Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Jackie Collins, Sinners & Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls

As promised - I've managed to finish one of my draft posts, sorry for being such a flaky blogger.

I read Valley of the Dolls last month but I thought it made sense to review it alongside Sinners as they are both similar.

Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls, Sinners, Jackie Collins, book review, book cover, comparison, trashy, pulp, sex and scandal, Hollywood, bonkbuster, photo

The Plot (Valley of the Dolls) Anne, Neely and Jennifer are young and beautiful and trying to make it in the entertainment industry, Anne as a model, Neely as a singer and Jennifer as an actress. They become friends, when they are naive and idealistic, but the depravity of Hollywood begins to effect their relationships, appearance and self-worth. The higher they climb, the more they sacrifice. 

The Plot (Sinners) Sunday Simmons is on her way to stardom, but she is struggling the maintain her integrity, as directors push her into performing nude scenes. Charlie is a leading man, featuring in popular comedies, but his private life is a mess; his ex-wife is remarrying, so distract himself he is sleeping with multiple wannabe actresses. Herbert is a chauffeur to the stars, he also likes to send them anonymous explicit post and has started to target Sunday. 

Rating: Valley of the Dolls, 4/5. Sinners 2.5/5 

what I've read this month (March)

Time for my monthly round up:-

  1. Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip 
  2. Kitty Hart-Moxon, Return to Auschwitz  (non-fiction)
  3. Jackie Collins, Sinners 
  4. Mary Roach, Stiff  (non-fiction)
  5. George R.R Martin Game of Thrones (re-read)
  6. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on a Train 
mini review under the cut:-

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The British Museum

I had a half day of annual leave yesterday (plus I'm off for the rest of the week) so I treated myself to a jolly around London doing a few of my favourite things. I got a hair cut, ate a ridiculous amount of Korean food (at Bibimbap, 37 Museum Street) and visited The British Museum.

The Egyptian mummies tend to grab all the glory, in fairness the displays are fantastic, but they are also very overcrowded. I wandered in for a quick look and was soon irritated by the hordes of inconsiderate school groups. Thankfully the museum has plenty of interesting exhibitions that were practically deserted.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip

This was the first book I read this month and I'm only just now reviewing it. Partly because I've been busy, partly because I'm lazy and partly because it wasn't a book that I read and then immediately felt the need to share with anyone. 

It is overall average and I can't say it's made a memorable impression on me, a couple of weeks after reading and I'm having to struggle to remember the details. 

Lloyd Jones, Mister Pip, Bouganville, paperback, book review, fiction

The Plot: Matilda is a young girl living in Bougainville, during the island's struggle for independence. Civil war and the blockade have drastic consequences for Matilda and her classmates, their education is disrupted until Mr Watts becomes the self-appointed teacher of their tiny school. Mr Watts is the last remaining white man, he was previously mocked for his eccentric appearance and behaviour, but the students begin to appreciate his efforts as he teaches them the best he can using the only textbook they have - Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. 

Rating: 3/5 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

library haul

Quite a small haul compared to my usual standards, but I only really popped in quickly to pick up some books that I'd reserved:-

  1. Save Me the Waltz, Zelda Fitzgerald - I've been waiting for this book for so long! I think I ordered it in the summer of last year, or maybe even before that. F.Scott gets all the glory in the Fitzgerald family, but apparently he not only used Zelda as a muse but also stole ideas from her. After reading Flappers by Judith Mackrell I became really intrigued about Zelda, she was the 'it girl' of her generation, and I want to see if she had any substance. Save Me the Waltz is about a glamorous aspiring ballerina. 
  2. Stiff, Mary Roach - I read Gulp at the end of last year and found it to be equal parts disgusting and fascinating, this time Roach is taking a humorous and curious look at cadavers. From those who donate their bodies to medical science, to cannibalism to dead bodies used as crash test dummies, this promises to be just a grossly fascinating. 
  3. Sinners, Jackie Collins - I might be a little bit too ashamed to read this one on the tube. It is described on the back as a 'jungle of lust and perversity, greed and ambition'. I'm hoping its going to be just as fabulously trashy as Valley of the Dolls

Monday, 16 March 2015

Kitty Hart-Moxon, Return to Auschwitz

When I was at school I had the great privilege to meet Josef Pearl, a survivor of the holocaust, (Faces in the Smoke  is his biography). I don't think it's until you read, or hear the testimonies told by survivors themselves that you can even slightly comprehend the horrors of the death camps.

