The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

So Give Me Coffee And TV

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The 2012-2013 television season is over but before we run to our box sets and marathons of Extreme Couponing, let us take a look back on this year's race for best in show.


Mindy started off great, got a little shaky but dominated down the home straight. Nashville, The Good Wife, Suits and Hart of Dixie were all consistently excellent. Game of Thrones was running a completely different race but a great one nonetheless (that wedding!). New Girl and Real Husbands of Hollywood were up and down but provided much needed comic relief.

Losers / Did Not Finish (aka Most In Need Of A Dr Bailey Kick Up The Proverbial)

Get your act together you guys. You used to be on my favourite's list. Man up and come back fighting next season. 

I Respect Your 'Realness' - Best Reality TV

Patti is brilliant, Kourtney and her family are so sweet, Spenny and Louise and friends continue to entertain as they show us how the other half live, NeNe and Phaedra are two of my favourite reality TV stars, and Dani is one of the most sympathetic reality stars on television right now.

Sure To Be Missed 

Goodbye Ivy, unfortunately they did not want to let you be our star. It was nice to see a slice of Broadway on our small screens every week - and those Shaiman & Wittman songs were stunning. I play Let Me Be Your Star - rather haltingly but with mucho gusto - on the piano every weekend. Most of all I will miss Rachel Shukert's recaps (if you are a Smash fan and have not read them, do so right now although be warned you will never look at the show the same again). I understand Happy Endings is/was an acquired taste but I will miss this gangs banter soooo much. The same goes for Ben and Kate, which was a sweet show with potential. I can't even talk about it. It was inevitable. It was necessary know I love you *sniff* XOXO.

Requests For Summer Viewing Reruns

I want to see some of the good drama shows of old this summer. Plus, I could do with seeing Greek again too.

I also need to catch up with Scandal, Homeland season two (it clashed with Downton Abbey on Sunday nights over here), House of Cards, and Justified.

Finally, I really need to watch Southland. I've wanted to watch it for ages and now that it has been cancelled, hopefully More4 will show it all over again or there will be some nicely priced packages on Amazon. 

What have you enjoyed/loathed watching this season? 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Publisher: Penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Ok, I'm not even going to attempt to write a synopsis for this book as everything is far too complicated to explain without spoilers. To be honest, I didn't even read the Goodreads/Amazon blurb before I bought it because I vaguely remember hearing it was about Liz and Dick and that was enough for me. Then Lainey waxed lyrical about it and I thought, ok, time to get it. So, I'll give you some key words to help you decide if it will be your sort of thing: 

Richard Burton
Hollywood players
The Italian Riviera 
Edinburgh Festival
The Donner Party

This was a great read. Just thinking about it has me giggling. It was fast paced (actually, make that lightning speed), hilarious but laced with universal truths. I can't really say too much because the plot reveals are delicious and plentiful but I can understand why the film rights were snapped up.

The characters were crazy and full of life. A good novel featuring multiple points of view will always make you want to go back to the previous character's story when the chapter changes. I am pleased to report, this happened throughout Beautiful Ruins. The settings were colourful and fun and will make for a beautiful film. The ending is almost perfect too, which is rare. Endings are difficult because a story never ends but Mr Walter handled this with flair and finesse. 

Overall, it is an excellent commentary on our obsession with obsession, fame, and celebrity couples featuring the couple that arguably started it all - our beloved Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I think I need to read The Financial Lives of the Poets next.  

Top Ten Tuesday - Best of 2013 So Far

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2013

1. The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice - Set during the end of the rockin' 50's and the beginning of the swinging 60's, this novel was bound to be good. Coming of age tales are ten a penny but very few are so rich and satisfying without being over the top; poignant without being contrived. I absolutely adored this novel. 

2. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - I love my Aussie YA and this has skyrocketed into my all time favourites list. 

3. Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell - Like a summer storm - both electric and claustrophobic. Great characters, excellent story. Perfect for summer if you haven't read it yet.

4. Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols - So playful and funny. Jennifer Echols did a good job of portraying that gang you always see on holiday who seem to be having a lot more fun than you. Or maybe you're in that gang and don't know what I'm talking about...either way, this is a must read and I can't believe it took me so long to get it. 

5. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg- Inspring and invigorating. I think everyone can take something away from this book. 

6. Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne - I read a lot of American YA - through choice- so it was nice to read something about my own home. Full of twists and turns this was a gritty read. 

7. Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar- Some characters get under your skin and into your heart. This happened with Carly in Raw Blue. 

8. Pao by Kerry Young - I was personally invested in this novel because of my own heritage. It's hard enough to find people who resemble me in novels as it is but to find a book about Chinese Jamaicans? Brilliant! 

9. Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally - Soooo Miranda Kenneally is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Plus, it made me think of that amazing show Bug Juice. Remember that? Real kids, making friends, having fun, uh-huh bug juice. That there sums up this book. 

10. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter- Hilarious! Liz and Dick! The Italian Riviera! Too many exclamation marks! 

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Monday, June 24, 2013

Publisher: e-penguin
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Carly lives to surf - or perhaps she surfs to live. Her whole life is scheduled around catching the next big wave. Surfing is her life jacket - the only thing that keeps her from becoming overwhelmed by that other deep blue. As she spends her mornings at the beach, she crosses paths with all sorts of characters, all of whom are enjoying the break from their regular lives and the problems they face. It is through a handful of these colourful folk that Carly's world turns to technicolour again and she begins to let go and breathe. 

Jumping galahs, this was a corker! I have yet to meet an Aussie book that I don't end up falling in love with (let's just forget I gave up on The Slap and handed it to Oxfam as pristine as the day I bought it). Anyway, this was a wonderful tale of release, restoration and new beginnings by Kirsty Eagar. 

Carly was so real - so damaged and closed off. When I finally got to the part describing what caused her to retreat into herself (although it is fairly obvious from the very beginning), I was overwhelmed with emotion because by then I was heavily invested in her wellbeing. It's difficult to portray an introverted character who the reader will continually root for but Kirsty Eagar managed it with Carly. I could picture her easily - hear her and see her expressions, which isn't too unusual for me as I am constantly casting the characters I read about (which is not always helpful). However, what was different with Carly is that the person I saw and heard was not an actress or model or even similar to anybody I know personally. Then there was Ryan. The whole way through the book I kept thanking God that there are people out there like Ryan. People who won't give up on someone who clearly needs a little more time and attention than most. Yes, he is a fictional character but it is obvious he was written from a place of love. 

I thought the dialogue was realistic and combined with all the Aussie slang, the descriptions of the beach, and the coastal watch reports created a vibrant and colourful atmosphere. They always say write what you know and this was evident in Raw Blue. I loved that the older surfers said 'faaarrk' because that's how it's said where I live too! Oh, and I liked the 'eeeeurgh' call when someone had a good ride (is that what you call it in surfing terms?!) but I'd like to hear someone say it - is it like 'yeeeeah' or 'erghhh'?! Help me out Australian friends! 

Overall, this story is about being able to start again - that everybody has the right to seek out a better life for themselves in spite of their past. It's also about not knowing what the future holds. Not everyone has a ten year plan. For some people, just getting through each day is enough. In fact, I think we all have moments in our life - years even - where we have to employ this mindset for whatever reason. I think if more New Adult books addressed these sorts of topics rather than focusing on the twenty year old virgin (because that's so scandalous, right? I've seen far too many NA books with this plot) it could become an interesting category. Then again, I suppose there are plenty of books shelved under general fiction that have these kinds of storylines, so who knows what will happen to the New Adult category. Anyway, what I do know is that Kirsty Eagar is a terrific writer and I'm going to get another one of her books soon. 

NB: After reading this book, I wanted to know more about surfing. So, I watched Billabong Odyssey on Netflix and wooooahh, awesome documentary! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is: Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR List

1. All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue - I like to read these kinds of 'friends heading off to their childhood beach towns to recoup' stories.

2. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I've been meaning to read this for ages but the Kindle price has been far too high for my liking. However, I see the paperback is due out on 7 July so I'll pick that up at Foyles. 

3. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer - The obligatory critically acclaimed novel. Plus Lainey recommended it and she's yet to steer me in the wrong direction. 

4. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - Class divides and all that jazz but I'm hoping it's got something a little extra.

5. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain- I'm pretty sure this will be one of the best reads of the year. 

6. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller- Sounds like a fun, easy read. 

7. The Engagements by J Courtney Sullivan- I loved Commencement but wasn't that keen on Maine, so I've got my fingers crossed for this one. 

8. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller - I really liked Something Like Normal and I have a soft spot for Florida, so this sounds right up my street.

9. The Smart One by Jennifer Close - Loved Girls in White Dresses and I always wished I was called Louise so I could have the nickname Weezy, so I will most certainly be reading this book over the summer. 

10. Golden by Jessi Kirby- As you may or may not know, In Honor was one of my favourites from last year so obviously I'm excited to read something else by Jessi Kirby. Also, the cover just screams summer read.

So, there you go - a fraction of my summer booklist. However, I've just realised I don't have a proper wedding book on there. A wedding story is a must in the summer! Any recommendations? 

Song of the Summer

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Do you follow Vulture's quest for Song of the Summer? Well, I think I've made my decision already so without further ado I present to you my Song of the Summer, domestic and international. 

Domestic: You & Me by Disclosure feat. Eliza Doolittle 

This song is just sooooo London to me. It sounds like London. It tastes like London. My London anyway - the East London/Essex borders. Disclosure remind me a little of The Streets in that they have harnessed this quintessential, nostalgic British sound and released it during a time when everything else sounds so samey. That wasn't a very good explanation but I can't quite describe it properly - music fans feel free to help me out. Oh, and way to go Eliza Doolittle!

International: Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell & T.I

Such fun! Hey hey hey. Pharrell is a genius. 

What's your song of the summer? 

Mini Reviews - June

Monday, June 10, 2013

I haven't really read anything recently that has inspired a gushing, full review. So, I thought I'd do another set of mini's. 

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

What's the deal? Ellie and Graham have been setting their keyboards alight, sending each other witty emails after a misdirected message brought them together. However, Ellie doesn't know that Graham is THE Graham Larkin- young Hollywood royalty. So, when Graham manages to relocate his film to Maine to be near Ellie and introduces himself, she has to come to terms with the possibility of love, and being in love, with a famous person.

Any good? It was nice. Definitely a summer read that could be finished in an afternoon by the pool. The characters felt a little flat but the overall themes of belonging and making connections were enough to compensate. The email exchanges were sweet and funny. I only wish we'd gotten to know Quinn and the other supporting characters a little better. I preferred The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight though.

Should I get it? I  saw the film titles You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seatlle peppering the Goodreads page for this book. I've not seen the former and can scarcely remember the latter but I suppose if you like those kinds of films, this would be right up your street. 

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

What's the deal? Amina and George met online whilst Amira was still in Bangladesh and George was in Rochester, NY. Within no time, Amina is on a plane to Rochester, ready to marry her American dream. The ups and downs of Amina and George's first few years of married life are chronicled in this novel. 

Any good? This was interesting and a nice change of pace from my usual reads. Amina's character was richly drawn, full of light and shade, so that by the end of the book I felt like I knew her and really cared for her parents, and George too. I'm not married yet but I can imagine the first year especially would be difficult for anyone even without culture clash thrown into the mix. I thought the reality of their situation was handled extremely well - it wasn't painted as exotic (gosh, I hate that word) or a rescue mission but rather two very different people trying to make it work.

There's so much to say about this rich, complex novel that it probably deserves a proper review to really get into the themes. I'm afraid to say I'd never heard of Nell Freudenberger before this but I will look into her other work as this novel has shown her to be a talented storyteller and writer - because you can be one and not the other, right? 

Should I get it? If you like to read about inter-racial/inter-faith relationships or enjoy learning about South Asian culture. 

