You Are Lovely

My friend Sara from A Flutterby In Stitches recently nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award!

proper-one-lovely-blog-award I started this blog for a couple of reasons. Firstly I read a lot. Always have. But I wanted to challenge myself to start thinking more about the books I read, and putting it out there in a coherent fashion seemed like a good way to ensure I give it a red hot go.

Secondly not many of my friends read as much as I do, and I like talking about the books I read! Or at least recommending the ones I like to people who will (hopefully) appreciate it.

Thirdly, as a bit of an escape from work. I’m a nurse educator, and my workday can be intense, out of control, and just plain BUSY.

For this award I need to tell you 7 things about myself.

1. My commute to work is a 2 hour round trip on the train, which is great because I get to read 🙂

2. My newest hobby is making my own soy candles. I can lose an entire afternoon playing around with colours and scents, and I love finding interesting jars, cups, tins to put candles in, and I love giving homemade gifts

3. Along with novels, I’m also addicted to chocolate

4. My natural hair colour is medium brown, but I colour it cherry red.

5. I am an introvert. My mood (and fatigue levels) dictate how strongly those tendencies come out

6. I can’t function on minimal sleep. At all. Despite being a total night owl, the fact that I have to get up early for work means that I’m in bed by 9:30 usually. Yikes, hello Grandma…

7. My favourite wine is Moscato. Usually Brown Brothers

I’ve only been writing this blog for a short time, so I’m still just starting to make contact with others! In view of this, I’m nominating 2 blogs for this award:

Mary from Bookfan – I love reading her reviews and looking at her new book purchases!

Hannah from So Obsessed With – Her thoughts on book related topics are interesting and well written. Plus, I loved her obsession post on following and commenting habits. Glad I’m not the only one wondering how it all works and how other bloggers do it!

Books That Have Made Me Cry

So I’m a cry baby. Such a wimp. I cry every time I watch “Beaches”. Every damn time. Geez, I shed a tear at the end of “Mona Lisa Smile”. Why? No idea.  But for some reason, it takes a little more for a book to make me cry. Not for it to trigger emotions, but to actually induce tears? Maybe it’s the visual of movies vs. the use of my imagination required for books. I don’t know. But anyway, I thought I’d put this out there. These are some books that have made me cry. Real actual tears. Or at least tear.

Crying

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – OMG. So innocent. A little boy making friends. That’s all. With no concern for culture, nationality, religion… He just wanted a friend. Nothing else matters. And it shouldn’t. Read it. But keep the tissues close. This will break the hardest of hearts.

Go Ask Alice – I loved this book. A first person account of drug addiction, from her diary. And it just… ends. If you can get your hands on a copy of this book, read it. A unique perspective.

Me Before You – What happened to Will, his life changed in a split second. And now, the fact that his life is not what he wanted, or expected… and he has the balls enough to make a decision. May not be the one everyone else wants him to make, but it’s his. It’s real. And Lou, trying to change his mind. Trying to show him that he can still enjoy life, even though it’s different. TEARS.

Marley and Me – I’m not an animal person. I’m not a pet person. I just – Marley is part of the family! Doesn’t matter if you’re an animal person, Marley will get you. Well, he got me, anyways.

A Child Called It – Children should NOT be abused. Well. No one should be abused, but kids?

The Lovely Bones – Told from the perspective of Susie Salmon (RIP), from heaven, watching the fallout of her murder on her family. That’s enough to get me going. You?

My Sisters Keeper – Maybe because I am a nurse, and I work in bone marrow transplant. I love this book, but damn, it sucks. Cancer can just go to hell. Especially when it comes to kids. This one just tore my heartstrings. Ripped them apart. The cancer. The relationship between Kate and Anna, Kate and Taylor, the family stuff, what Kate is going through, what Anna is going through. What Sara is going through. It’s. All. Shit. Cancer bites.  NB: I hate the movie. They changed stuff. Like THE PLOT. Read the book. Just – read the book.

