Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review - The Girl From the Savoy

It's 1923, and Dolly Lane is about to start work at the Savoy in London as a maid. Dolly is carrying memories and baggage from the fallout of the Great War, but she's determined  to live out her dream of performing on the stage.

Actress Loretta May has the world at her feet - she's rich, famous, beautiful - and dying.

Dolly and Loretta's paths would normally never cross, but Dolly bumps into Loretta's brother Perry, and it changes all of their lives.

The Girl From the Savoy evokes the era perfectly - the early 1920s - post-war with endless possibilities in the future.

Both Dolly and Loretta come to life off the page, and the supporting characters like Perry and Dolly's friend Clover - are also memorable.

Reading The Girl From the Savoy made me want to put on a nice dress and go for afternoon tea in a fancy hotel - complete with tiny cakes. True escapism at its best.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Review - Breakaway

Lane Courtnall's future looks bright - recruited to an NHL affiliate team, his hockey career looks set. However, after Lane says some stupid things, his team turns their backs on him, and he's feeling a bit isolated.

Jackson Shore is in his early 30s, meaning his hockey career is just about at an end. He's angry about a lot of things, and then upstart Lane challenges him to a fight on the ice.

Lane and Jackson don't get on - at first - but a one night stand soon changes both their lives.

It sounds a bit odd, but this was actually adorable. Cute, and very little angst really, and Lane is the type of character who just says whatever he's thinking with no filter whatsoever. And it's easy for that kind of character to be a complete asshole, but Lane is the opposite.

He lets his thought processes out all the time, and exasperates everyone ever, but he's such a likeable character, that it doesn't matter.

Breakaway is fun, and you don't need to know anything about hockey (I don't) to enjoy the developing love story.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Sunday Post 49; It's Monday, what are you reading? 34

The Sunday Post - a chance for bloggers to chat and catch up - is hosted by Kimba over here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are reading? is hosted by Kathryn right here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... it's been a couple of weeks since I did a Sunday Post.

I do have a bit of sad news. One of our cats, Casper, who was 15 this year, deteriorated. He lost a lot of weight, and then got an abcess on his jaw that got infected. It all felt like it happened very quickly. And, of course, with me not working ... ugh. But I rang the vet and we took him in and he was put to sleep. He was in pain and couldn't eat for the last few days, which you never want to see in your pets. The vet was lovely about it and told us that we could make payment arrangements if we needed to - which I hadn't realised.

This was Casper. He was a very good cat. Much more fond of my husband than me, but still a good cat.

So that was some sadness. It's never easy saying farewell to a pet - especially one who's been with you for so long.

J stayed with him, but I get weird and panicky around death, so I waited out in the waiting room.

Right. What else has been going on around these parts for the past couple of weeks?

I'm sure everyone heard about the big quake, but luckily I live well outside of that particular area, so we weren't affected, though a friend of mine lives in Wellington. She's fine, but naturally rattled, of course.

I actually managed to write some posts last week - three reviews - two books, one movie. I also read Breakaway by Avon Gale, and I'm hoping to finish The Girl From the Savoy this week. So yay, content!

I was frustrated on Friday though. On Tuesday, I had an assessment to see whether I had the skills to proceed with a job interview to be a court reporter. Basically transcribing notes, etc. A job that I KNOW I could do easily. So. Of course, I completely fluffed the assessment. Typing speed, using MS word ... everything. Everything but accuracy. But just being accurate isn't enough.

So I'm still sending out applications and trying to fill my days. I do have the chance of a couple of weeks' work with a local independent community newspaper, which is good timing with Christmas right around the corner. I'm meeting with the editor - someone I used to work with - tomorrow to have a chat. Fingers crossed and all that jazz. It's only a couple of weeks at the moment, but who knows?

As I said, I'm reading The Girl From the Savoy, and I'm not sure what might be up next. Wizards and Glass, perhaps.


What's up with you? What are you reading?

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Review - The Prophecy Con

Loch and co are back in book 2 of Patrick Weekes' The Rogues Republic Series.

This time, the team has to steal an invaluable elven manuscript in order to prevent a war between the Republic and the Empire.

Just why this particular manuscript can stop the war, no one really knows, but Loch has a job to do. She gathers the usual suspects from The Palace Job, and we're off to the races.

If you like your fantasy with a healthy dose of humour, strategy and the kind of heists seen in Ocean's Eleven, then this is the series for you. It dives right in and doesn't let up until the very end.

Loch and co pursue the manuscript, uncover consipracies, and there's even a little romance, if that's your sort of thing.

Something for everyone.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Review - Hold Me

Hold Me by Courtney Milan is the second book in the loosely connected Cyclone series.

This one features Maria Lopez, Tina's room-mate from book one.

Once again, I downloaded it, sat down to read, and basically didn't get up till I'd finished the book.