 Return to Auschwitz is the autobiography of Kitty Hart-Moxon, who managed to live through unimaginable cruelty and barbarism of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Return to Auschwitz, review, Kitty Hart-Moxon, autobiography, holocaust, survivor, paperback

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

C J Sansom, Lamentation

C J Sansom's Tudor mystery series always end up on the best sellers list when they come. They are both popular, and well received by critiques and he is highly regarded as an author of historical fiction. Can't help but think he gets more respect that authors of the genre as he as in man in a category dominated by women... but that's a whole other argument and this is meant to be a review post.

C J Sansom, Lamentation, book review, 6, Shardlake series, Tudor, Historical fiction, book review, hardback, book cover, religious reform, Henry VII, Catherine Parr, mystery, detective,

The Plot:   The sixth book in the series, Matthew Shardlake lawyer/investigator returns to unravel plots and intrigues of the Tudor royal court. Henry VIII is dying, and is concerned about his legacy, and religious tensions threaten civil harmony. Catholics, Reformers, Anabaptist and Lollards are all Christians, but their differences regarding the holy communion are leading to unrest, charges of heresy and murder. Catherine Parr, the wife of the king, has had a potential inflammatory and heretical memoir stolen, Lamentations of a Sinner, so she calls on her long-term friend Shardlake to retrieve it, before it is made public.

Rating: 3.5/5    

Monday, 9 March 2015

badass women in literature (part 1)

After getting all empowered at WOW I started to think about awesome and inspiring women in literature, and have put together a small, (but by no means definitive) list of heroines;-

WOW 2015

Hope everyone had a fabulous International Women's Day yesterday!

picture source

I sure did. I went to the WOW festival this weekend and had a brilliant time. 3 days of talks, debates and performances celebrating women and discussing the challenges we face, just had my little feminist heart singing with glee. 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day

picture source

Happy world book day! Sadly, I'm far too old to receive world book tokens, but I still remember dressing up when I was at primary school, I went as Red Riding Hood. I've just seen some rather depressing news that a lad in Manchester was sent home from school for his 50 Shades of Gray costume. He's only 11, so I have no idea what his mum was thinking.

If you are small enough to receive tokens I've got a couple of suggestions of where to spend them:-

Monday, 2 March 2015

Where's Wally? National Literacy Trust Fun Run

If you're London based and fancy getting some good karma by raising money for a brilliant charity, please sign up for the National Literacy Trust fun run.

One in six adults in the UK struggle with literacy - the National Literacy Trust aims to help rectify this.

 If you're a follower of this blog, I'm assuming you like to read- now imagine you can't.Without basic literacy skills your're chances of employment are greatly reduced, how can you get a job when you can't fill out an application form? Or imagine if reading a bus time table was a challenge or writing an email? Literacy has an impact on every aspect of lives.

With your help we can help improves the lives of adults and children in the UK. Please sign up for either 5 or 10K, and join the other Wallys doing their bit!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

what I've read this month (February)

The shortest month of the year caught me by surprise and I forgot to post my monthly round up on the last day of February, so here it is:

1. Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress
2. Bernadette Barton, Stripped
3. Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet (re-read)
4. Vikas Swarup, Q&A
5. C. J Sansom, Lamentation 
6. Jennifer McVeigh, The Fever Tree
7. Jacqueline Susann, The Valley of the Dolls
8. Xiaolu Guo, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers  

I still want to review a couple of these books, but I've been so disorganised recently. Still, I did manage to get reviews up of both the best and the worst of this month reads. The Fever Tree was my favourite, for it's cinematic and engaging love story. Stripped was the poorest as it need to be more academical rigorous and less repetitive.

Another highlight of the month was The Valley of the Dolls a cult-classic about the entertainment industry this book is the good type of trash. Published in 1966 is has surprisingly stood the test of time, and could criticism of Hollywood could easily be applicable for today.

Though not the worst book, perhaps the most disappointing was Q&A, as I had high expectations because I love the film adaptation (Slumdog Millionaire). The novel didn't have the same emotional pull on me as the film, and there were parts that were so poorly written they became dull.

Stone Mattress is written by my hands down favourite author, and though I enjoyed aspects of this short story collection, my dislike towards the medium stopped this from being crowned this months winner.

Tipping the Velvet was a re-read. I've mentioned my love for Sarah Waters before, her novels are so vivid, she really manages to capture a sense of time and place in her historic novels. If you've not read any of her books you really should give her a try, Fingersmith is my personal top pick.

I read a fair bit of historical fiction this month, Tipping the Velvet, Lamentation and The Fever Tree - it's one of my favourite genres so it was really lovely to have a bit of a binge on it.