The Book Thief – Burning books. The treatment of Jews. Death as a narrator? Love. But tears.

PS I Love You – Holly’s husband Gerry dies. She’s devastated. But he’s anticipated this. And leading up to his (expected) death, he organised letters for her, to help her get over her loss of him. So sweet. So sad.

What books have you read that have triggered an emotional response? Are you as emotional as me – do you cry at books?

Tagged

The delightful Sara from Musings of a FlutterbyBear tagged me in her recent post ‘You Can’t Catch Me… ner… oh…’ What fun!

This is a blogging version of tag. In my opinion much more fun than the running around kind we used to play at school, because I get to tell you about me, and then tag some others to join in the fun!

So here goes. As with all good games, there are rules…

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

 

Me... circa... 2007?

Eleven random facts about me…

I am a nurse educator in cancer nursing

I love to read (duh – so I’ll give you more). Predominantly fiction, but I do enjoy a good memoir or biography. I mainly read on my commute to work, and in bed at night.

I am currently trying to grow tomatoes in my back yard. Almost there I think!

Favourite TV series – Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy

I make my own soy candles

I can knit, crotchet, and cross stitch

I have one sister and two brothers

I really dislike public speaking. Unfortunate as it is a not entirely small part of my job.

I have an addiction to hand cream & lip balm

I like to bake but I don’t do it that often (as I also like to eat…)

I have 3 best friends, another 10 or so close friends, and LOTS of acquaintances. I have lots of groups of friends. BUT, I am a major introvert.

 

Now, the questions Sara set for me –

1. If you could have lunch with anyone present, past, future, real or fictional who would you choose? I don’t know! The mind boggles. I’m quite bad at making decisions… Hmm, I’d love to chat to Chrissie Swan. I reckon she’d be good for a laugh. Reid from Criminal Minds and Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. I reckon that would be amusing. And Kathy Reichs, Matthew Reilly & Kerry Greenwood. Oh, and I’d have to bring my mum. How big is my lunch table??

2. What would you want to talk to them about? I’d like to talk to Chrissie about absolutely anything, watch Sheldon implode while arguing with talking to Reid, and Kathy, Matthew and Kerry about writing, their books and how they develop their characters, their consistency and longevity as authors…

3. What is your favourite colour? Blue, aqua, green, and purple. I get more than one, right?

4. Sweet or savoury? Sweet. All the way. This is a problem.

5.What are the top 3 things on your bucket list? Hmm. This is a tough one. I want to travel – at the moment specifically London and Ireland, and I want to do the Ghan up the guts of Australia. I want to own my own home. Preferably sooner rather than later. And I want to read War and Peace.

6. How is your day going? Much better now that I’m at home. There’s a bit of a flu outbreak at work, taking out lots of our staff…!

7. If you had unlimited resources what would you do? Pay my parent’s mortgage off, buy my own home, help my siblings out however they wish, and work with/help out cancer research and cancer foundations there to assist patients & families. Oh, and fix this current Health Budget disaster.

8. Who would you cast as yourself in a movie about you? I love Rachel McAdams characters – honesty, integrity, humour. And she’s gorgeous 🙂

9. Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? Toss up between chocolate and vanilla.

10. Why is it so hot today? Australian summer is like that.

11. What’s the last thing you watched at the cinema? Les Miserables. And I LOVED IT. I cried… a couple of times.

 

Now, 11 questions for my tagees

1. Favourite movie

2. What is your drink of choice when reading?

3. What would you love for your next birthday?

4. Next book you plan to buy

5. Your absolute indulgence comfort food

6. How do you get to work?

7. Luxury beauty item you always splurge on

8. Facial/massage, or mani/pedi?

9. When reading a series do you go all out in a row, or break in between?

10. Grocery shopping – love or hate?

11. What is your favourite way to relax?

 

Now, I’m new-ish to this blogging thing, and have yet to make many blogging friends! In an effort to change this, I’m tagging the girls at two of my favourite blogs to read 🙂

Amy at Bottled Beauty

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend

Author: Sarra Manning

Transworld, 2012, Random House

 

Back Cover

Hope Delafield hasn’t always had an easy life.

