Friday, 30 November 2012

Book Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Woohoo! The 30 Day Book Challenge is nearly finished! This is review number eight :) Just a short review today, as work has been flat out and my brain is kind of overflowing with appointments I have to organise and places I have to be and people I have to text/message/email. It's just been that kind of day.

As far as conclusions to series go, I really enjoyed the final book in Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush Hush sequence. I got just a tad bit involved with Patch and Nora's story but funnily enough I completely forgot that there was another book coming out. So, when I saw it on the acquisitions shelf I admit- I did a happy dance. I couldn't wait to get into it and the story didn't disappoint. Filled with thrills, chills and romance I was engrossed from start to finish.
I like Fitzpatrick's style of writing and the story literally flew by.

There was the requisite plot twist which I actually didn't see coming ( I pride myself on being able to predict storylines), epic battles ( well, for me anyway) and some awesome quotes from Vee.

A satisfying conclusion to a great YA series.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Book Review: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances Dowell O'Rourke

Here comes another book review for my 30 Day Book Challenge- only three more to go now!

This was a very light, easy read, which I got through in one sitting.
It follows a teenage girl, who, when she was younger convinced her parents it would be awesome to live on a farm. Now, she wishes she hadn't because she is ridiculed at school for being a country hick. 

This book was much like others of its kind and when compared to something like Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee, it really doesn't stand a chance.

The style of writing didn't make me connect with the story, which is what I really look for in a good novel. I didn't relate to the main character or her family and somehow felt that the whole book felt a bit half- hearted.

Not a terrible book, but certainly not my favourite either. Next up on the review list is Artichokes Heart by Suzanne Supplee- currently one of my favourite authors.

I'd love to hear any feedback about the blog or the books I'm reading- just leave me a comment here on the blog or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter


Friday, 23 November 2012

Book Review: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford

This is the best book I have read so far for my 30 Day Book Challenge. I love everything about it, from the beautiful photographs, mouthwatering recipes, to the whole story behind the book. This time, instead of writing my review ( I'd probably use 'love' far too many times!) I thought this excerpt from the cover describes the book very well.

"Luminous at dawn and dusk, the Mekong is a river road. a vibrant artery that defines a vast and fascinating region. Here, along the world's tenth largest river, which rises in Tibet and joins the sea in Vietnam, traditions mingle and exquisite food prevails. Award-winning authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid followed the river south, as it flows through the mountain gorges on southern China, to Burma and into Laos and Thailand...North Americans have come to love Southeast Asian food for its bright, fresh flavors. But beyond the dishes themselves, one of the most attractive aspects of Southeast Asian food is the life that surrounds it. In Southeast Asia, people eat for joy. The palate is wildly eclectic, proudly unrestrained. In Hot Sour Salty Sweet at last this great culinary region is celebrated with all the passion, colour and life that it deserves"

If you get a chance to read this book, I thoroughly recommend it. 10 out of 10! Below are some photos of recipes from the book :)


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Book Review: The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

Here comes another review for the 30 Day Book Challenge!
I came across this book after I saw it on the trolley of new items for our monthly book chat members. I've been going through a phase of picking out quite melancholy/depressing books e.g.The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted ( Bridget Asher) and Into the Darkest Corner ( Elizabeth Haynes). When I read the back of this book and saw themes of death, family problems and secrets I knew I had to read it.
This book follows two friends- Kate and Elizabeth and is set in post 9/11 America. When Elizabeth passes away from cancer, Kate is left wondering how to cope without her best friend. She finds Elizabeth's journals and begins to read through them. As she does, she realises the Elizabeth she knew was very different to the real Elizabeth as portrayed in her journals.
What I liked about this book, was that it was very real. The way the characters dealt with grief was real. The relationships bewteen husband and wife and parents and children were real. Elizabeth's journals seemed real. Bernier writes with insight- something I've grown to appreciate in the books I've been reading lately. If you're after a read with some substance, I'd recommend this.
I'd love to hear what you think of the blog and of the books I've been reading/reviewing. Just leave me a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter
P.S. I think this might be the longest post title ever!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Book Review: Three Summers by Judith Clarke

This is book review number 3 of my 30 Day Book Challenge
Three Summers follows Ruth, who survived a  fatal car crash when she was a baby and now lives with her grandmother. She meets a boy named Tam and becomes somewhat obsessed by him. I'm sorry to say I didn't really enjoy this book. It might have the been the style it was written in, or the fact that I didn't really connect with any of the characters, but I just couldn't 'get into' the book. I also didn't like the fact that I couldn't figure out the date the book was set in. This made it hard for me to place what kind of society the characters lived in which was very off putting. The book wasn't awful but I've certainly read better. 
I'd love to hear what you're currently reading and if you have any recommendations for me. Just leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter

Julia :)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Book Review: The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones

