Saturday, 29 January 2011

BOOK NEWS: Ebook revolution accelerates in sales and status

Amazon is reporting Kindle edition sales outstripping paperbacks in the US, and the Booker prize jury is now reading on ebooks


Commuter reads a Kindle
A New York commuter uses a Kindle e-reader. Photograph: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The ebook revolution has swept past two more milestones in its ferocious advance upon the bastions of literary culture. As the Man Booker prize embraces the digital era, the online retail giant Amazon has announced that sales of Kindle editions have overtaken paperbacks in the US.
Publishers entering books for the £50,000 Man Booker prize are now being asked to make all submissions available both as physical books and in digital form. This year's judging panel – which includes writers Susan Hill, Matthew d'Ancona, and politician Chris Mullin as well as the Daily Telegraph's head of books Gaby Wood, and is chaired by former M15 chief Stella Rimington – have been issued with e-readers. The move will help them prepare for the 2011 prize longlist, to be announced in July, without hauling around back-breaking numbers of submissions.
Man Booker administrator Ion Trewin said: "Traditionally we rely on proofs and hard copies, but it seemed to me if publishers were in a position to supply us with electronic downloads any earlier, it would help because time is of the essence. And it gives the judges an alternative. This is what the Kindle will do – it's not going to take over from print, but will offer another way of reading as well." The judges who'd responded to him thus far thought the development was "wonderful", Trewin added.
Meanwhile Amazon, posting its latest financial results, said that so far in 2011 its US wing had sold 120 Kindle ebooks for every 100 paperbacks. "Additionally, during this same time period the company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books," the company said in a statement.

Taken from guardian.co.uk -- click here to read the full article

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

BOOK REVIEW: THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE BY ALAN BRADLEY


Genre: Mystery

Published by: Orion (Feb 2010)

Pages: 358 (Paperback)

My Rating: 9.5/10



THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE BY ALAN BRADLEY

About the Book:

For very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery - especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed. As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle. Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book, it has all the ingredients of a typical English cozy mystery: set in the 1950's, an old crumbling country house in a small village, quirky characters, a mysterious dead body, strange happenings and an amateur sleuth who stumbles upon the clues right under the noses of the local police. Wonderful stuff!

Flavia is a most unusual little girl in some ways; obsessed with chemistry (she has her own lab on the top floor of the old house), she has acute hearing, is old beyond her years, has 2 horrible older sisters who treat her with disdain, and upon whom she likes to conduct experiments without their knowledge!

Her curiosity is first aroused when a dead bird is found on the doorstep and she wonders why her father is so horrified by it, and then a stranger's dead body is found in the cucumber patch, gasping his last words to her, all of which 'sets her mind into a tailspin' and which leads her into danger and excitement by unravelling the clues little by little.

I loved her vivid imagination --

'Fingers of friendship,' he said, whatever that meant.

Fingers of friendship? Had I just been given the secret handshake of some rustic brotherhood that met in moonlit churchyards and hidden copses? Was I now inducted, and would I be expected to take part in unspeakably bloody midnight rituals in the hedgerows? It seemed like an interesting possibility.


Alan Bradley's novel brings perfectly to life an era just after the War when life seemed simpler and slower with his acute observations of people. I laughed, I smiled, I sympathised, I was horrified, I cared about the characters. I was immersed in the story and didn't want it to end.

This is the first in the Flavia de Luce Mysteries and the website with lots more information is here

The 2nd book is called 'The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag' which I shall be reading and reviewing shortly.

The 3rd book in the series is called 'A Red Herring Without Mustard' and is published later this year.

Source: Borrowed from the local library

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

BOOK REVIEW: MORE THAN JUST COINCIDENCE BY JULIE WASSMER



Genre: True Story

Published by: Harper Collins (Sept 2010)

Pages: 271 (Paperback)

My Rating: 9/10




MORE THAN JUST COINCIDENCE BY JULIE WASSMER

About the Book:

The true story of a mother who was reunited with her daughter, 20 years after she gave her up for adoption, in the most incredible of circumstances.
One hot summer day in 1970, teenagee Julie dressed her 10 day old baby daughter for the last time. Then she placed her newborn into a nurse's arms and walked away.
Over the next 20 years the memory of her lost child continued to run, like thread, through the fabric of her life.......until the 5th November 1990.......when their two worlds would collide.

My Thoughts:

What a heart-warming and incredible story this is. There can't be many people who read Julie's story and not have a tear in their eye at the end of it.

Julie Wassmer is a born storyteller and she relays her life story in such an engrossing way that it is very difficult to put down. From her humble beginnings as an only child growing up in the East End of London; she didn't have her own bedroom until the family moved house (she slept on the sofa in the living room); when she was 16 and, unknown to her parents, pregnant with her daughter.

