Archive | April 2012

Breaking the Ice by Mandy Baggot

For Mandy Baggot fans, the 3rd May has been marked down in diaries as the date her new book, Taking Charge is released! To tide over the anticipation of this event, I decided to download the last of her books I haven’t read – Breaking the Ice! Dancing on Ice fans, this is definitely one you have to pick up.

Meet our heroine Samantha, London based, almost West End box office assistant, at Civic Hall. Slightly neurotic, uber efficient and  overwhelmed by social situations. She’s been working at Civic Hall for the last 5 years, is committed to  her job, loves the history behind where she works, the shows and not to forget the regulars.

Meet the hero, Jimmy Lloyd, once a gold medallist ice skater, now on tour with “Skating on Broadway” (playing at the Civic Hall) and a recovering alcoholic.

The dilemma: unbeknownst to the motley crew at the Civic Hall, the local council’s Art budget isn’t big enough to keep 2 entertainment venues open in the same area. Could this be the end of Civic Hall? Can Jimmy help “Sam” to save her second home?

The book opens with Samantha stuck in her work freezer, surrounded by 4000 tubs of Berry Fruits ice cream, courtesy of her incompetent boss, Dave. We quickly learn that despite her title, Samantha has many hats on at work, which leaves her with little time for herself. There is quite a lot of comparison to/history about  her older sister Chloe – her opposite; blonde, outgoing and the a bit of a sexual predator. I’m not sure how necessary that was to the story, as we learn more about Chloe as we go on anyway, but once I got past what was an initial hiccup for me, I really got into the story. I loved the subtle introduction of the two main characters to each other, their time on the ice and how they helped each other out. Samantha’s character definitely evolves throughout the book and could it be that Jimmy is much more boy next door than the tabloids would have you believe? As usual Mandy manages to intersperse her writing with humour (how many times have you used a mannequin as a battering ram, sober?) and once again managed to include an unexpected twist to the story. Without giving too much away, as reunions go this wasn’t what I was expecting and I loved how the scene surprised me.

I’m not sure why this was Mandy’s book I left to last. Growing up in the 80s, I love the romance around ice skating, Torvil and Dean and getting my yearly fix of Dancing on Ice. I’ve even donned the skates myself and taken a couple of classes! I’m glad I finally round to it though and for those of you missing DOI, look no further, this book has enough lean bodies, leotards, sequins and blindfolds (!?!) to keep you hot, hot, hot until next season!

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One I Missed Earlier

Paulo Coehlo is one of my favourite authors and if I’d seen this earlier I’d have added it to my ‘Introducing Book Trailers‘ post earlier. Aleph is on my TBR list for sure!

Introducing Book Trailers

I’ve only just discovered book trailers this week – yes that’s right! I too am asking myself which rock I’ve been hiding under. Authors seem to use them for different reasons; mainly to tell you about the release date of their new title or just like a film trailer, to give you a teaser and entice you to buy their book. My first book trailer was this one announcing publication day for Victoria Connelly’s The Runaway Actress.

I came across this one on The Sweet Bookshelf’s blog. She’s posted a UK giveaway for Legend by Marie Lu. This trailer is different, futuristic and techie (like a video game). I really enjoyed it and definitely made me want to read the book.

My last trailer offering is again slightly different and was posted on Sarah Pekkanen’s website. It’s for Skipping a Beat – her first book. I love the premise so I’ve bought myself a copy (coming all the way from the US of A!)

What are your thoughts on trailers? Do you watch them? Do they help you decide whether you’ll give a book a go? What kind of trailers do you like and do you have a favourite? Is so I’d love to hear from you.

What Influences Your Choices?

I grew up reading Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables and the Shoes books. My pre-teen choices were influenced greatly by books my mum bought me, we read in school or that were suggested by older cousins. Things changed when I went to middle school; I graduated to Nancy Drew and the Point books. Slowly I was being influenced by what my friends were reading. In Year 8, I can clearly remember a contraband copy of Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews being passed around a class of 28 girls. For a whole term we were all intrigued  by Chris and Cathy’s incestuous relationship! So who or what is responsible for my foray into the world of romance and chick lit? That would be my friend Anna. Being a “bigger” girl, she could pass as a 16 year old from as early as 12, which gave her a definite advantage when it came to taking library books out. She lent me my first Mills & Boon, introduced me to historical romance (I think I was the only person to have read the entire Jean Plaidy collection in our school library) and in my mind is to blame for me getting caught by a sub reading a Barbara Cartland under my desk in Maths (my first and my last!). My swooning days however, came to an abrupt halt during my A Levels when I discovered the likes of John Grisham and William Bernhardt. It wasn’t until a friend gave me a copy of Gone With the Wind as a birthday present that I realised I missed dashing heroes and beautiful, feisty heroines. Cue the authors that have become the staples on my book shelves; Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Carole Matthews.