Here comes another 30 Day Book Challenge review! This is another great book written by one of my favourite authors, Nicole Mones. The Last Chinese Chef follows a widowed American food writer, Maggie, who travels to Beijing to find out more about her late husbands secrets. Her trip also doubles as work, as she is asked by her editor to profile Sam, a half Chinese American who is the last in a line of gifted chefs going back to the imperial palace. I read this in a weekend and really enjoyed it. I love reading about food and Mones has satisfied my literary cravings. As she describes the food, I feel I'm eating it alongside the character.
" According to the classical pattern he started with a few lacy-crisp deep-fried dishes: pepper-salt eel fillets like translucent little tiles...and an aromatic stir-fry of yellow chives studded with tiny. delicate fried oysters. Back in the kitchen, he stir-fried tender mustard greens with wide, flat tofu-skin noodles and plump, fresh, braised young soybeans. These glistened on the platter in a light crystal sauce. After that there were lamb skewers, delectably grilled and crusted with sesame".
The thing I liked most about this book, was how Mones described traditional methods of Chinese cooking. Publishers Weekly described the book as 'Sumptuous' and this is how I would describe it too.
A satisfying read but have some snacks ready to alleviate the cravings that are sure to happen!
I'd love to hear what you think of the blog or any of the books I've been reading for this challenge. Just leave me a comment here on the blog or send me a tweet @JuliadeRuiter

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Book Review: Making your House a Home by Clare Nolan

Hi everyone,
Here comes review number two of the 30 Day Book Challenge!
I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to pretty books, so when I saw this new book in our library I couldn't resist :)

Basically, the book is all about how to decorate your home on the cheap, seasonal living and appreciating the small things in life. It is beautifully photographed and very sensible in the tips and ideas mentioned. My favourite part of the book was the fact that it had sections devoted to the seasons. The Americans have such distinct seasons and seem to decorate their homes accordingly- oranges and reds for autumn and cozy throws and candles in winter for example. I'd love to apply this way of living to me in New Zealand- the book gave me some good inspiration for this.  A great weekend read- I've flicked through it multiple times already. Technically, this wasn't really reading but it was a nice break from some of the other deep and meaningful books I've been reading for this challenge :)
Does anyone have any other great books about home decorating etc that they would recommend? I'd love to hear from you! Just leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter

Monday, 12 November 2012

Book Review: Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Right, book review number one of the 30 Day Book Challenge! I took the wrong book with me away this weekend so the Nichole Bernier book should be my next review :)
I really enjoyed this book. As I've mentioned previously, I'm really loving reading books about Chinese/Americans and their struggle to find their cultural identity.
Dreams of Joy follows mother and daughter Pearl and Joy.
At the beginning of the book, Joy finds out that her father committed suicide because of her and that her mother really is her aunt and her aunt is her birth mother. Shocked and betrayed by the secrets her family kept from her, she decides to leave Los Angeles and go back to China. The story is set in communist China and provides a fascinating yet shocking account of what the citizens of China at that time had to go through. Lisa See has written in haunting yet realistic prose, the memories and scenes she captured in the book will stay with me for a long time. I can't wait to read another of her books. 5 out of 5 stars!

I'd love to hear if anyone has read this and what you thought- just leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Sneak Peek

For my own organisation I thought I'd post the list of the books I'm planning on reading for my 30 Day Book Challenge:

1: The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier ( fiction)
2: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford ( non fiction)
3: Artichokes Heart by Suzanne Supplee ( young adult)
4: Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances Dowell O'Rourke ( young adult)
5: Dreams of Joy by Lisa See ( fiction)
6: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis ( non fiction)
7: Three Summers by Judith Clarke ( young adult)
8: Making a House your Home by Clare Nolan (non fiction)
9: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson ( fiction)
10: The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones ( fiction)

Let me know if you think there are any others I should read! :) I'm very excited about this challenge!!


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I love reading!

Now that I've finished my study, I have more time for reading ( yay!). So, I've decided to  take on a 30 day book challenge. In the month of November and a little into December, I will read and review 10 books (yes, 10!) I'm going to aim to read a variety of fiction and non fiction. To start with I am currently reading: The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier. I'm enjoying it so far- review will come in a couple of days :) 

If you have any recommendations of newish books I should read, I'd love to hear them. Just leave me a comment here on the blog or tweet me @JuliadeRuiter

Until Further Notice I Am Alive by Tom Lubbock

Until Further Notice I Am Alive is written by Tom Lubbock, a man who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and given only months to live. 

The tumour affected the parts of his brain that control speech and vocabulary. It was saddening yet fascinating to read how his speaking and reading skills decreased but he was still able to write about it.

 This book made me think a lot about the fragility of human life. In a split second we can be gone from this world- this is why this book was very sobering. It is not a long book, it only took me an hour to get through but it has really stuck with me. It is a very poignant read and I highly recommend it.