She has red hair, and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can’t wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn’t exactly the ob she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.

At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He’s sweet, kind, funny, as a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he’s pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they’re still totally in love. Totally. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie…

Does true love forgive and forget?

Or does it get mad… and get even?

 

 

Hope and Jack have been together forever. Thirteen years. Half their lives. And they’ve known each other even longer – their parents are neighbours and live in each others pockets.

Hope is a stress head. She hates heights – can’t even stand on the bottom rung of a step ladder (wimp). Jack does all the home maintenance. Hope does the cooking – and Jack nags her to clean up along the way. Jack is a snooze fiend, and Hope is regularly late for work due to dragging him out of bed. She yells, screams and goes on the attack, he is the king of the silent treatment. Hope doesn’t even know how to put songs on her ipod – Jack won’t let her do it. (Really?? You’re 26. Your boyfriend won’t LET you program your own ipod? And you let him forbid you?)

 

Then at a fancy dinner party Hope had planned and put together, she catches Jack making out with her best friend Susie. (Seriously. At home. While Hope is there. At HER party. And oh yeah, with Susie’s boyfriend Wilson there too. Of all the stupid choices. Methinks someone wanted to get caught.) This all happens in the first 40 pages of the novel.  Their parents want them together. Hope wants them together. She LOVES him. They go to couples therapy. On top of this, her mother’s theme is ‘What did you do wrong?’ ‘Brush your hair – you know it tangles’ and ‘Gosh, you’ve put on weight’. Excellent. Thanks Mum.

 

Her friends think she’s crazy. Her colleagues think she’s crazy. Wilson thinks she’s crazy. But she LOVES him. They’re meant to be together. Over the next 400-odd pages we watch Hope almost come to her senses a few times, before going back to the ‘But I love him, we’re meant to be together’, despite her friends, and the fact that she keeps running into Wilson, who is clearly developing a thing for her. To the point where I was nervous Hope would finally decide to drop Jack, and jump straight into long term relationship number 2 with no pause to take a breath.

 

**SPOILER ALERT**

 

It is not until page 462 that Hope finally quits begging Jack to take her back, and believing him when he says he’ll never see Susie again. Then he proposes in the car on the way home to their parents’ places for Christmas. Finally gets what she’s wanted the whole time, and THEN she realises that this isn’t actually what she wants and leaves(finally letting HIM deal with the parents who desperately want them together. With grandkids.) And paints the kitchen. Changes a lightbulb. Gets a haircut. And FINALLY gets off with Wilson.

 

My Thoughts

 

I’ll say straight out, I was disappointed with this book (in case you missed that). I really wanted to like it – I’ve read a few of Sarra Manning’s books now and enjoyed them all – but I just couldn’t. I found this one really frustrating. I get that we were going for a different spin on ‘boy and girl happy. Boy cheats on girl. Girl leaves boy. Girl gets new hot boy. Boy number 1 learns from his mistakes but sadly too late to get girl back.’

I started out feeling sorry for Hope. But she just kept taking him back. And thinking it was going to end well. And then she got REALLY whiny.

 

I just really felt like we kept going around in the same circle. Didn’t massively like the ending either. Elements of the ending could have worked on their own, but all together it just felt a little too unbelievable, especially after all that Jack and Susie put Hope through.

 

I will stay on the Sarra Manning bandwagon – although I didn’t like this story, I still like her writing style. And I like her other books. Guess you can’t win them all.

 

Have you read Nine Uses? Have you read any other Sarra Manning books? What are your thoughts?