Crash by Nicole Williams
What's the deal? Lucy is determined to get through her senior year without drama and get the hell out of Dodge. Then she meets Jude Ryder - resident bad boy extrodinaire. The two strike up an ill advised relationship and naturally, drama ensues. 

Any good? Oh boy. The cover was misleading because I thought it would be a dance book like Bunheads or even like When the Stars Go Blue which has a stormy relationship in it but dancing is the heart. I don't know what to say about this book because it is not my cup of tea (so far away in fact it might as well be Earl Grey) but I can imagine it would be a five star read for some people. I just didn't get on with the characters or the plot, which was a little too far fetched for me at certain points. I don't like to give up on books though (the only one I stopped reading this year was A Beautiful Lie because, not my kind of story) so I powered through is what it is. I'll say no more.

Should I get it? I listened to the podcast about the New Adult category on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves and that helped put this book into perspective. I think this falls into the Beautiful Disaster camp (although I haven't read it), so if you like that book and general bad boy falls for sassy girl stories, knock yourself out. 

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

What's the deal? Cora Carlisle is experiencing empty nest syndrome, so when she finds out that the Brooks family are looking for a chaperone to accompany their Louise to a summer session at a New York dance school, she offers her services and soon finds herself living in an apartment on the Upper West Side. However, there's more to Cora than meets the eye and she uses her time in New York to figure out the missing pieces from her past, present and future. 

Any good? This was a good, solid read. The story kept up the momentum and revealed new surprises at the right times. The setting of New York in the 1920's was interesting and fun, what with all the flappers and speakeasies. It probably helped that when I started it, all the Gatsby promotional stuff was everywhere. Finally, I enjoyed learning about Louise Brooks. I'd heard her name a few times over the years, mainly in reference to her haircut, but didn't know much about her life. Looking at Laura Moriarty's reference list she provides at the end of the book, I'm guessing most of the Louise element of the story is accuarte. Fascinating stuff. 

Should I get it? If you like Louise Brooks, the roaring twenties and I'm going to say The Good Wife because I heard and saw Alicia Florick in Cora's character for some reason. 

Top Ten Tuesday - Books About Travelling

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is books featuring travel. 

First of all we have to set the mood with the song I always associate with travelling (I don't know why):

1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - A road trip, original and quirky characters, and a barrel or laugh out loud moments - this is my absolute FAVOURITE John Green book. If you haven't read it, read it. If you've read it and loved it, read it again (with me because I need to re-read this as soon as possible). 

2. In Honor by Jessi Kirby- Another road trip novel that I absolutely loved. A sweet and earnest story about love and loss. A must for Friday Night Lights fans. 

3. Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt - Dual narration, a road trip, pop cultural references that are probably quite out of date now but make me smile, and witty banter between the characters make this is one of my favourite YA novels. Although nowadays it might even be classed as 'New Adult' considering Jordan and Courtney are about to start college. Either way, it's a quick but fun read.

4. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - Yes, another road trip novel but an expertly handled one at that. The fact that Amy and Roger are so vividly drawn and the painstakingly detailed account elevates this from just your run of the mill road trip novel. Oh and of course the playlists. I'm sure this will turn up on many lists. 

5. Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately - This novel deals with travel in a different way to the previous four. Elsa is a nurse who feels compelled to do something after 9/11 and ends up working in Afghanistan. This book is full of heart, courage and humanity.

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern- A rich, magical story about two magicians competing against each other as they travel the globe with this circus. A slow burner but definitely worth the wait. 

7. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour- Back to the road trippers. This one has music in it and a cast of extremely cool characters (except for Bev). 

8. In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde - This book is about a group of strangers who have booked onto a rafting trip down through the Grand Canyon. I picked it up because I thought it might be like The River Wild. It's not but don't let that stop you from reading it. 

9. You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith - Road trip, family secrets, and the boy next door. Standard tropes handled in a sensitive manner. 

10. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares- Of course we have to finish with this! I only read the first Sisterhood book last year but I really wish I'd found it when I was younger. Such fun with a positive message at its heart.