them until I started writing this review. They are however satisfactory although overshadowed by their environment.

The storyline itself is also satisfying, keeping this reader engaged throughout. As the ending drew imminently near I was getting a bit anxious that it was going to be a completely neat wrap up type ending – and this is not what I was hoping for, nor is it what I got, which was a relief. The ending was solid and complete enough that if you wished, this book which is in fact the first in the Sand Omnibus series, could as easily be read as a standalone.

Another brilliant read from Hugh Howey. I will definitely be making it a priority to finish reading the Wool Omnibus series and eagerly await the next instalment in the Sand Omnibus.

With thanks to Random House UK / Cornerstone and NetGalley  for the copy of this book.