NYPD Red

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

 

Title: NYPD Red

Author: James Patterson & Marshall Karp

Random House, 2012, Century

 

Back Cover

LIGHTS

It’s the start of the Hollywood on Hudson film festival, and New York City is swept up in the glamour. There’s a red carpet premiere every night; the most exclusive restaurants are filled with wealthy producers and pre-eminent directors; and thousands of fans gather with the paparazzi, hoping to catch a glimpse of the most famous and beautiful faces in the world. With so many celebrities in town, special task force NYPD Red is on high alert – and it can’t afford to make a single mistake.

CAMERA

Then a world-renowned producer fatally collapses at his power breakfast, and top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan is the first one on the scene. Zach works with his beautiful new partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald – who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend – to discover who the killer might be. But this is only the beginning: the most brutal, public, and horrifyingly spectacular crimes they’ve ever encountered are about to send all of New York into chaos, putting NYPD Red on the ropes.

EXECUTION

Zach and Kylie know there’s no way of telling what a killer this deranged will do next. With the whole world watching, they have to find a way to stop a psychopath who has scripted his finale down to the last explosive detail

 

MY THOUGHTS

The story is about the Chameleon. The eternal extra who decides to make everyone else pay for his lack of career, because clearly it’s their fault. Obviously. Duh. Couldn’t have anything to do with his lack of talent, or that it’s really hard to become a leading actor, or, I don’t know, the fact that he’s crazy. So he throws the cops off the scent by wearing costumes when he kills people (Yep. Chameleon.) There’s a girlfriend / try-hard-helper. There’s the explosives dude. There’s the cops always hot on the heels but just that split second behind. There’s ex-lovers. There’s the love triangle. There’s enough to keep it moving with a couple of different plot threads, but not so much that you get lost and can’t remember who’s doing what with whom.

I really enjoy James Patterson’s books. I love that they are easy reads – I usually fly through them in about 2 days, and they don’t require lots of concentration. I only have to concentrate for 2 minutes at a time. Love! Not great for my rep, but at the end of a long day sometimes that’s all I can manage… I can read them when I’m exhausted and have absolutely no attention span left.  They’re fast paced and there’s always something happening, so I’m kept engaged and entertained. Short chapters. I love short chapters! Makes me feel like I’m reading faster, so I read more at once. “Just one more chapter” I tell myself. “Just 15 more chapters” more like it. All of a sudden I’ve been reading for 2 hours, I’ve got 10 chapters left, and I may as well just finish it off, right? Right?? Right. Glad we agree.

 

Have you read NYPD Red? Are you a fan of James Patterson? Do you read crime fiction? 

Cross Stitch

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Cross Stitch

Series: Outlander #1

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Random House, 1991, Arrow Books

Back Cover

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century – and a lover is another…

In 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands, and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds. 

A wartime nurse, Claire can deal with the bloody wounds that face her. But it is harder to deal with the knowledge that she is in Jacobite Scotland and the carnage of Culloden is looming. Marooned amid the passion and violence, the superstition, the shifting allegiances and the fervent loyalties, Claire is in danger from Jacobites and Redcoats – and from the shock of her own desire for James Fraser, a gallant and courageous young Scots warrior. Jamie shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire, and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. 

On her second honeymoon, Claire goes for a walk in the Scottish highlands, and accidentally finds herself transported 200 years back in time. She finds herself in the middle of a war, not sure who to trust. No one knows who she is, where she’s come from. After an initial suspicion she is a prostitute, she proves herself as a good healer. Seems lucky that she is a nurse with a side interest in botany and knows all the useful properties of plants, helping to prove herself as a physician.

She finds herself drawn to Jamie Fraser, and for mutually beneficial reasons, they end up together. Their journey continues, they fall deeply in love, then Jamie goes off fighting and gets caught by the Redcoats (This is a REALLY simplified overview.) Can Claire get him out? What’s going to happen next? Will she stay? Will she make her way back to 1945?