Until recently I’ve stuck to reading what I know, or books recommended by friends. 6 months ago that changed when I joined a book club. Suddenly I’m reading things I would never have looked twice at like Terry Pratchet and Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Twitter has opened my eyes still further – I’m no longer just taking recommendations from close friends or The Times Bestseller list. Now I’m connecting with other like minded people around the world – tweeting about my purchases, reading blogs, learning the lingo and watching book trailers! In the last week alone I’ve discovered 2 keepers; Kim Izzo (you can see my review on her debut novel below) and Mandy Baggot (I’ve sad 3 of hers already!)

So what influences your choice in reading and has this changed over time? Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

New Offerings

The downsizing continues, and given the success of the Homeless PlayStation, I have some new offerings on Amazon Marketplace. Check out the slideshow and see if anything tickles your fancy. For more information, click on the link to Kitabi’s store page on Amazon.

Meg Cabot

So I’ve just joined Goodreads.com and was adding books to my bookshelf. I came across Meg Cabot’s page – I had no idea she’d written both a Heather Wells and Queen of Babble series. I’ve read the first in each and remember enjoying them, but also feeling a little disappointed that she hadn’t written more adult books. Well it seems that thats all changed. More to add to my to-read list 🙂

Freedom

Check out artist Maher Zain – love this song. He wrote this during the Arab Spring and specifically dedicated it to the people of Syria. Oppression goes on worldwide. We are truly blessed but let’s spare a thought for people who don’t have the same Freedom as we do.

Homeless PlayStation

Growing up I would probably have been described as a little geeky. But having a talent with numbers and a somewhat photographic memory wasn’t always considered cool. For some reason I thought the ‘cool’ factor could be provided by computer games (what was I thinking?!), so when it came to birthdays a games console would be top of my list. My persistent requests were however ignored repeatedly. So I thought I’d try a diffract tact and suggest said item when it came to my brother’s birthday. My parents were nothing if not fair and therefore a splurge on one child would be mean a similar splurge on the other. Can you see where I thought I was going with this? Lo and behold it backfired on me – my brother got a nintendo in his early teens. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I got my first PlayStation – the original BIG grey one. Now I’m no gamer but I tried to make it ‘my thing’, and during my second degree even upgraded to a slimline PlayStation 2. Unfortunately fancy gadgets alone don’t make you good at something. I seem to be unable to shoot, jump and run at the same time. I feel like you need more than the number of fingers God gave you and surely thumbs were not made to be jabbing at things so quickly! Sure enough the gadgets soon lost their lustre  and were pushed to the back of the cupboard.

So, after a long pre-amble let me get to the crux of this post. My poor games consoles have been gathering dust for awhile and downsizing means getting rid. Last weekend I decided to bite the bullet and list both my PlayStations on eBay. Seemed easy enough and there where no listing fees – bonus! The slimline PlayStation 2 sold (yay!) but for just under a quarter of what I paid. The Original is however still looking for a loving home. If you can provide one, check out the new listing on Amazon Marketplace by seller kitabi.

It’s a classic and you won’t go a miss. Big Bang Theory Fans, please don’t hate me but I opened the box! The listing comes with console, controller and all the necessary wiring. And it’s from a smoke free, pet free home. Happy Shopping!

And for an update on my gaming life…now a days I’ve discovered my style is much more Wii.

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman of thirty-nine and in possession of a good complexion must be in want of  a good husband. And a baby. Unless you are me.” 

Kim Izzo’s debut novel opens with a brief introduction to our heroine Kate on her wedding day, flash back 6 months and the story begins, with the above quote – a twist on the infamous beginning of Pride & Prejudice. Are you hooked yet? Wait it gets better…

Kate, acting beauty editor (she’s the one that gets called in when someone goes on maternity leave), comes from a line of women who’ve never been able to depend on men. So, in order to avoid betrayal and disappointment, she’s schooled herself into believing she doesn’t need all that! Unfortunately, due to a series of events, Kate’s plans for an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle gets pulled out from underneath her.  The broke, homeless (ok so she sleeps on her sister’s couch) and somewhat disappointed heroine needs to re-strategise. Opportunity comes a knocking when she is asked to write a freelance article based on whether or not she can find a rich man to marry using Austen’s rules.

So like Kate I love all things Austen, although my copies are possibly not as well thumbed as hers and I’ve never had the opportunity to lay my hands on a first edition! The title alone, was therefore enough to pique my interest. A beautiful cover, great writing and the modern twist on the ultimate Austen dilemma (a suitable marriage) had me devouring this gem like chocolate cake. Despite rationed reading time between “revision”, my time with Kate was over before I knew it. And despite her being a decade older than me, Kate was easy to empathise with. I loved her tenacity, elegance and humour.

It’s a little while before we get introduced to the Darcy-esque hero, but it’s well worth the wait. I have to say I think he had just the right amount of gruffness to keep you rooting for him. And as heroes go he was always around when he needed to be!

Kim Izzo brings you the modern day Austen heroine with all the trimmings. There are plenty of exotic characters; a Southern Belle, a swarthy stable hand and Scottish Colonel to name a few. High jinx and hilarity swiftly follow. Two words: cow condom! So, does Kate find her rich husband? Does she fall in love? Or will she be played at her own game? Read The Jane Austen Marriage Manual to find out more.