She always knew that one day she would meet her daughter but until then she led a varied and exciting life, travelling the world on a boat, falling in and out of love, never having a place to call her own.

It was an amazing chain of events that would lead to her daughter just walking into her life and I couldn't put this wonderful book down. If you're looking for a true story that's well-written and heart-warming then look no further.

Source: I borrowed this from my local library.




Saturday, 15 January 2011

BOOK REVIEW: LONG REACH BY PETER COCKS


Genre: YA Thriller

Published by: Walker Books (Jan 2011)

Pages: 416 (Paperback)

My Rating: 8.5/10





LONG REACH BY PETER COCKS

About the Book: (Taken from the blurb at the back of the book)

Eddie Savage makes two shocking discoveries in quick succession.
One: his brother, Steve, has been working undercover for the police.
Two: Steve is dead.
Eddie refuses to believe that his hero elder brother killed himself, and there's only one way to find out the truth: follow in his footsteps.

My Thoughts:

First Line:

"We found him face down in the mud at Long Reach"

When 17 year old Eddie learns about his brother's untimely death and is offered the chance to work undercover for an organisation who "operate somewhere in the gap between the police and the more covert government agencies" he doesn't hesitate. Especially when he has to 'get to know' the pretty teenage daughter of the local ruthless killer and psychotic crime lord and try to infiltrate their notorious gang!

This is a real Boys Own adventure story with a likeable hero in Eddie Savage, beautiful but possibly dangerous women with a thrilling storyline and murderous gangsters.

There was a good pace to the story, a nice steady build up in suspense, with good characterisations.

A compelling and exciting read, recommended for readers aged 14+


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Beauty Care Product Review: A'KIN PURE MAN CALMING AFTERSHAVE BALM


This review is by my husband as he has been using the A'kin After Shave Balm for the past few weeks.

Negative comments: The smell! I really didn't like it when I first applied it but it got slightly better as time went on.

Positive comments: Very easy to rub in and it absorbs very quickly. Not at all greasy. It didn't irritate my skin at all and my face felt soft afterwards. Overall, I was very happy with it.

This is available from mypure in a 75ml bottle for £10.99. A free sample is available on their website here

Mypure is Britain's most reviewed organic beauty store ........ check it out for lots of special offers. Everything they sell is sulfate free, paraben free and phthalate free.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Beauty Care Product Review: LOVEA BIO ARGAN DETANGLING LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER SPRAY


My hair is straight and shoulder length and, after washing, it is sometimes very difficult to comb through as it's full of tangles. I've been using this Lovea detangler and leave-in conditioner from mypure recently and I really love it! Though it doesn't get rid of ALL the tangles it does enough to make it easier to comb out.


I sprayed it all over my wet hair, though it can also be used on dry hair. I then combed it through very easily. I didn't need to use a huge amount to make my hair look shinier and feel softer.

The bottle is small enough to put in your luggage when you go away.

As the description on mypure says "it's a real tonic for dull and fly away hair!" I certainly wouldn't disagree with that.

It is available in a 125ml bottle for £5.49.

Everything sold by mypure is sulfate free, paraben free & phthalate free.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

BOOK REVIEW: A SEASON TO REMEMBER BY SHEILA O'FLANAGAN



Genre: Contemporary Fiction


Published by: Headline (Oct 2010)

Pages: 311 (Hardback)

My Rating: 8.5/10





A SEASON TO REMEMBER BY SHEILA O'FLANAGAN


My Thoughts:

This is a lovely collection of short stories all based around the people staying at the Sugar Loaf Lodge in Ireland over Christmas.

They all have their own personal reasons for staying there and we learn from their back stories just what that reason is. We meet an assortment of people, including the husband and wife owners who have money worries, a young girl who is on her own having made an unwise choice in her life, stressed out couples, long time friends, unhappy families, and many more who have all chosen this beautiful hotel nestled in the picturesque Irish mountains.

Some of the people interact with each other during their time away but most of them are stand alone stories.

I've only read one other book by Sheila O'Flanagan which was Anyone But Him and I thought a nice touch was that several characters from that book are featured in this one!

This is a lovely feel good book, you don't have to read it at Christmas time as their back stories are not based on the holiday season but I started reading it on Christmas Eve sat in front of a warm fire and it all added to the lovely wintry seasonal feel.

Sheila O'Flanagan's website can be found here

I won this book on Twitter from Headline Publishers just before Christmas, so a huge thanks to them for picking me! Their Twitter ID is @headlinepg




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