My Thoughts 

I found this book quite slow to start, so it took me a while to get into it. I mean, come on. It’s close to 900 pages. The first 300 or so were… background. Setting the scene. Not a whole lot happening. But. AFTER that? I fell, hard and fast, for Jamie Fraser. Not too many books have affected me like that. Sure, many leading men make you wish you lived in fiction land, but they also have characteristics I don’t like so much, or they’re a bit ‘meh’, or one dimensional, or too perfect. And I forget about them once I’ve finished the book. But Jamie? Perfect. Rough around the edges, macho and all for saving face among the men, but in private so so so sweet and so innocent! Chivalrous, funny, strong, and honest. I found him so much more attractive, in so many ways, than Frank (the husband).

Claire…. Claire. I liked her, but there were things about her that just, plainly, irritated me. Sometimes, the way she acted was just so immature. There were times I really didn’t like her at all. But we got there in the end.

This book can be pretty graphic, and pretty brutal. There are descriptions of beatings – there are scenes where Jamie tells Claire about his childhood, and things that he’s been through in the past. There is a scene where Claire gets them into danger, and to ensure she doesn’t do it again, Jamie beats her. She hates this, but luckily so does he, and promises not to do it again. I really struggled with this, did a whole “oh no he didn’t! She’d better kick his ass outta there.” But I have to remember the time setting, and the historical accuracies, and I eventually got over it. Late in the book, Jamie gets caught and thrown in prison. He is tortured (by Frank’s ancestor, no less), brutally tortured. That one’s hard to read. Very descriptive, and when Jamie’s telling Claire about it afterwards – there were tears. I felt everything that had happened to him.

OK Chelsea, stop rambling.

It took me years to get around to reading this book, partly because there are so many of them. Now I’ve started, I’ve set myself on the roller coaster I need a couple of books breather, then I’ll hook into the next instalment!

Have you read Cross Stitch? I’d definitely recommend it if you like a good mix of action and romance.

Chocolat

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: Chocolat

Author: Joanne Harris

My Edition Published by Black Swan, 2007 – Original by Doubleday, 1999

Back Cover

We came on the wind of the carnival.

When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud denounces her as a serious moral danger to his flock – especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self denial.

As passions flare and the conflict escalates, the whole community takes sides. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the sinful pleasure of a chocolate truffle?

The story starts out as Vianne and her daughter Anouk arrive into Lansquenet – “We came on the wind of the carnival” and decide to stay. She feels she can do some good here. After she opens a chocolate shop, she starts to befriend people in the town and helps to start to bridge the gap between some of the transient gypsies and the somewhat intolerant priest and a few of his more loyal followers. Over 2 months, she starts to encourage the townspeople to live their lives more outside of the church rules, and open themselves more against rigid intolerances.

As Easter approaches – through Lent – Vianne tempts the townspeople with her decadent chocolates. She knows everyone’s favourites! She and Anouk decide to plan a chocolate festival – Easter eggs and chocolate galore! However, Father Reynaud doesn’t like this and feels it is a personal attack on himself and his religion.

My Thoughts 

I read this as part of my book club. I enjoyed the whimsical nature of this book. I found it quite easy to read, it was well written and the story flows nicely. I like that Harris writes this book from both sides – the majority of the book is written from Vianne’s perspective, but there are also chapters interspersed from the priest – Francis Reynaud.

There is something a little bit magical about this book. First of all, why it’s taken me this long to actually read, I don’t know. A book all about chocolate? Right up my alley! And I liked that she uses the chocolate to break down the barriers, to draw people out of themselves and socialise.

But I also liked the honesty of the book. Armande is a character who likes Vianne from the start – relates to her. Her relationship with her daughter, and grandson explores a little about family issues and remaining true to yourself. She befriends the gypsies – Roux, Blanche & Zezette.

We didn’t really have too much to say about this one, we all enjoyed it. Found it easy to read, well written, a nice story. I do want to read the next instalment, too – “The Lollipop Shoes”.

Have you read them? What did you think?

Next Book Club book is “Past The Shallows” by Favel Parrett. Have a read and tell me what you think!