Maria is studying to be an actuary, and on the side she runs a blog that runs scenarios for different kinds of apocalypses. She has her friends, and her adored brother, and things are good.

Then she meets Jay, a professor at the university and things go a bit ... wrong.

Jay and Maria get off on the wrong foot, as Jay pre-judges Maria for her very put-together appearance, and assumes she's about as deep as a puddle. Maria, for her part, comes out swinging - she's worked hard to get to where she is in her life and refuses to let someone like Jay bring her down.

What neither of them know, is that they've been communicating via a message app for over a year, as Jay commented on Maria's blog - that she runs anonymously.

Ah ... this was greatly satisfying to read. Especially Maria, who takes absolutely no shit from anyone, especially Jay - even when they work out who the other is.

Hold Me is about two adults meeting, hating each other, then not so much hating each other, then actually TALKING about why they hated each other and then dating and then nakedness.

This is SUCH a good series and I'm looking forward to book three very much.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Review - Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ricky Baker is considered a problem. He's got a list of offences that are as impressive as they are sad for a 12-year-old.

He's packed off to a foster family in the middle of nowhere, and that's where the fun begins.

His foster mother Bella (Rima Te Wiata) is loving and patient with Ricky, whereas - in contrast - her husband Hec (Sam Neill) is grumpy and standoffish with Ricky.

However, when Bella dies, Hec and Ricky find themselves having to get along. They're also on the run in the wilds of New Zealand's backcountry thanks to a misunderstanding with a bunch of weekend warriors.

I missed this at the movies somehow, but picked it up on DVD and I'm so glad I did. It's a very New Zealand story, and the landscape is almost a third star of the film along with Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison as Ricky.

Hec and Ricky are hilarious together and the story itself is extremely heartfelt. It's a feel-good movie from start to finish (although warning for animal lovers, there is a pet death in there).

Under the steady hand of Kiwi director Taika Waitit, Wilderpeople is an absolute must-see.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Sunday post 48; It's Monday what are you reading? 33

The Sunday Post is a chance for a natter and catch-up with other bloggers, and is hosted by Kimba, here: http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/ and It's Monday! What are you reading? Is hosted by Kathryn here: http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/

Let's see ... what happened last week? Not a lot, really. I had a job interview last Monday, and I'm in a wait-and-see mode, but I'm not particularly optimistic, just because I don't have a key set of skills needed for that particular job. So I'm still applying for jobs most days, and trying to stay upbeat.

I've also been catching up on Gotham, which is an odd one because it's not really all that good, but somehow it's really watchable? I don't know how they managed to pull that one off. Anyway, I'm working my way through series two at the moment.

I'm doing nano but I've decided not to stress over it, or try and make the word count every single day. If I write 500-1000 words every day, and I can stop myself from editing, I'll be happy, I think. It feels good, anyway, to sit down at my computer in the mornings and do something productive - along with trawling the job sites and my emails for possible positions, I mean.

As for what I'm reading, I'm diving in to book 2 of The Rogues of the Republic series by Patrick Weekes - so I'm reading The Prophecy Con. It's a series of heist novels, essentially, in a fantasy setting. Think Oceans Eleven meets Terry Pratchett. Up next, I think I'll pick up Wizards and Glass. I'm likely not going to make my goal of reading the whole of The Dark Tower series by the end of the year, but I'll make as good of a fist of it as I can.

I'm back into stitching a little bit more, as one of my other modest goals for the year was to finish Circe, a project I have had on the go - on and off - for several years. She's not the only lonely WIP, but the one I have the best chance of finishing - lol.

What about you? How's your week? What are you reading?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Review - Trade Me

I'm not a great reader of romance novels (as a non sci-fi reading friend of mine says, "it's not my genre") and I have very specific criteria before I venture in:

- No bodice-ripping
- No arrogant pricks with arrogant pricks
- No foot-stamping in vexation
- No emotional constipation

Someone recced The Duchess War by Courtney Milan to me, and I went in, somewhat dubious, because historical romance. But BUT The Duchess War was great, and I reviewed it here: http://lifetheuniverseandcats.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/the%20duchess%20war

This is a very rambly way of saying  that I didn't hesitate to jump in to Trade Me because I knew I was in good hands, romance-wise, and I was right.

Tina Chen is a college student, struggling to get by between work, study and her overbearing and energetic mother.

Blake Reynolds is also a college student, but he's also the heir to the billion-dollar Cyclone Technology company. When he makes an offhand comment about poverty in a seminar he and Tina are both in, Tina loses her hard-won cool and tells him he wouldn't last a week in her world.

And so the trade is on ...

Ahhh this was so good. I sat down on Saturday morning with the ebook, and just spent the whole day reading till I was finished it.

Tina and Blake are both great characters and they actually TALK about their issues and the obstacles in the way of them actually getting together.

It's a very satisfying story, with a satisfying and realistic-feeling romance. Good stuff.